Postpartum & Essential Oils

Postpartum Depression and Anxiety... this is something no one wants to talk about. It's messy and hard and comes at a time in your life when you are supposed to be your happiest. You have a new, perfect baby! You are so in love! Everything should be great, right? Well, not always. For 1 in 7 moms this is a time where they develop a postpartum mood disorder. This can be depression or anxiety or both. 

We want to share a few of our favorite postpartum oils with you! Essential oils are NOT a substitute for medical/psychiatric care and we want to encourage you to reach out to medical professionals if you think you might have a mood disorder. (Not sure? You can try the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale to evaluate yourself or go over the results with your care provider.) We also covered several of the symptoms of postpartum mood disorders on Facebook last week.) There is NOTHING wrong with getting help so you can get back to your normal self and enjoy life with your baby.

Let's talk OILS.

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Lady Sclareol essential oil is great for encouraging your hormones to balance out. After you have a baby your hormones are out of control! They were just at a crazy high during pregnancy and then plummet by day three postpartum causing Baby Blues which in some cases, escalates into a postpartum mood disorder. Lady Sclareol not only smells aaaamazing, it can also help everything balance out and get you back to normal.

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Joy essential oil is for just that JOY! Joy is a blend of oils with a floral and citrus scent that mix together for an uplifting experience. It's great to wear or diffuse to help push off those sad postpartum emotions.

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Frankincense essential oil is an oil that is great for emotional balance. It has an earthy aroma that can help keep your emotions even and ward of those anxious thoughts. 


What are your favorite things to help with postpartum? Share them with us!


Welcome Baby Daniel - VBAC!

Daniel's birth story actually begins with his big brother Anthony's birth story:

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My first pregnancy resulted in a c-section from a failed induction at 41 weeks, 3days in May 2012 (in Virginia). When I was pregnant with Anthony, I attended all of the birth classes provided by the hospital and I thought I knew everything there was to pregnancy and birth (later I would learn that wasn't the case).   I had a very easy, low risk pregnancy however at 41weeks I was induced because I was "overdue." Since  I didn't know any better I agreed to the induction -  no questions asked.  I received a foley bulb, pitocin and ultimately epidural.  About 12 hours after the induction started I was told it was time to push. I pushed with all of my might for about 2 1/2 hours.  Then my OB came in and was saying that I needed to have a c-section.  There was no emergency, but she guaranteed me that my baby wasn't coming out vaginally.  I didn't think to ask any questions, it seemed like I had no other options so I agreed to the c-section as tears ran down my face. Thankfully, both me and my beautiful baby boy did well and I had an easy recovery.  I had heard about women having VBACs (vaginal birth after cesarean) but knew nothing about it.  So from then on I had it in the back of my mind that I would "try" for a VBAC if I ever became pregnant again

Fast-forward to one year later -  I unfortunately had to have emergency abdominal surgery which resulted in severe complications.  During my recovery I knew that I could not undergo another abdominal surgery and I knew that when I became pregnant again a VBAC was my only option. I felt the risks associated with a cesarean were greater for me than the risks associated with a VBAC. I also began feeling that I missed out on the birth that I was supposed to have.  Was it my body that failed me? Was it the induction and interventions that failed me?  I had an easy & normal pregnancy, wasn't I supposed to have a natural birth?

In the spring of 2015 I was so excited to  find out I was pregnant again and I would be due December 21, 2015. I was now living in Baton Rouge and on a mission to find out everything about VBACs.  That is when I met a friend who introduced me to ICAN (International Cesarean Awareness Network) and a local natural birth group.  From there I was able to select a very supportive VBAC doctor and hire a doula.  I interviewed many doulas that were great, but when I meet Katy and Corrine from Louisiana Birth, I knew they were the doulas for me. Throughout my pregnancy I did everything I could think of to help prepare for my second birth.  I attended ICAN and Exceptional Birth Group meetings, read books, watched videos, took classes, went to the chiropractor, took yoga, saw a physical therapist...I mean if you told me it would help me have a natural VBAC I was doing it!!  Even with everything I was doing and seeing the most genuinely kind, evidence based and supportive OB , something inside of me was not happy with the hospital that I was supposed to deliver at. So after much researching, hard conversations, days of worrying and careful consideration, at 30weeks I decided to switch to the midwife practice at Ochsner.  They were totally supportive of natural and VBAC birth's as well as pregnancy's that lasted 42weeks - which I was prepared to go that long to give me the best chance of going into labor on my own.

As I entered 41 weeks of being pregnant I finally began to have some sporadic light contractions on the day of my appointment. I was checked for the first time and I was 2cm dilated. My midwife then proceeded to tell me that based on her exam, my pelvic arch was narrow which would probably make a hard labor and delivery because the baby might have a posterior presentation. This was very unsettling news, as I couldn't believe I was being told this so close to being due and without an xray proving it. Although I wasn't happy with the news, I knew that if I went into labor on my own I would be fine and I was prepared to have a hard labor. I was ready for this! My midwife was still supportive of me trying for a VBAC  however; I now had to meet with an OB to discuss my options.   I have to admit that the thought of having to meet with the OB made me nervous and anxious about the future of my VBAC, but I felt confident she would honor my 2nd due date (I had two) which would allow me to be pregnant a little longer in hopes to go into labor naturally. 

Unfortunately, my appointment didn't go as I hoped and the recommendation from the OB was a repeat cesarean if I didn't go into labor by  the 42 week mark.  I understood her stance on why she didn't want me to be induced, but I couldn't understand why we couldn't base my due date on the second date. I know there are risks involved when going past 42weeks, but a due date is only an estimate and I had a very low risk pregnancy!! I have to admit, I was totally devastated and felt that my chances for a VBAC were slipping away. I was even starting to second guess my  decision to switch providers and was desperate to get a second opinion. But now it was the New Year holiday weekend and all doctors were off.  My husband had been supportive my whole pregnancy, but when he heard about the risks associated with going past 42 weeks, all he wanted me to do was schedule a c-section at the 42 week mark. Although I had been okay with the possibility of having another c-section if my trial of labor failed, I wasn't prepared for a scheduled repeat c-section due to going past my due date. All I wanted was more time to give me a chance to go into labor.  At this point I only had three days to go into labor myself.  And believe me, I was trying EVERYTHING you could think of to get labor going but nothing seemed to work.  I even got two membrane sweeps one on January 1 and the other on the 2nd and although I had progressed to 4cm, still no signs of contractions.

By the afternoon on Sunday January 3rd I  was certain I wouldn't go into labor and my emotions were running high.  Monday was 42 weeks and I knew they would be calling to schedule my c-section. After talking to some wonderful supportive ladies from my birth group and my doulas who gave me words of encouragement, I then read my birth affirmations one more time and I had one more (good)ugly cry.  Per the advice of my doula, I decided to forget about the situation and go out with my husband that evening.

When we got home at about  6:00pm or so I began having small cramp-like contractions.  They continued for an hour, and then another hour and then I realized I was having steady contractions.  I went to bed that night and woke up around 3:00am to stronger contractions about 10-15min apart but they were completely manageable as I was able to doze off & on until about 5:00am.  Then at 6:30am I called my doula to let her know I was having steady contractions and would keep her updated.  She suggested I rest some more. I also texted my midwife to let her know. I tried to rest for another hour or so, but I couldn't because I felt like I had a lot to do since this could be it and I had an appointment at 11:00am with my midwife at the Hospital for my 42week check up.  As the morning went on my contractions seemed to get further apart and more sporadic, so I didn't know what was going on. Before I left for my appointment, I received a call from the hospital to schedule my c-section for the next day.  I told them I didn't think I needed it! But ultimately one was scheduled for the next day, just in case.

I got to the hospital at about 11:30am with my bag , pump and birthing ball "just in case" I  was going to be admitted.  When my midwife checked me I was 5cm, 60 or 80% effaced (I forget which) and Station -1, which was great!  She stripped my membranes and monitored the baby and contractions.  Contractions began to get back to 10min apart, but were not strong at all, my pain level was like a 3.  My midwife said that she wasn't going to admit me since the contractions were still far apart and I was only in early labor .  She came back about 5min later and  was excited to announce that she had talked to the OB( who I had met the week before) and she would be willing to admit me and give me pitocin(since I came  in active labor) if I wanted to get my contractions going.    At first I was excited about this news because the week prior the OB was unwilling to induce me at all and now she was offering a way to get labor going.   This sounded great - but then I had time to think about it and then became uncertain about receiving pitocin.  Initially, I was against all interventions but since I was running out of time to have the baby my thought processes was changing. So, I asked the midwife 100 questions and discussed 100 different situations with my husband & my doula and finally I decided NOT to get pitocin. I wanted the natural birth I had been planning for.  So at about 2:00pm I was discharged to go home.   On the car ride home the contractions seemed to be getting closer and slightly stronger.  I joked that maybe  we should go back to the hospital, but we were so hungry and I really I wasn't sure how strong the contractions were. Once I got home and began to eat lunch the contractions were getting a lot closer  and stronger - Strong  enough where I had to stop eating, get up, lean over the back of my chair and sway.  I hardly got to eat my lunch and decided I needed to go call my doula and have her come to the house.  I also felt like I was going to get sick, but didn't.  As soon as I called her I had a contraction which I couldn't talk through and she helped me relax over the phone.  I hung up with her and had another intense contraction, I looked at the clock and thought, "we have to go to the hospital now because if we leave any later we will get stuck in traffic."  So I told my husband that I just needed to go to the hospital and have the doula meet us there.  We got in the car and left at about 3:35pm.  So normally  it takes 20min to get to the hospital from our house without any traffic, but of course we got behind the slowest cars, hit all the lights and had a little bit of traffic.  I'm not sure how long it took, but it felt like forever AND my contractions were very strong in the car.  I had to moan to control them and told my husband to say relaxing words and phrases to me so I could concentrate on relaxing.  I thought to myself, "this would be too funny if I was transitioning in the car." 

Katy, my doula was waiting for us as we pulled up to the hospital. When I saw her and opened the door to get out I just lost it. I started crying, I was in a lot of pain and I had a lot of pressure in my bottom.  My doula got the wheelchair and all I could say was" I have to poop really bad!"  In my mind I thought if I went to the bathroom then I would feel enough relief to be able to have the baby.  I got to the room, I tried to go to the bathroom to empty my bladder and  the nurse said "don't have the baby on the toilet" and I reassured her I wasn't.  I was in so much pain and had so much pressure in my bottom I didn't know what to do.  I just kind of left my mind.  The midwife checked me and I was complete and ready to push.  I had no idea what I was doing, things were happening so fast and the nurse was trying to get the monitor on me and an IV started.


As I said I had to leave my mind to deal with the intensity of what was going on and I was trying to fight the contractions and the urge to push instead of giving into it.  I think I was doing this because it got a little scary as baby's heart rate was dropping, to the point they called the OB to come in to be there just in case and they had an OR waiting for me.  The midwife asked if she could break my water so they could put a monitor  on baby's head so they could get a more accurate read, I said yes.  I pushed in different positions, but baby didn't like that as his heart rate would drop even more. I was told to lay on my back.  Baby liked that position the best, but in my mind I thought it was the WORST position to push in for my narrow pelvis...what's the point! I didn't think I was able to do it and I was thinking I just wanted them to take me back for a c-section because how could a person with a narrow pelvis push on their back and have success!?!  But everyone was telling me to push and breath and encouraging me so I tried as hard as I could to focus.  I screamed sooooo loud during each push because I didn't know what else to do.  I didn't think anything was happening, but When I heard my husband say "there's hair and the head" I was shocked and I knew I needed to keep going , baby was actually coming out!!!  The midwife said "this is the ring of fire" but honestly it didn't hurt at felt good,  relief from all of the pressure!  At 4:41pm (just under 20min of pushing) my baby boy was born. He came out perfectly and I was able to have immediate skin to skin, something I didn't experience  with my first.  Both my husband and I were in complete shock, we literally couldn't believe that my VBAC had happened!! We were so happy, proud and in love with our baby boy.  Daniel waited until he last minute to come, but when he did it was FAST!

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As I reflect back on my whole experience there was a lot of fear and anxiety of the unknown,  but also determination and empowerment to learn as much as I could about natural birth, VBACs and cesareans.  I may have driven myself, husband and a few friends crazy during the processes because it was very emotional and psychological for me, but in the end it was all worth it. The biggest thing I took away is to trust your mama instincts!  No matter how much uncertainty there was,  in the moments when I trusted my gut, those were the times I made the bests decisions.  I still can't believe it happened!

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Kayla's Birth Story: Welcome Baby Sawyer!

S A W Y E R  R Y N E

Born January 26, 2017 at home
9 pounds, 6 ounces / 22 1/2 inches

Background: If you're not familiar with Judah's marathon home birth transfer birth story, you can read about that here- Judah's Birth Story 

After that birth experience, and then our next pregnancy ending in miscarriage, we certainly had a choice for his pregnancy. Throughout this whole pregnancy, God really taught me to choose JOY and speak life over my pregnancy and birth. ["For God didn't give us a spirit of fear, but of power and love,"] was a verse I claimed every day, especially in the first trimester. And from the beginning of this pregnancy, I brought my desires for this birth to the Lord, and believed they would be so. ["Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill His promises to her." Luke 1:45] Specifically, my dream birth requests were that my baby would be born during the day, in the sunlight; that my labor would be under 12 hours; that I wouldn't have back labor; and that there wouldn't be any meconium present.

Throughout my pregnancy God reassured me over and over. In the last month, one day my belly was itchier than normal. I put all the oils and all the butters on it, and it got increasingly worse by nighttime. I started to panic, seriously afraid it was PUPPPs again. I sat in the bathtub sobbing while Karl prayed over my belly, and within minutes the itching completely stopped. I was also nervous near the end about baby's position. I didn't want another posterior baby/labor, and Sawyer's position wasn't ideal. But the Lord assured me that the baby would be in the perfect position he/she needed to be in. I trusted and believed that it would be so! ["You split the sea so I could walk right through it; you drowned my fears in perfect love."]

Birth Story: On Wed 1/25, I had little contractions during the afternoon. They picked up a little by dinner, and kept up all night even with rest and a bath. I thought, "Its early labor, yay!" I went to bed that night at my normal 9pm, but couldn't fall asleep. I tried to rest as much as possible but just couldn't get comfortable. At 2am I got up to eat a snack, and the contractions were still steady. They weren't crazy hard, but had gotten longer and stronger since dinner. I *almost* called our doula, but wanted to get a little more rest first. So I prayed- ok God, if this is labor, kick it into gear. If it's not, please let it stop so I can get some rest. Then I closed my eyes ... and woke up the next morning.

On Thursday, 1/26, when I woke up I was so peeved. I had been up all night for nothing?! No baby still. All those contractions for nothing. And mostly I felt dumb- a birth worker who didn't know her labor was prodromal. Embarrassing. 
So I complained a little, cried a little, and then started my day like any other day. Karl took Judah to school, I got dressed and headed to Stone Creek. I did my usual routine: forward leaning inversion, walk, stair climb, and stretches. I even facetimed Sarah and Hannah from the treadmill and told them all about the night before and how annoyed I was. After I was done with my routine, I took a shower and got dressed. I had been losing chunks of mucus plug and bloody show for a couple days, so I put a pad on (thank goodness). I was sitting on the chair/stools doing my hair, and then stood up to put on mascara. As soon as I stood up I felt a small leak. (11am) I knew it was my water, but waddled to the bathroom just to check. Sooo I grabbed my stuff and met Karl in the cafe. He was heading to pick up Judah from school, and I was heading to Ericas to get adjusted. (I already had an appt for noon but told them I was coming in a little earlier ham expected!) I waddled in, got adjusted, waddled out, leaking a little more here and there. Meanwhile I was texting my friends HaileyJennyNicole, and Sarah asking them to pray that contractions would start soon. I wasn't expecting to start labor with ruptured membranes and didn't want my water to be broken for too long. I also didn't want any vaginal exams during labor, especially after my water was broken, but I wasn't sure if my curiosity would be able to really handle that...

When I got home around noon I ate lunch and got Judah ready to go to Giselle's house. I said goodbye to my first baby 😭. Then I started diffusing some labor oils, sat on my ball, and hooked up to the breast pump to try to get contractions going. Well, about a whole 2 minutes later, I felt and heard a huge pop and knew it was my water bag. (Thank goodness I had put a chux pad on the ball haha!) It was totally, completely clear! 🙌🏼 I hopped in the shower so I could just let it flow and not worry about it, and started having a few contractions. Yay! I was so glad, but still not convinced anything was really happening. Elizabeth had already planned on stopping by to borrow something around 1, so I got to talk to her for a few minutes and take a selfie. Around that time (I think), I went ahead and called Katy and Corrine and told them I was contracting so they could come whenever. Not too long after that, I needed to breathe and concentrate through contractions and was leaning on karl from in the shower. I remember Katy and Corrine getting there (around 2?) and being excited that it was really labor!

I really had not wanted to get in the tub too early and then have to get out, but soon after contractions started I just wanted to get in anyway. Karl went to start filling with water. I was waiting and waiting in the kitchen what felt like forever. Karl was doing something with a filter 😑, so I told him to forget it and just get water in there! Then I just hopped in and told him to let the water run on my back while it was filling. I labored in the tub for a while, but I really had to pee. Corrine tried to get me to pee over a little bucket (lol) but that wasn't working. So i said grab the peppermint and let's head to the toilet. Once we were in there I really wanted to poop too. Neither was coming out 🙄 I just wanted to pee and poop so bad! I tried relaxing, I tried pushing- nothing. (When we were in the bathroom I thought that labor was actually moving along and that I was in active labor, so I said we should call Sally and have her head over. She was getting off the interstate on our exit and would head straight to our house.) Then I suddenly just wanted to be back in the tub. I guess I thought if nothing was coming out, I'm getting back in the water. So I high-tailed it back into the tub. This is when I really felt like I was losing it. I for sure wanted an epidural (lol), and I knew I could not keep going like that for too much longer. It was so fast and intense and I couldn't get on top of it. I felt like I couldn't get into a rhythm, I couldn't cope, I couldn't think. Even though it was hard, and overwhelming, I wasn't afraid. I *was* trying to assess what was happening and doula myself, but that wasn't happening 😂 As a birth worker, it was nuts to not know what was happening with labor. I really had no idea when I was in active labor, when I was in transition, when I was actually pushing a baby out. At some point I even asked Katy and Corrine how much longer, and called them liars when they said not much longer haha. 
But thennnn, I started pooping and it was actually working! I was so excited and told karl to get the net. I'm telling you- I had no idea this was baby pressure. I honestly just wanted to poop 😂. For some reason right at that second, I just reached down to check myself (not sure why), and I felt baby's head about an inch or so up. WHAT 😳 Pretty sure I yelled, "where is Sally?!," and right at that moment she walked in the door. Next thing ya know I could see hair floating out into the water! Sally got the mirror in the tub so I could see while I pushed, and it was awesome. After head came out, for some reason I stood up out of the water. I could feel baby's shoulders trying to rotate but they were getting caught. Sally had me hop out the tub, do a deep lunge to make more space, and push. And then I looked down and there was a baby! It happened so fast (to me lol) and I couldn't believe it. Karl said, "it's a-" and then stopped himself so I could look and see for myself. So I got to look and say, "it's a boy!" Born at 350, 2-3? hours from my first contraction! (5 hours from my water leaking) I hadn't specifically prayed for a smaller baby, but I knew this one would be. A pound and a half smaller than Judah! Sawyer was so tiny, and born with vernix! He was perfect.

After Sawyer was born I was bleeding a little bit more than usual, so I popped a piece of placenta in my mouth, drank some placenta smoothie, and got some oils on my belly. We started talking about which drug I was gonna choose to stop the bleeding, but then -voila- it stopped and I didn't have to do any drugs. Thank you, God, for placentas! 🌳

God blessed me with immeasurably more than I ever desired for this birth. It was perfect and beautiful and redeeming in every way. It was incredible to scoop up my own baby; to hold him and do skin to skin as long as I wanted; to leave him attached to his placenta until we were ready to cut the cord, which was hours later; for Karl to skin to skin him while I was being assessed; to go to sleep in my own bed hours after having a baby! We've had a couple unexpected hiccups postpartum, but I can still say that this experience has been beyond better than the first. 
["Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours." Mark 11:24]

A Natural Guide to Postpartum

Postpartum is full of nitty gritty details that no one likes to talk about... well, unless you are a doula! Our birth doula, Kayla Mundt, is diving into postpartum to share her best tips after giving birth to her second son, Sawyer.

~Natural Immediate Postpartum~

I'm getting all my postpartum gear ready and set up for after baby and thought I'd share what I'm planning on using this go-round! I have most of these things already in a basket on the back of my toilet. 

+Depends. Ok, these aren't super natural. A better alternative would be cloth. And for after the first week I have chemical-free natural pads. (And padsicles 🙌🏼) But the first couple days just call for some Depends #sorrynotsorry #keepinitreal
+Fridet by NoseFrida. I don't think this existed when I had Judah, but I'm excited about it. It's a peri-bottle that actually squirts upside down, just where you want it. 💦
+Postpartum bath herbs for sitz baths. These are Earth Mama Angel Baby, but I also wanna grab some homemade from Caitlin Guillory with Breath of Life. So soothing. 🛀🏼
+Natural Calm. To replace the Colace. 🚽
+Clary Sage also helps minimize uterine cramps. 🌀
+Claraderm Spray. This spray has Lavender, Tera Tree, Myrrh, Frankincense, Chamomile, and Helichrysum oils in some fractionated coconut oil. It soothes the skin and helps it repair itself. It's expensive, but it's gon be worth it. 🙌🏼
+Arnica tablets reduce swelling. 👏🏼
+Joy & Frankincense (and probably others) for emotional support in the rollercoaster that is week 1 postpartum. 🎢
+Ningxia for healthy energy, brain clarity, and all-around goodness. 🦄

Not pictured: 
+Placenta pills. I'm having my placenta encapsulated. Because hormones. 💊
+After-pain tincture. I don't remember this with Judah, but I've read they're worse with each child...😖
+Alcohol-free witch hazel and the witch hazel pads. For the padsicles. Alcohol-free is important. 😳
+Belly binding. Katy is gonna bengkung belly bind me to help my diastisis recti and all my organs have the support they want. 

Moms spend so much time preparing the nursery, and/or for birth, but postpartum is often overlooked. It's so nice to have everything set up and ready to go, so I can better enjoy all that baby time.


~Postpartum Essentials for Momma~

Ok so once I'm able to get up out of bed and live real life, then what?! This is what im looking forward to this time! [I'll separately post about nursing essentials, because that's its own whole thing!]

+Water bottle. Get a big one that holds looots of water. (Stainless steel or glass if you're putting essential oils in it!) This will reappear as a nursing essential. 💧

+Newborn-friendly carrier. I'm so pumped for this beautiful Solly wrap a friend got me! 😍 I'll also use my ring sling. Whatever you feel comfortable wrapping baby in! Trust me, you'll want snuggles AND your hands. 

+Dry shampoo. Dry shampoo is life. I made this diy one with Rosemary & Bergamot oils and put it in a salt shaker 💁🏼

+Face wash. (There's a trend; you may or may not get to actually shower ha!) The minty scrub from Young Living is my favorite. The mintiness is refreshing and wakes me up too. Perfect after sleepless nights! 🌿

+Ningxia packets (convenient) and Multigreens for sustained, healthy energy. 💪🏼

+Joy & Progessence Plus. For regulating the hormones and #allthefeels. 🎢😜

+Leggings. If you didn't learn/accept this while pregnant, now is the time: leggings are pants. These are Blanqi nursing/postpartum leggings and I'm soooo excited about them. They come up to under your boobs to 1) hold it all in and 2) cover your belly for breastfeeding. 🙌🏼

+Snacks. All the healthy snacks. Ask good for nursing. Your body just completed the most physically demanding task of. all. time. Feed it right. 

Not pictured, but very important:
+Mascara. Don't have high expectations for getting ready for a while. But do what you can and need to to feel normal. Mine is mascara. 💃🏼

+Netflix. Especiallyyyyy if you're having your first baby and don't have to take care of an older child! Please do yourself a favor and just actually do nothing allllll day. Snuggles and Netflix. 📺

Bring on the baby time!


~Breastfeeding Essentials~

This one is the hardest to really predict, because breastfeeding is so unpredictable! But you can be prepared for a lot. I would say these are mostly focused on the first 6 weeks while supply is regulating, so I didn't include pumping or bottle-feeding items. 

+Water bottle. Get a big one that holds a lot. Bonus points for a straw. (Stainless steel or glass for EOs!) You will never be so thirsty in your life. 🐪

+Snacks, snacks, snacks. Bonus points for one-handed snacks like protein bars. Healthy fats, high protein, low sugar and dairy. Now's not the time to blow all your preggo healthiness. 🍎

+Coconut oil. Good for the nips, it's super soothing and doesn't have to be washed off before baby nurses. Also can be put in your coffee or smoothies for more fat! Another good option is Earth Mama Angel Baby nipple butter, but I wouldn't put that in your coffee. 😂

+Fennel. Balances and encourages lactation. May not be necessary, but good to have just in case. 🌿

+Milk-Savers. This product is new to me, and won't apply to everyone, but in the beginning many women have beacoup milk. While baby is nursing one side, this handy guy can catch all the milk from the letdown on the other side! 🙌🏼

+Hot/cold packs. These purple guys are by Lansinoh and can be warmed or put in the fridge. So soothing for engorgement, clogged ducts, all the fun times. 🍥

+NingXia / Nitro Combo. Chances are you'll be up in the night for feedings. This combo is like a 5-hour energy, but good for you and without a crash. 🎉

+Treats. So you gotta stay healthy and all, but you also grew a human and continue to grow said human. Feeding babies is hard work so I say treat yoself. 🍫

+The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding. The only breastfeeding book you need. The boobie bible. To read before birth and have on hand for reference after. Also, have on hand the number for local LCs and join your local LLL group. Your nurse, your next door neighbor, your friends aunt all have good intentions, but there's a good chance they're misinformed when it comes to breastfeeding problems, advice, etc. Get the right support. 🍼

+Nursing Pads. In the very beginning just use disposables. Way easier and less to worry about. But if you're a lucky gal who still leaks after a few weeks (🙋🏼), I vote for Bamboobies. They're super soft, not itchy, and actually unnoticeable in the bra. They have day and night ones 💦

+Pump. In the first few weeks, avoid pumping and let your supply regulate. But if you're super engorged and haaaave to (I still say hand express), a hand pump is where it's at. It's less intense than an electric and you can control it better. 🐄

Not pictured:
+Nursing pillow. My favorite is My Brest Friend, but really any support pillow is great. 
+Chiropractic care for you and baby. 
+Deep Relief Roll-On for your neck and shoulders. They'll be sore from staring at that bebe. 
+anything to do with pumping.

Parenting on Social Media is a Lie...

As I sit down to write this, I'm having to wrestle the key board away from my toddler while simultaneously holding my coffee out of his reach. He is equal parts sweet and spicy but lets be honest, I only share his sweet side with the social media world. I'm finally stopping to ask myself, "what is this saying to other parents?" If we are never real online and only ever share the cute, smiling pictures of our kids in clean, perfect outfits then we are never being our real selves. And on the flip side, whether we mean to or not, we start to compare our worst moments with everyone else's best moments. When I log onto Facebook and all I see are these perfect pictures of everyone's perfect kids I can't help but start to feel inadequate in my parenting. It's not until I call up my real-life mom friends, tell them what's going on, and feel unbelievably relieved to hear them say, "Oh man, the same thing happened yesterday!" 

So I say it's time to get real with what parenting really looks like! Here are side-by-side photos of the one's I would post to social media and the real life ones...

Fun family day at the park? Nope, time to have a huge melt down.

Why is this just a picture of me and my husband? Because my kid refused to hold still and look at the camera.

Look at all my clean, beautiful cloth diapers! But what about that one time I found a dirty diaper in a wet bag in the garage that had been there for who knows how long...

Snuggly moment with daddy? Nope, just trying to bear-hug the tantrum away.

PLEASE just take a picture with mommy!!!

What a healthy, organic breakfast for my little angel... oh wait, you're just going to dump it on your head.

Look at that tidy bedroom! WHAT? It's been 5 minutes!! And where are your clothes?!?


What does real life parenting look like in your house? Share your funny and hard moments with us, because believe me, we understand!

Tiffany's Birth Story

Just to give you the whole story about my pregnancy I will start from the very beginning.  My husband Justin and I had been trying to conceive a baby since the fall of 2005.  After many years of being unsuccessful we changed our focus to adoption and finalized two separate adoptions in 2014.  In April of 2015 I started feeling sick and, after some encouragement from a friend, I took a pregnancy test and discovered I was pregnant.  To say we were surprised was the understatement of a lifetime and we ended up taking about 5 pregnancy tests before we believed it was true.

My first phone call was to my good friend Tisha Seghers who is a midwife for Crescent City Physicians at Touro.  I was pretty confident at the time that I wanted a natural childbirth but I was nervous about committing to it thinking that I wasn’t sure if I could do it or not and I didn’t want to be over confident.  At our first appointment we talked a lot about what a natural birth would look like and what Tisha’s role would be.  She encouraged me to think about hiring a doula.  My husband and I were not 100% sure we wanted to hire a doula thinking that we wanted the birth to be the just the two of us.  We decided to talk to a few doulas in the area and see what we thought.  We only ended up meeting with one doula team, Katy Soong and Corinne Marshall, and knew almost immediately that we wanted to work with them.  After I hired them they brought on another doula Kayla Mundt so I had the added benefit of having Katy and Kayla at my birth.

Throughout my pregnancy we met with Katy and Corinne about our birth and our plan.  I started seeing Dr. Erica Manger with Wellness in Motion for regular chiropractic adjustments using the Webster Method to open my pelvis.  We also did some hypnobabies and Bradley work on our own and read both books.  We decided to take private birthing classes from Elizabeth Meier and Hailey Aliff.  I felt very prepared from all of the work we did on our own and from the people that we were working with.

I am 36 years old and I also have thyroid issues so my pregnancy was considered somewhat high risk.  Tisha and her collaborative partners referred me to Maternal Fetal Medicine with Touro.  Along with Tisha they monitored me throughout my pregnancy.  The baby was measuring very large, greater than 95th percentile, and around 27 weeks we found out I had gestational diabetes.  As it got closer to the end of my pregnancy Tisha and I met and decided that the best course of action was to look at inducing me at 38 weeks.  This wasn’t the typical practice for Tisha but we both agreed that it gave me the best chance of having the birth I wanted.  However we both made a plan to get me into labor on my own the weekend before I was scheduled to be induced.  This included everything from drinking red raspberry tea leaf, using evening primrose oil, having regular adjustments with the chiropractor, using clary sage and fennel, I scheduled two prenatal massages, and I was on my birthing ball as frequently as I could be.  I basically did anything and everything except drinking castor oil.  I mentally had prepared myself and kept saying that I was going to go into labor on my own the Saturday before my induction was scheduled.

Monday, a week before my scheduled induction, I was 37 weeks pregnant.  I woke up that morning wet and having contractions.  They weren’t really intense and I had been having them for weeks but something seemed different.  I called Tisha and she said to come in that it looked like I was in labor.  I got to her office and come to find out it was nothing.  I was so bummed.  I really thought I had started it all on my own.  I got into my head after that and as the week passed I got more and more disappointed thinking that I was going to have to be induced and I wasn’t going to go into labor on my own.  Saturday came and went and I just resigned myself that I was going to have to be induced.  I still kept up with all of my induction methods I was trying on my own.

Monday, the day I was scheduled to be induced, I woke up at 4:00am having contractions.  They were different than I had felt before so I waited about a half an hour and I started timing them.  They weren’t incredibly painful but I couldn’t sleep through them.  I was terrified to say I thought I was in labor so I didn’t say anything to my husband until about 7:00am when I was making the kids breakfast and hanging on to the countertop.  He asked what was wrong and I told him I was having regular contractions and pretty sure I was in labor.  I finally felt confident that it was happening and not going to stop around 10:00am and called Tisha, my midwife, and Katy, my doula, to let them know what was happening.  Tisha said to labor at home until I felt like the contractions were intense enough that I needed assistance from her.  She encouraged me to stay home as long as possible as she knew I would be miserable if I was at the hospital too long.  I spoke with Katy too and she also encouraged me to rest and just enjoy my time at home and to call her when I felt like I needed assistance getting through the contractions.  Around 3:00pm I called Katy and asked her to come over.  The contractions still weren’t that intense but I was going stir crazy and kept thinking I wanted to go to the hospital.  It was so funny to me because my whole pregnancy all I talked about was wanting to labor at home but once I was in labor all I wanted to do was go to the hospital.  I guess in my mind I knew that was the end game so to speak and it made me want to get there.  About 5:30 Katy and Kayla said that they were going to go grab dinner and give me some time to be alone with Justin and they would come back about 7:30 and we would get ready and make our way to Touro.  I was scheduled to be there for induction at 9:00 so Tisha said to come one way or another at that time.  When they left I applied clary sage and fennel to my pressure points and started diffusing it.  About 20 minutes later my contractions started getting much harder.  I was having to hang on to something when they would start and I could no longer talk when I was having them.  When Katy and Kayla got back to the house I was ready to go.

When we arrived at Touro Tisha came and checked me and I was 4 ½ centimeters dilated and almost fully effaced.  She said there was really no reason to give me any of the induction medications.  I was beyond thrilled!  I had gotten it started on my own and I was going to be able to have a fully medication free birth.  We decided to let my husband go to sleep and I was laboring with Katy and Kayla.  I went from the birthing ball to the rocking chair to the bed.  Around 1am or so they asked me if I wanted to get into the tub.  I went to stand up and get out of the bed and my water broke.  Again I was so excited that things were progressing on their own so naturally.  Well then it got real and very intense. 

I started having really intense contractions and was not getting a break.  I also started having back labor and the contractions would come on in my abdomen and as soon as it would end it would go to my back and I would have another one.  The tub was helpful but I was starting to cave.  They kept telling me that I was in transition and that it was the hardest part but I just kept getting in my head and thinking about how I was going to push this baby out when I literally thought I was going to not make it through the contractions.  I finally caved and called my husband over to the tub and asked for the epidural.  He was so sweet and he just looked at me and said, No.  I literally just stared at him.  He said no, you can’t have an epidural because I know it isn’t what you want.  You want a natural birth and you are so strong and I love you and you can do this.  I wanted to cry but I also knew he was right so I got into my zone again and I committed myself that I could do it.  A little while after this I fell asleep, in the tub.  No clue how long I slept for.  

Throughout transition I mostly stayed in the tub.  I got up and walked around the room some and also got in the shower or laid in the bed.  I spent a lot more time in the bed than I thought I would have but it was comfortable and I was happy there.  Around 7:00am Tisha came and checked me again and I was 10cm.  There was a part of his bag still attached and I also had some scar tissue around my cervix that needed to break before he was going to come out so I needed a little more time.  I was also not mentally ready to push at this point.  I got back in the tub for a little while but was still certain I didn’t want to birth in there.  I started feeling the urge to push and about 11:30 they got me out of the tub and into the bed to push.  As soon as I started pushing Tisha was called into a delivery next door and had to leave the room.  There was a complication and she ended up being gone much longer than originally anticipated.  By the grace of God I rolled over and fell asleep again.  When Tisha came back in the room I needed a little coaxing to get back in the game.  My husband put on his drill sergeant hat for a moment and was like wake up and let’s do this thing.  I finally got up and pushed about 4 times and he was out.  I had built it up in my head so much and it happened so quickly.  I expected pushing to be so much worse than it was.  It was a lot of pressure and then I felt the ring of fire and a few snaps, which must have been me tearing, and then he was out and on my chest.  

It was literally the most amazing feeling and it was everything I wanted it to be.  My birth was long but perfect and I would do it again in a heartbeat.  

The biggest things that I took away from my birth experience were that it didn’t hurt nearly as much as I thought it was going to.  It was uncomfortable and exhausting as I ended up being in labor for 35 hours but it didn’t hurt like I expected it to.  The one thing I would change is that I would have communicated better with my doulas and my husband.  I was scared or nervous at certain points throughout the labor but I didn’t want to admit I was scared so I stayed in my own head a lot.  I think that everyone would have been able to meet my needs better if I had communicated it them.

I do feel like my birth was successful because I built the right support system.  My doulas and midwife were amazing and I would not have been able to do it without them.  

Kayla's Birth Story

The 42 weeks that he grew safe in my belly were glorious. The forty hours that I worked to bring him into the world were amazing. The moment he was born was absolutely perfect. I am still so thankful for the peace that surrounded me throughout labor; I was never afraid, and completely trusted God, my birth team, and my body. I am still so thankful for God’s healing, and my sweet, healthy, PERFECT boy.

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