The Stork OTC

The Stork OTC: A Natural Way to Get Pregnant

Disclosure: This is a sponsored conversation from Mums the Word Network and The Stork OTC. All opinions are my own.

Sometimes getting pregnant on your own is not easy. Many factors may play a role. There is now a new FDA cleared product on the market that can assist you in getting pregnant, before you turn to other complicated methods to become pregnant.

The Stork OTC Home Conception Device does not include, shots, scans, prescriptions or procedures. This device is made to be used at home. No doctors offices!

Many women do not want to turn to injections and prescriptions. They want to become pregnant naturally whether that be receiving acupuncture, regular chiropractic care, changing diet, or taking natural supplements. The Stork OTC is now another natural option available in your toolbox.

How does it work? Here is a great breakdown of exactly how it works!

The Stork OTC uses cervical cap insemination which has been shown to have up to a 20% success rate. It’s very easy to use and you can do it right in the privacy of your own home. Currently it retails for $79.99 and can be found in Walgreens, CVS, and Target along with buying it online. This is a much cheaper option to IUI and gets 3 times higher sperm concentration at the cervix compared with natural intercourse plus it has worked for many couples. Just take a look at the success stories from their site!

Interested in trying Stork OTC? There are two great promotions going on NOW!

  1. Buy 1 Stork OTC, Get 1 Stork OTC 50% at Target from August 6 – August 19.
  2. 25% off Stork OTC Single Device at the Stork OTC Online Store through the end of August. Not sure where to buy? Search here.

Do not miss an upcoming Twitter party on August 17 at 8 p.m. EST! Make sure you participate using hashtag #TTCwithStorkOTC.

 

HowtoFindDoula

How to Find a Doula

You’ve already decided that hiring a doula to attend your birth is the right decision for you and your partner. You already know all the amazing things that doulas can do for you during pregnancy, birth, and postpartum after reading my previous article  and you’re blown away by the research supporting the use of doulas. There are many ways to find a doula….here are a few ways to get started!

Word of mouth

Consult with your friends and family in the area. Did they have a good experience with a doula? Ask your chiropractor, massage therapist, yoga teacher, childbirth educator, physical therapist, etc. Asking people whose opinion you value and trust may help narrow the field to a handful of doulas that you may like to interview and get to know on a more personal level.

Doula Groups

Doula associations, agencies, and collectives are groups of doulas in a community. These groups meet on a regular basis for continuing education, support, and networking. These doula groups often have a website with their members listed with links to their profiles or personal websites.To learn more about the different ways doulas work, check out this concise article on the topic. Here in central Iowa, the Central Iowa Doula Association, Iowa Doula Agency, and Mid-Iowa Doulas are some great options!

Websites and Doula Match pages

Most doulas and doula groups have websites, social media pages, and/or a Doula Match profile. By viewing their online content, you should get a feel for a particular doula and the services they offer. Some doulas offer services at additional cost including placenta encapsulation, photography, childbirth education classes, breastfeeding and/or postpartum support, and fitness classes. Doula fees range in price, often by several hundred dollars based on their experience and services. Look for testimonials from past clients, or ask for references. If having a doula who is certified through a professional organization is important to you, you should be able to find that information on their website or profile. Doulas of North America (DONA), Childbirth and Postpartum Professional Association (CAPPA), and Birthworks International are some of the more widely known certifying organizations.

Start early in your pregnancy and schedule interviews

Doula schedules often fill up quickly, so don’t wait! You may be able to view a doula’s schedule on their website or Doula Match profile; otherwise, email or call to check availability for your estimated due date. Plan to interview at least two to three doulas and bring your birth partner! Doulas usually offer an interview or consultation at no cost or obligation. These interviews last about one hour and are often held in a coffee shop or other public place.

The interview

One of the most important aspects of the doula interview is to see if you and your partner feel comfortable and relaxed with the doula, and if you feel a personal connection. You may decide to ask questions about:

  • the doula’s background, training, and experience with birth
  • why they became a doula and what they enjoy about doula work
  • what services the doula provides, including number, length, and topic of visits
  • the doula’s fees and payment schedules
  • if the doula has a back-up, what circumstances will one be used, and if you can meet the back-up
  • the types of comfort techniques the doula typically provides
  • experience with certain providers, birthing locations, or types of birth

Be prepared for questions from your doula! Doulas often want to know about the type of birth you envision, if you are taking childbirth education classes, and how you’d like your doula to support you and your partner. After you’ve interviewed the doulas you are interested in, think about it! Most doulas give you a few days or a week to consider your decision. Once you have chosen your doula, she will provide you with a contract to consider. This contract protects both of you by outlining fees and when they are due, back-up doula situations, expectations of both you and the doula, and more.

Now that you know how to get started, go out there and find the doula that is right for you! Because every mom deserves support, encouragement, respect, and peace on the day of her baby’s birth. You got this!

About the Author

Kelli Brus CD(DONA) is a mom of two wonderful girls and has been married to her husband since 2007. She lives in Urbandale and is currently taking a break from teaching with Des Moines Public Schools to take care of her little ones and focus on doula work. After her second birth experience, attended by a doula, she knew this was the type of work she wanted to do. She is certified through DONA International (Doulas of North America) and is part of the Central Iowa Doula Association (CIDA). Making sure all moms have support and respect during their birth experiences is so meaningful to Kelli and why she is so dedicated to doula work.

www.dsmdoula.com

dsmdoula@gmail.com

 

Connected Parenting

Connected Parenting: Thoughts From a Therapist Mom

The other day I stood in my driveway crying, with my 2.5 year old daughter screaming and sobbing. All I could gather was that she didn’t like my shirt (yes mine, not hers… what?) and no longer liked her car seat. We had just had a 30 minute meltdown inside the house too, and I was frustrated because I really needed to get to work. I was tired, with a mix of mom brain and new pregnancy hormones. I bribed her with a sucker and threatened to take away something that I don’t even remember. It didn’t work. I gave her hugs and gave her space and had no feedback of which was better. Finally it became clear: my options were to connect or disconnect. I thought about which one I would want when I feel emotional and sad. Connection. I repeated quietly to her, “I’m right here with you. I love you.” When she hit me, I stepped back a little and said, “I can’t let you hurt me. I’m still right here with you. I’m ready to help you whenever you’re ready.” After a little while I thought, “Crap, that didn’t work, now what?” And right then, she lifted her little arms up to me and said, “I need you mommy, I’m ready.” I hugged her and she hugged me and I cried some more. I felt a real connection in that moment, and I felt like I really showed her that I would be with her through everything, and I also wouldn’t let her hit me. I honestly felt like we’d just gotten through a hurricane and come out into the sunshine. She smiled and got in her car seat and we were on our way. On the car ride, we talked about feeling sad and that it’s okay to feel sad and mad, but it’s not okay to hurt people.

That sounds like a great ending, right? It was. But I wish that meant it always happens like that. I have no idea why sometimes that works, and sometimes the only thing that works is a sucker, or distraction, or someone else taking over.

I’m not a perfect mom, or even a really amazing mom, just a regular mom who is still new and learning every day. But I do have one added bonus that has given me a different perspective: I’ve been a mental health therapist for almost five times longer than I’ve been a mom. I don’t know if it’s been helpful, or just makes me more obsessively worried about my effect on my daughter, but it has taught me a lot. I would say there are four main things I’ve learned about parenting:

1. What we say and do matters more than we know right now.

Everything we say and do has an impact, especially to our children. Children’s brains operate as if they’re looking in to a mirror; whatever the world shows them about themselves is what they believe to be true. If babies are not fed when they’re hungry, they can actually make themselves believe they don’t need to eat, which is why they eventually stop crying. I know you already know to feed your baby when he or she is hungry, but the takeaway is that our actions actually have an effect on their brains long term.

As a therapist, I mainly work with depression and trauma. I do a particular type of therapy that focuses on identifying negative cognitions (thoughts and beliefs) and exploring/healing the root of those beliefs, whether they are from a big trauma or ”little” trauma. We work on cognitions such as, “I’m not good enough,” “I’m not safe,” “I don’t deserve love,” etc. Clients often come to therapy identifying that these beliefs stemmed from a big event, usually in high school or college, like a break up, abusive relationship, loss of a job, assault, etc. But when we really process it, they are sometimes able to identify that the very first time they felt that way was an interaction with a parent. It could be a parent saying something like:

“You’re never going to make it in life.”

“I liked it better when you were little and didn’t talk.”

“I can’t believe you did that, I’m embarrassed that you’re my child.”

And even, “I love you, but I don’t like you right now” (I always recommend, “I don’t like your choice right now, but I always love you.”) If you’re a new mom gazing in to your sweet baby’s eyes, you’re thinking, “I would never say those things to my child!” Let me tell you, good parents sometimes say things they don’t mean when they’re pushed to their limits. But even if you don’t mean it, it hurts your child and sticks with them.

2. It’s never too late to make things better.

 That first one is kind of scary, right? So much pressure! But there’s good news! Teaching your children that you can make mistakes, take responsibility, apologize, and demonstrate change is extremely important! And what better way to do that than by example? Starting when they’re little, it’s important to go back and say something like, “I yelled when I felt mad, and I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have yelled and I’m sorry I hurt your feelings.” Then show by example that you’re trying. Next time you feel like yelling, it’s okay to take a parent time out, and say to your child, “I feel frustrated by _____, I’m going to take a break, and then we’ll come back and talk about this.” Imagine how great it would be if, when they’re teens, they’re able to recognize they’re in the midst of making a bad choice, stop themselves, and reach out for help from you? The goal isn’t for people to never make bad choices, it’s to be able to recognize that and make a U-turn.

3. Connection is our greatest tool

 Imagine you’re having a really tough day. Maybe you made a mistake at work, someone was really mean to you, you didn’t get something you wanted, or you’re just dealing with something really awful. Maybe it’s huge or maybe you’re even over reacting; it doesn’t matter. You sit on the couch and cry. You can’t even help it, the tears just come out and you can hardly speak. Imagine your partner comes in, your main support person, and they tell you that you need to calm down or they’re going to leave you alone until you can calm down. They walk out of the room and leave you there alone, maybe even yell at you on the way out. Ouch!! I know for me personally, some of that sadness would turn to major hurt, resentment, and anger. “How can you leave me when I really need you? I can’t just calm down, I need a hug!” That’s how our developed adult brains react, so imagine how a toddler’s brain reacts? It’s scary for them to feel out of control and then all alone in that feeling. Even if it’s just because they didn’t get the blue cup, it’s real sadness and hurt in that moment for them. Of course, they don’t know that not having the blue cup is nothing compared to the real problems in the world, but at two years old, that is a real problem. This has been said by others, and I really believe it to be true; if we send toddlers to be by themselves and calm themselves down when they’re upset, how can we expect them to come to us as teens when they really need advice and support? It’s no wonder teenagers keep it to themselves and hide in their rooms. It’s what they’ve often been taught to do. So, what can you do to connect and teach your children they can talk to you? Well, that’s a magic answer that really needs a whole book, but #4 is a good start.

4. Being able to express feelings, instead of suppressing them, is a great lifelong skill.

 “You’re okay.”

“Don’t cry.”

“Calm down.”

They all seem well meaning, right? But are they helpful in the long run? My opinion is: No. Is it helpful for you when someone says it to you? It’s not helpful to me. Even at two years old, if my husband or I say to our daughter, “You’re okay”, she quickly says between tears, “No, I’m not!” And she’s right. If she were okay she wouldn’t be crying! If she could just calm down and stop crying, she probably would have done that, because she certainly isn’t enjoying feeling like that. Pointing out to children, “It looks like you’re mad because _____. That’s okay to feel mad. What can we do that will help?” teaches them to recognize emotions, label them, and create a plan. This is most helpful when they’re not in full on meltdown mode, because once they get to that point they can’t come up with a solution. In meltdown mode, establishing expectations and connections are key. “I can’t let you hit me, but I’m right here with you when you’re ready.” “I see you feel sad, that’s ok.” “It’s okay to be sad and mad; it’s not okay to be mean to other people when you’re sad or mad.” “Tell me where you want me to stay while I wait for you to be ready for help; I can sit next to you or right over here.” These all show that you’re there with your child through everything, you see how they’re feeling, you hear them, it’s okay to feel any of those feelings, and there are still expectations for not hurting others. When we inadvertently teach our children that “it’s ok” when they actually don’t feel ok, or that they just need to quickly calm down, we are teaching them not to recognize their own feelings and actually deal with them. When those kids become adults, they often freeze or flee in tough situations because they don’t know how to be in it, feel it, and move forward with a plan.

I know, this feels like a lot of pressure, and it’s so much easier said than done! Refer back to number two; it’s never too late to make things better. And remember, even people who are supposed to be experts in emotions and connections sometimes just bribe their kids with a sucker or an episode of Doc McStuffins to get through the day. Take a deep breath and hang in there; I’m right there with you.

About the Author

Alyson Pearson is a mom, half of a lovely marriage, and a clinical social worker/therapist. She has a two year old daughter and another girl on the way. Alyson believes in a positive parenting style, and has read the first 40 pages of several books on the topic, but believes that trusting her gut, defaulting to connection, and learning from every moment are the best teachers. Alyson also enjoys blogging about her journey of having a child with Food Protein Induced Enterocolitis Syndrome, in order to help others who are on the same journey.

 

BirthDoula

What is a Birth Doula?

Do you want to be fully supported during your pregnancy, birth, and postpartum period? Do you want someone in the birthing room solely dedicated to providing you comfort and experienced information?

Do you want to have the best possible birth experience? A doula may be right for you!!

A certified birth doula is a trained and experienced professional who is hired to assist with birth. A doula meets with her client and birth partner two to three times during pregnancy to learn their personalities, hopes and fears, and past experiences with birth. Birth plans, basic childbirth education, community resources, interventions, comfort techniques, and newborn care may be discussed during these prenatal meetings. A doula comes to the birthing woman during labor, remains until the baby is born, and stays an hour or two afterwards. Examples of the types of support a doula may provide during labor include, but are not limited to:

  • Massage and touch
  • Encouragement of mobility, motion, and vocalizations
  • Counterpressure on low back and hips
  • Position suggestions for labor and pushing
  • Assistance with breathing, relaxation, and tension release
  • Heat and/or cold to ease discomforts
  • Encouragement to use water, including shower and/or tub
  • Verbal praise and feedback
  • Reframe thoughts, fears, and feelings during labor, if needed
  • Continuous presence with main role of supporting mom
  • Assistance with decisions during labor
  • Encourage partner to take bathroom and meal breaks, and rest if possible
  • Leave the medical tasks (i.e., blood pressure, heart tones, etc) to the nurses, doctors, and midwives

Doulas support women and their partners regardless of the type of birth they are planning, whether that be in a home, hospital, or birth center, if they plan to use pain medication or not, and if they decide to bottle feed or breastfeed. In other words, doulas support you in the type of birth YOU want!  

After the baby is born, doulas visit within the first week or two to assist with basic breastfeeding concerns, discuss the mother and couple’s adaptation to a new baby, and discuss their thoughts about the birth experience. For more continuous support during the postpartum period, consider hiring a postpartum doula.

As the birth of your baby is one of the most memorable experiences of your life, consider hiring a doula to assist you with your birth! “A woman, as long as she lives, will remember how she was made to feel at her birth.” ~Anna Verwaal

Stay tuned for Part 2, where I will discuss how to find a doula!

About the Author

Kelli Brus CD(DONA) is a mom of two wonderful girls and has been married to her husband since 2007. She lives in Urbandale and is currently taking a break from teaching with Des Moines Public Schools to take care of her little ones and focus on doula work. After her second birth experience, attended by a doula, she knew this was the type of work she wanted to do. She is certified through DONA International (Doulas of North America) and is part of the Central Iowa Doula Association (CIDA). Making sure all moms have support and respect during their birth experiences is so meaningful to Kelli and why she is so dedicated to doula work.

www.dsmdoula.com

dsmdoula@gmail.com

515-210-0066

 

 

UpSpringBaby

Postpartum Care with UpSpring Baby

Disclosure: This post was created in partnership with MommyCon + UpSpring Baby, but all thoughts are my very own.

 

After having a baby every woman needs a little support. Carrying a baby for nine months changes you emotionally and physically. UpSpring Baby understands that new mamas body’s need a little support. They have designed a new Post Pregnancy Belly Wrap.

This new Bamboo Charcoal belly wrap will shrink your post-baby belly faster than any other belly wraps you may see on the market. This specific belly wrap includes bamboo charcoal fiber technology and a triple-point compression to help you shrink your uterus and make you slimmer.

The fact that this belly wrap shrinks your belly fast is great, but one common thing I hear from postpartum mom’s is how uncomfortable their stomachs feel after giving birth. Think about it. You have spent 9 months (or more) carrying around a baby and then all of a sudden one day you are not. Your body takes time to change and bounce back to the way it was. Wearing a belly wrap regularly is a great way to feel a bit more confident and supported. It also provides great support after a c-section and supports your lower back.

Get the Bamboo Charcoal belly wrap added to your baby registry!

Check out UpSpring Baby’s 100% Pure Virgin Coconut Oil too! A great option for you and baby to help soothe, protect and helps with healing.

UpSpring Baby offers a ton of products for breastfeeding, prenatal, postnatal, and baby care. Make sure you add them as a trusted source for you and your family.

 

Motherhood

What No One Tells You About Motherhood

You won’t find the answers in this article about how to sleep train your baby or potty train your toddler.  I’m writing about those hidden lessons that you learn as you become a mother that no one warned you about.  And I promise you that I don’t have all the answers!  Let me share:

It’s so easy to lose yourself.

In the beginning you get so wrapped up in that little one and making sure you are doing what’s best for them.  Suddenly you find yourself with three inch roots, eating lunch over the sink and your workout consist of running up the stairs when they wake up crying.  These little people become our lives but here’s the secret…. YOU are also living yours.  Your life doesn’t have to stop just because you have kids.  There is a way that you can co-exist peacefully, somewhere in the middle.

You must find support.

When my oldest kids were very little, we didn’t have family close.  And it was very, very hard.  While my husband and I relied on each other as a team through that period, I also had an “adoptive grandmother.”  When I was at the end of my rope with my two oldest, who were 18 months apart and getting out of the house very little, I reached out to an older lady in my church to ask if she knew of anyone who would be willing to watch kids a few hours at a time during the day in case I needed to get out.  And she offered herself.  Having her, even if it was only a few hours one day a week helped me immensely.  Not only for errand running purposes but also for some sanity.  I often joke that older ladies who retire need not get a part-time job, they can make great money being “grandmas for hire.”  My point isn’t that you simply need a babysitter, but you need people who you can rely on to help you, especially when there’s no family.  This lady was often my emergency contact for school, after my husband and I, simply because I didn’t know who else to put!  Find a friend, a neighbor, a church member, someone who can help you when there’s no one else.

Learn to trust yourself.

Everyone has advice for you- your doctor, your mother, your friend and even the lady in the checkout line.  And there’s never been a more stressful time to be a mother because there’s seven different articles that conflict on whether or not the “science” supports your decisions or not.  

Because OMG what if you are wrong in how you are raising them and they don’t get a good job or end up living in your basement until they’re 30.  If you let them eat that Oreo they will probably have Type 2 diabetes by age 20 and if they quit the soccer team at age eight their sports career will be over.

You have to learn to trust your gut.  You know your kids and your family.  The heck with the rest of them.

It’s all a balancing act.  

At first it’s diapers and nap schedules and feedings which leads to pickup/drop offs from school and play dates.  And before long it’s soccer practice and sleepovers and then they’re driving.  IT HAPPENS THAT FAST.  It seems like just when you feel good about parenting, your marriage suffers.  Or your career.  Something.  Everything is not going to go fantastically all at the same time.  As a mother, you have to pour your energy into so many different areas that you can’t possibly cover them well simultaneously.  You have to just do your best to balance it all.  Sometimes that means cereal for supper, not making it to the baseball game or hearing them cry when you leave for a date night.

Enjoy every stage.

This is a big one.  No one tells you to stop waiting until you no longer have a baby or a toddler to do this or that.  Or you are convinced that when they stop teething or they sleep through the night life will get better.  Or after they start school, they’ll be such a fun age.  THE FUN IS NOW.  Even when they are total nightmares, you must find something to enjoy about the NOW.  Even when they’re teenagers and they can’t stand you, enjoy the NOW.  Because you cannot wait until ____ to be happy.  And it truly goes so fast.  

No one is doing it perfectly.

I don’t care if you’re Martha Stewart or Betty Crocker, no one is doing this perfectly.  No one knows the “right” answers.  Hopefully we’re all just doing our “best.” Generally we all love our children and want them to grow up to be self-sufficient members of society.  Don’t worry about the days you take your kids to school in your jammies or when they all get lice or they fail art class.  Life isn’t perfect and neither is your family’s.

The hardest part is letting go.

Insert big sobs- you spend so much time doing x,y, z that suddenly your babies are all grown up.  And they don’t even need you anymore!  Now after all the sacrificing you’ve done, they’ll be gone!  It’s such a terrible, awful part of motherhood that no one tells you.  But it’s what we’ve been working for all these years.  And the love you’ve dumped every day into their buckets will dumped into their spouses buckets and their kids’ buckets and your grandkids’ buckets.  The love you gave them freely will be passed from one generation to the next.  And that’s beyond amazing.  I truly believe Mother Teresa said it best, “If you want to change the world, go home and love your family.”

You’ve got this mama.  Take these truths and know that we’re all there at some point. I wish you a wonderful Mother’s Day.

Author Holly Jirovsky 

Holly Jirovsky blogs at Style from the Sticks, a blog for real moms just like you.  Before becoming a mother, she worked in advertising as a writer and also in the publishing industry.  Now she is a work-from-home mom who lives with her husband, four children and dog in rural Iowa.

Style from the Sticks is a combination blog of fashion, home decor and lifestyle/parenting.  You can follow her on Facebook here.

 

PPExperience (1)

Postpartum: A Mother’s Story – Edition One

The postpartum period for every mother is a huge transition. Every woman deals with different emotions and struggles, but it is amazing how many other women are dealing with the very same things. I have created this series in hopes for us all to know that we are not alone. I have asked mothers to submit their stories, so other expecting, new, and struggling mom’s can feel some comfort in knowing they are not alone. Below is the very first edition to our series Postpartum: A Mother’s Story.

Are you interested in sharing your story? If you have questions or would like to share please feel free to e-mail me. These stories can be left anonymous if you wish.

Written by Amanda

 

My water broke the day before my due date and I labored 15 hours and gave birth the next day on my due date to my first baby. A beautiful 7 lbs 9 oz perfect little boy. I took birth classes and had my wonderful husband and mother there with me- I felt very supported and had a great experience. I was not prepared for how tired I would be after though. I was committed to breastfeeding and the around the clock feeding was very overwhelming to get used to. After returning home I experience two weeks of postpartum depression. I loved my baby so much-it was like everyone had told me- a love so fierce you can’t explain until you have your own kids. But I had this rising anxiety inside of me knowing that this little person depended on me for everything. I felt trapped and then I felt guilty that I felt that way. My mom and husband were great at keeping me even-keel and reassuring me that this was normal and my hormones, emotions and new life would all balance out. And that’s exactly what happened: after two weeks my hormones started to even out and I felt like I could enjoy my new little baby. I think a huge part of the overwhelming feelings I had were due to how unprepared I was to be sleep deprived. I’m not sure if you can prepare yourself for that. Up every 2-3 hours nursing at night, and then it takes time for baby to fall back asleep too. My husband had paternity leave, but I don’t know how moms do it without someone there around the clock like I had. It’s funny though how you so well adapt and just get used to the new routine of motherhood. Your mommy instincts kick in and you figure out how to make it work. And not only just make it work, but love making it work. Being a mother is the most sacrificial thing there is to do, and yet the most rewarding.

My baby is now 9 months old and I can’t believe the time has gone by so quickly. I hope to have a few more kids someday. Becoming a mother feels like stepping into the thing I was meant to do.

Written by Kristina Grier 

 

My name is Kristina.  I had my first child (and only child so far) October 2, 2015.  Her name is Olive, and is 17 months!

I went in on October 1 around 8 p.m. to be induced.  I was already having contractions every 2 minutes on my own, but was still placed on pitocin & eventually got an epidural around midnight.  I was able to sleep all night and started pushing at 6 a.m., had her at 0728!  I didn’t have any tearing and did not need any stitches so thought it was going to be such a painless recovery.  I was extremely swollen and sore from having such a strong epidural that I pushed for such a long time and didn’t really know what I was doing and was not pushing correctly from not being able to feel anything.  I can remember those days in the hospital after she was born and bleeding quite heavily every time I stood out of bed or the chair from nursing her.  I had to sit on a doughnut pillow for about a week from how sore I was.  I made sure to ask for extra mesh underwear, the huge pads, and extra cans of that dermaplast and tucks pads to take home which I still used for 1-2 weeks postpartum to help with the pain.

My milk came in a day or two after we got home from the hospital.  It was the worse than labor.  I honestly can remember just sitting on the living room floor bawling because I was reading all these random Facebook posts about how I should not pump at all for the first few weeks so my milk gets regulated and to just keep putting the baby on my breast.  Olive had a lip and tongue tie that made nursing the most painful thing as well.  My nipples looked like fried hamburger and bled for the first several weeks.  I hated showering because when I would step out they had such awful nerve shooting pain.  I went to lactation consultants who encouraged me to take her to a pediatric dentist to correct the lip tie.  The pediatric dentist told me her lip tie wasn’t that bad but she could do her tongue tie.  She told me it was elective and might or might not help the breastfeeding pain I was experiencing from her.  I declined the procedure because even though I wanted to breastfeed so bad, it wasn’t worth putting her through that if she did not need it.

For the first 2-3 months, I exclusively breastfed Olive and had tears over 50% of the time when she would latch on.  I can remember bawling so many times that I wanted to quit and formula wasn’t all that bad (which it definitely is not), but I kept going.  She is 17 months and still nurses.  She is allergic to all dairy so it is a good thing I have be able to nurse this long and have a deep freeze completely full for those daycare days.

I really thought my maternity leave was going to be all fun, get dressed cute, and go out with her to show her off.  We spent 90% of maternity leave in sweats, non-showered, and cuddles.  What I would do to go back to those days.  Actually…what I would do to go back to October 1 at 8 p.m. …. honestly, best 24 hours of a high in my entire life.  The moment of her being held above me and her firmly placed onto my bare chest is something I cannot get out of my mind and heart. Ever.  I can almost feel that exact moment still today & have a feeling I always will.

Beautycounter

Skin Products: What Are We Putting On Our Body?

I remember before I became pregnant with my son, now five years old. I never really thought about the products I used on my body whether it was the facial cleanser , body wash, shampoo, body sprays, or lotion I used. When I became pregnant I quickly learned that not only everything I consumed impacted my growing baby, but what I put on my body did too!

It is extremely common for women to completely change how they view things and take a closer look at everything once they become pregnant and have children of their own. Once your child is born, it’s a whole other ball game. Some common questions include “is this safe for my baby?” “Is this safe to put on my body, when my child is nursing?” 

It is important that we do our research and live by example. Whether it be an example for our friends and family, or our growing children. Our children are watching us daily. If we are using products that are safe, our children will know no other way.

While at Shiftcon in December, I learned so much about an amazing company Beautycounter. I had just recently been introduced to it by my good friend Emily Boyd. I quickly learned that Beautycounter was much more then just a company selling beauty products, but this company is playing a huge part in the education and change of beauty products in the industry.

I invited Emily Boyd to chat with you and share exactly what Beautycounter is doing, how you can learn about what is safe and what is not safe to put on the largest organ of our body (yes, our skin!)

It was about two years ago when my close friend and boss got the devastating call that the lump in her breast was in fact cancer.

That moment was something I’ll never forget, but what was even more impactful to me was the response she had.

She decided that she was going to win the battle and make some powerful decisions to ensure she got healthy & stayed healthy. She was not going to be a victim and hide away in sadness. She was going to fight & I decided that I was going to journey on a similar path.

I have some influential voices in my life who have educated me on the impacts of foods we consume, products we use to clean our homes, and the personal care products we put on our hair, our eyes, and our largest organ: our skin. However, I have learned that during her treatment, she hosted a Beautycounter social and because I love my friend, I gladly obliged (Wine? Yes, please!). What I learned that night radically changed my view of personal care products.

Here are the key takeaways from that evening that eventually led to me being a business owner & educator with Beautycounter.

  1. Many of the products we use on our skin are loaded with toxic chemicals that are disrupting hormones, messing with our overall endocrine system, potentially changing our DNA (what?!) and many other scary health issues. People often ask…

  2. How is that even possible and legal? We haven’t passed a major federal law since 1938 that regulates the cosmetic industry. This industry that’s worth $60 billion only bans 30 ingredients from your products. The European Union bans well over 1400. So, what the heck are we doing about it?!

  3. Beautycounter and its 30,000+ (and growing) educators are working with legislators and trying hard to make federal changes that protect you. We are also sharing our missiong to “get safer products into the hands of everyone” through socials, conversations, posts like this (thanks, Erin!) and social media.

  4. So how do you know what’s harmful? We know some ingredients for sure are linked to human health, but we have barely even scratched the surface with other ingredients. Here are some major offenders: parabens, pthalates, sulfates, triclosan, and retinol. We actually provide consumers with our amazing Never List full of ingredient names & how they might be impacting you right here.

  5. What should you do? Flip your bottles, my friends. The first and most important thing you can do is figure out what’s harmful & what’s not. The Environmental Working Group (the EWG) provides a great database where you can look up your product or the specific ingredients in your products. It’s not entirely comprehensive, but it’s a good start.

  6. Don’t think for even one second that just because something says “organic” or “green” or “natural” that it actually is. These words can be slapped on anything and everything. It’s false marketing and quite frankly, pretty unethical in my opinion. Do your research.

Let me remind you… your health is your greatest asset. If you’re healthy, you can invest in relationships, a career, hobbies, and working towards the life you want to have. I know this certainly isn’t black and white, but I feel like our society has been taught that the way we treat our sickness is reactively. Why not choose to be proactive?

There has recently been articles about lead in personal care products (this is also legal to put in your skin, but in your paint – what?!), the impact of chemicals in teenagers from personal care products, and how “all safe/natural” products like Wen are causing serious issues like hair loss.

This post is intended to educate and inform. As a Beautycounter educator and business owner, I love the opportunity to work with women on some safer options to purchase, however my ultimate goal is for you to feel like you can make an informed purchasing decision. Maybe that means organic coconut oil is your body lotion or you use essential oils as your fragrance.

If you want to support our movement for #BetterBeauty, check out our “Chanel meets Whole Foods” products; the packaging is absolutely stunning and you never have to worry about what is in it. 

If this resonates with you, there is always an opportunity to participate in this growing company (we are only 3.5 years old!) and make a difference while earning extra cash. It’s not for everyone, but it certainly is for some people. Beautycounter knows that the only way we can make a lasting impact is to have more voices, so they offer a generous compensation plan to help everyone move the needle.

Oh yeah, and the company was started by a woman in the United States (yes!).

If you want to continue the conversation, send me a message through this site. Onward & upward, Midwest Moms & Wives.

 

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From Belly To Birth: A Blog Created to Empower, Inform, and Amuse

I found out I was pregnant on the coldest day in January, during the particularly cold winter of 2014. I had my suspicions about being pregnant, but the test was negative that morning as I left to drive my husband to work. I got home, went to throw the test away, and saw the faintest little second line. WHaaaaa….?!? My husband (a surgery resident) was doing a rotation in electroshock anesthesia at that time, and texted me before he started his next case: “I’ll be done at 5, are you pregnant?” I responded, covertly: “Sounds great! See you then.” Phew…dodged that bullet. I’ll tell him in person tonight, I thought. Ding! “ARE YOU PREGNANT??” Not sure how else to respond I typed the three words that would change life forever: “I think so!”

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Photo credit: Studio 10101 @ www.karadunbar.com

New to the area, I had no idea who to request for an OB so I took the first available, and ended up with a doctor who would punch me lightly on the arm and say “Everything looks great, champ!” Every time he finished giving me a pelvic exam. It was awesome. Throughout the next months I scoured the internet for any and all information I could find on delivering at the University of Iowa Hospital – and other options for OB’s.

I really just wanted to know what to expect (Do they encourage skin to skin? Will I have to fight to avoid an episiotomy?) and how would it be delivering with this doctor? Luckily I had a different OB for delivery, and my experience was great. But it gave birth to the idea for my blog (sorry, I had to). I started with the vision of collecting thousands of birth stories, and with that, details of thousands of health professionals and birthing facilities. I wanted a woman to be able to find a birth story from someone who used her hospital or doctor. To be able to see how that doctor responded to a complication, what that hospital’s policies were for rooming in, or how the nurses responded when she didn’t want to breastfeed. Real life accounts are hard to find, especially for a specific practitioner or facility, and I wanted to be able to provide that.

As From Belly To Birth has grown and evolved, the birth stories coming in have ebbed and flowed. So I started sharing more of my own journey (and mishaps) as a mother and young woman navigating these years that so often revolve around babies. I definitely don’t have any accreditation as a mom, but I love sharing what works for me, and more often what doesn’t. Because it turns out, we’re all in a more similar place than we realize. I also love posting stuff that might make you smirk, or at least roll your eyes, because I feel like so often the stuff I scroll through makes me feel like I’m not good enough, life is hard, and the world is evil. So I hope I can make you to feel like you’re not alone in your shortcomings, life is pretty damn funny, and the world is good.

You’ll find birth stories from around the Midwest (and beyond), my favorite Pinterest recipe board, Friday Funnies every week, updates on things like Zika, and much more.  I’d love it if you’d consider sharing your story to help empower women in your community. I think we all have more to give than we realize and what better place to start than with our stories of loss and birth, of heartache and life’s miracles.

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Empowering Moms With Yoga

I started practicing yoga in 2009 when I lived in Green Bay, WI. Shortly after, I found out that I was expecting my first child and continued in the same yoga class throughout my pregnancy. My instructor helped me with modifications as my belly grew, but he was not prenatal certified. During this time, I was also working toward becoming a certified birth doula (DONA). After the birth of my daughter, it became clear that these experiences could come together in a beautiful potion to empower, strengthen, and educate expecting women.

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In 2012, my husband, daughter and I moved back home to central Iowa (Ankeny), and shortly after I was introduced to Sandi Hoover, owner of The Family Tree (Des Moines) and founder of Roots Prenatal YogaTM. I took her Roots Prenatal Yoga Certification course (80 hours) in February 2013 and have been passionately sharing prenatal yoga with expecting women since.

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In January 2016, I began teaching my prenatal yoga classes in Ankeny! In my classes, I empower women to tune into their bodies, breath, and babies. Each class begins with time to chat with the other expecting women in class about a topic related to pregnancy, birth, or motherhood. We move through gentle yoga poses and end class with a few minutes of relaxation. EVERY (pregnant) BODY can benefit from participating in my prenatal yoga classes.

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I hear from many of the women in my classes after their babies are born. They thank me for the classes and say they felt more prepared physically and mentally for labor/birth. My Ankeny classes are held on Sunday evenings from 6:30 – 7:45 PM. Each 6-week series is $100 (less than $17/class)! To inquire or sign-up for the series that begins on September 11, 2016, please e-mail me at doulamel13@gmail.com.

Check Melissa’s website for current classes, dates and times here!

Follow her on Facebook here!

About the Author

Head shot 2Melissa Schnurr, PhD, CD(DONA):

Melissa is the mother of two daughters born in October 2010 and November 2014, an early childhood consultant for the State of Iowa, DONA certified birth doula, and a prenatal yoga certified instructor. Also the owner of Empowered Pregnancy & Birth LLC, Melissa has a passion for supporting women and their families during pregnancy and birth.