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.

BridgetheGap (3)

Bridge the Gap with Fortify Your Life

In December I traveled to New Orleans for Shiftcon, an eco-wellness influencer conference. Not only did I meet other wonderful bloggers and influencers, came home with lots of swag, I also learned a TON!

One person that left a lasting impression on me was Dr. Tieraona Low Dog M.D. I had the pleasure to listen to her talk about how our society is dangerously lacking in certain vitamins and nutrients. It was interesting and eye-opening to say the least. I never realized how many factors can affect what vitamins and nutrients our bodies are obtaining.

Some examples:

  • non-GMO and/or organic cereals are not fortified. If your diet consists of these items, you are not receiving the correct amounts of Vitamins B1, B2, B3. B5, B9, B12, C, iron and calcium!
  • Iron is the most common nutrient deficiency in the world.
  • If you are taking prescription medications, these medications can deplete certain vitamins and nutrients you eat daily. If you eat extremely healthy, you still may not getting the correct amounts of vitamins and nutrients due to the medications.
  • You may be eating healthy, but eating foods such as fruits and vegetables that have traveled long distances to get to your plate causes them to lose some of their most important benefits.

These were just a few examples of the many that can determine what your body is getting on a daily basis.

A common misconception, by a lot of Americans, is to take a bunch of vitamins and supplements, eat what they want and they will be okay. It is important to remember that vitamins and supplements are there to bridge the gap of the healthy lifestyle you should already be living. This means eating the correct amounts of fruits, vegetables, proteins, etc. every day. If you live a healthy lifestyle and fill in the gaps with the correct and trusted vitamins and supplements, you will feel amazing.

When I left Shiftcon I knew that I wanted to do my research and figure out what I needed to feel my best and to allow my body to function at its best. I started by reading Dr. Low Dog’s book, Fortify Your Life. I cannot recommend this book enough! You will learn  about why you need each vitamin and mineral, what it does, what population may be more depleted in it, and how much you should be getting each day.

This book is not going to tell you exactly what you need to take and when. Each person is different. Fortify Your Life is a book that guides you in becoming more educated and creating a plan that works for you. Dr. Low Dog will break down each vitamin, mineral, and common nutraceuticals. Within each breakdown she will share:

  • What it does
  • Food sources
  • Signs of deficiency
  • Risks of deficiency
  • Supplement considerations
  • Partner nutrients
  • Special populations

In the back of the book she also breaks down:

  • Supplements for common ailments such as ADHD, Celiac Disease, anxiety, depression, and more.
  • Common laboratory tests you should ask your doctor to run.
  • Popular prescription drug-nutrient depletion’s and interactions.

Fortify Your Life is a resource and tool for you to take responsibility of your health. It is a great way to start a conversation with your doctor!

After I read the book, I went ahead and kept a daily food journal for about a week. This helped me keep track of how much protein, Vitamin D, Vitamin C, iron, and so on that I was receiving from my diet. I could then conclude what I needed to improve on eating wise and what I needed to bridge the gap.

I then created a chart that listed all of the common vitamins and minerals Dr. Low Dog discussed in her book. I went through what her daily recommendations were for me personally. My dosages are completely different then a teenage boy, or a woman who has been through menopause, or a pregnant woman. It’s also important to remember, that whatever your dosages may be now, they may change as you grow older, begin taking a medication, become pregnant, etc. You will need to make adjustments as you grow, your habits change, and your life changes.

After I created my chart with what my personal dosages were, I found a trustworthy multi-vitamin that hit the majority of the recommended dosages for myself. I highly recommend, Megafood. Dr. Low Dog has partnered with Megafood to create a line of gender specific multivitamins, so you know you are receiving the best. I compared the label on the vitamins to my chart and discovered that the Multi for Women was the perfect fit for me. I then knew there was a shortage in my Vitamin B’s and Vitamin D, so decided to also supplement with Balanced B Complex and Vitamin D3. I am also taking a daily probiotic and a few days a week add Daily Maca Plus for Women to my coffee.

Since I have added these vitamins and supplements to bridge the gap in my already healthy lifestyle, I have felt great! I have also learned about what each vitamin and mineral does. If I am feeling sluggish in the afternoon I know I may need to boost my Vitamin B a little bit, instead of turning to some sort of unhealthy energy drink.

This is a great process to get to know YOUR body.

  1. Buy the book Fortify Your Life 
  2. Create your chart. Lucky you, I am offering an already created chart for you to fill in below!
  3. Research which vitamins and supplements will best fit you. I recommend starting with Megafood!
  4. Feel better and take control of your health!

Download your FREE chart here!

 

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.

 

PPMeTime

7 Ways to Create “Me” Time Postpartum

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links!

After having a child, it can be harder to create alone time, or what some like to call “me” time. During your postpartum period it can be even more crucial as you are adjusting to life with a newborn, or with more children. Your “me” time allows you to relax, re-set and refocus on you. When you are finished with your “me” time, you can return to your children and family refreshed and happier.

Creating “me” time can be as simple as 10 minutes to 1 hour a day or it could be a few hours one afternoon, once a week. Allowing yourself time to re-set is important for your health, just as exercising and eating healthy is. If you are a planner and have a family calendar, carve these days out in your schedule. If it’s on the schedule then you and your significant other will be prepared and it is more likely to happen.

Are you not sure what to do during your “me” time? Check out this great list I put together!

Take a Hot bath, Epsom Salts & Lavender Essential Oils. This is my favorite and the most simplest way to have some alone time. Grab your favorite book and some hot tea. Of course, if you are newly postpartum you may need to wait a few weeks until your doctor approves you to bathe. Epsom salts are a great way to relax your tense muscles from carrying and nursing your baby. Add a few drops of Lavender Essential Oil to your bath. Lavender Essential Oil can help relieve nervous tension, enhance blood circulation and much more. Plus, it just smells amazing!

Spend an afternoon at a local coffee shop or book store. Grab your favorite book, a journal, or go look for a great book to read while taking your hot bath. Every new parent needs coffee right? Treat yourself and get a fancy, specialty drink and relax. Read your book or people watch. Both can be equally entertaining 🙂 Check out some great, local coffee shops here!

Spa Day! What woman doesn’t love a spa day? It doesn’t need to be an entire day, but you can go get a manicure and pedicure or an hour long massage. If someone is wanting to get you something postpartum, ask for a gift certificate! You just gave birth and are juggling life as a mom, you deserve some pampering. Do you live in Central Iowa? Check out some great spas in the area here.

Sign-up for a yoga class. Yoga is a great way to relax and to get your body moving. It does not have to be a sweaty workout, but it can be an opportunity for you to become re-centered. Yoga is a great time to meditate too! I know whenever I leave a yoga class, I am refreshed and ready for the world. If you live in the Des Moines area I highly recommend checking out The Family Tree Yoga. They offer several great classes and workshops for pregnancy, postpartum and more. They also offer massage too! 🙂 Check out Power Life Yoga, also! They offer several locations in the Des Moines area.

Take a walk. Fresh air is truly some of the best medicine. After being cooped up in the house all day with your newborn, getting outside and taking in the scenery can be a great way to unwind. The Des Moines area is truly blessed with tons of bike trails. One of my favorite places to walk and explore is the PappaJohn Sculpture Park located right by Central Library and Ritual Cafe. You can also walk along the Des Moines River on the Principal Riverwalk. Too chilly out? Check out Botanical Blues at the Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden.

Take a class. After becoming a parent, you easily can forget to do things you love to do! Find something you want to learn or something you have always loved, and take a class. Are you artistic? Paint some pottery or canvas at Glazed Expressions! There are several places to do canvas art in the area. You can also take a cooking class! The Des Moines Public Library offers an Adult Coloring Time weekly.

Get adjusted! This seems simple and actually does not take much time at all, but can easily be added to your afternoon break before you head to the coffee shop or book store. After giving birth, whether it be vaginally or via c-section, your pelvis and entire body experiences changes. Not only from child birth, but from nursing positions, carrying your newborn, and carrying that hefty car seat! Getting adjusted regulary by a chiropractor you trust and is experienced with prenatal and postnatal adjustment is highly recommended! Check out Dr. Jennifer Thompson at Balance Chiropractic & Wellness.

Photo Credits: PappaJohn Sculpture Park, Smokey Row Coffee Shop
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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.

Pregnancy & Exercise

Pregnancy & Exercise

When you become pregnant one big question comes across your mind “Can I exercise?” In most cases, the answer is, yes!

In the past, it used to be common for practitioners to tell newly pregnant women, they were not allowed to exercise. Quickly, it was discovered that there were a lot more benefits to exercising, compared to not exercising. Exercising and being active during pregnancy benefits not only mom, but baby also!

I have done some looking and there are several things to keep in mind while exercising and being active during pregnancy. I have broken it down for everyone.

Pregnancy & Exercise

Warm Up

Warming up before exercising is always important, but even more critical when pregnant. Just like before pregnancy, if you do not warm up, you may experience aches and pains after workout. Pregnant women, will definitely experience these aches and pains if they do not warm up. When pregnant, your body is growing and changing. It is important to ease into activity and exercise.

Heart Rate

Heart rate is a common thing that comes up when discussing exercise during pregnancy. Women will hear different target heart rates from different sources, but a common heart rate that is most commonly given is 140. It is not recommended to get your heart rate over 140. During the first trimester, most women are usually tired and do not have much energy; so staying at this heart rate is easy. Some women have no change in energy and can exert themselves way more. It is important for you to discuss this with your provider and come up with a target heart rate that makes everyone feel comfortable.

Mood Swings

When you become pregnant, hormones are going haywire! One moment you may be sad and depressed, nauseous, stressed, and so on. Exercising brings out those good and happy endorphins! It may hard to get moving but, getting outside and being active can greatly improve a your mood.

Exercises to Avoid

Deciding what exercises to avoid will vary between each person. If you are very active and work out routinely, there will be less to avoid. Most commonly, you can continue to do what you have been doing. There are women who still run marathons, lift heavy weights and more while pregnant. The most important thing is for you to listen to your body. If you feel something is too much, hurts, or just feels “off” you need to cut back. There are certain activities and exercises that should be avoided while pregnant such as, scuba diving, horseback riding, mountain biking, skiing or any contact sport that may cause trauma to the abdomen.

Eating

Yes, eating fits into exercising while pregnant. If you are regularly exercising while pregnant, you are burning calories. It is very important for you to make up for those calories by eating healthy, lots of fruits and veggies, and high protein foods. Even though you may think you do not need those extra calories, your baby does!

WATER, WATER, WATER

Water is extremely, extremely important while pregnant. Not only is it important if you are lying around all day, it is even more important if you are active and exercising. Staying hydrated keeps the body temperature low while exercising, reduces aches and pains, and will help prevent contractions.

Look into prenatal exercise classes

Although, you are usually able to continue your normal exercise routine, it may be beneficial for you to research and find a prenatal exercise class. This may also be beneficial for women who have not been exercising prior to pregnancy, but want to stay active. Prenatal exercise classes are modified for pregnancy and the instructors have a special certification to teach prenatal classes. The fitness instructors are knowledgeable of the woman’s pregnant anatomy and know the dos and don’ts. It is also a great place to meet other pregnant mama’s and connect!

When to slow down

In the first trimester you may be able to workout like you did before pregnancy. As pregnancy continues, your body changes, and your baby grows; changes may need to be made. Listen to your body for changes such as these:

  1. Fatigue – Feeling a little fatigue after exercising is okay, but if you cannot recover like before, it may mean to start scaling a bit back.
  2. Joint or muscle pain – Joint and muscle pain comes with the “being pregnant” package, but it may increase even more if you are exercising too much. Any sharp pains, or aches, that is not going away after a day or so, after working out, cut back.

Reasons to STOP exercising

The number one reason to stop exercising would be if your practitioner has told you to do so, but there are also some other factors to look for.

  1. If you have been diagnosed with preeclampsia or any other form of pregnancy-related high blood pressure.
  2. Cervical problems
  3. Vaginal bleeding
  4. Lots of swelling

If any of these symptoms arise or anything else that may be abnormal, stop exercising, and let your practitioner know immediately.

Exercising while pregnant is not only great for you, but also baby. It boosts your energy and mood levels, helps you sleep better, prevents excess weight gain, and may help ease pain when you go into labor. It is important for to have an open communication with your provider about what your exercise routine is and if any changes are happening.

Disclaimer: All information in this post are thoughts, opinions and research I have personally done. Please talk to your provider before engaging in any activity.  

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Hike it Baby: One Year Anniversary!

Have you heard about Hike it Baby? For those of you who haven’t, we are an organization dedicated to developing communities that get families outside with children from birth to school age. There are branches in cities all over the world! Iowa has four branches: Des Moines, Iowa City, Cedar Rapids, and Davenport. An Ames branch will be starting soon, too!

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Come celebrate Des Moines’ one year anniversary with us! We went from an inspiration to an entire branch with over 800 Facebook members and hundreds of hikes on the calendar in a year! We have some fun things planned, including an amazing giveaway filled with donations from local businesses.

When: Sunday, June 5th at 2:30pm at the Ewing Park Children’s Forest and Nature Trail. We will meet at the Ashley Okland Star Playground and hike the Nature Trail at 3pm then have time to play on this AMAZING playground. Bring your own chairs, a picnic basket, and join us!

More information can be found on our Facebook page under Events, and here: https://hikeitbaby.com/hike/hike-it-baby-des-moines-1-year-anniversary-hike-and-event/ 

Check out more information about Katy Severe, leader of Des Moines’ local chapter here!

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Spring Clean Your Body: Gentle Ways to Detoxify this Spring

The snow is gone, the grass is green, and we are spending our weekends doing Spring clean up in our homes and yards. The leaves get raked, the storm windows come out and screens go in. Maybe the house gets a fresh coat of paint, and all the stuff (junk) we accumulated over the winter gets thrown out or organized. What we are missing in our “Spring cleaning” routine, though, is Spring cleaning our bodies.

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Spring is the perfect time to add more cleansing or detoxifying regimens to your self-care routine. In Chinese Medicine theory, we say the season associated with the liver is Spring, and the liver is the most important organ of detoxification. The liver not only filters and cleans the blood, but also removes toxins we are exposed to from our food, environment and stress.

Signs your liver may need some help detoxifying include:

  • fatigue
  • headaches
  • brain fog
  • PMS
  • menstrual cramps digestive imbalance seasonal allergies
  • irritability
  • poor sleep

While the quickest way to more efficient bodily detoxification would be an assisted detox with a knowledgeable health provider, there are ways to improve elimination of toxins each day. Here are a few to get you started.

1) Warm lemon water or just more water!

An oldie, but a goodie. Drinking warm water upon waking aids digestive function and rehydrates the body. If you aren’t pooping, you aren’t eliminating toxins, period. The lemon juice stimulates bile production which helps to aid the function of the liver and lymph system. Also, if you find the only water you drink during the day is from brushing your teeth, this a huge problem. Water aids toxin removal through urination and defecation. Drink more water!

2) Breathing techniques

A large portion (around 70%) of the body’s toxins are removed through the breath. If we aren’t breathing correctly, we aren’t detoxifying. Taking a few moments each day to pause and be more in tune with our breath does great things, not only for detoxification, but also for lowering the body’s response to stress. Focusing on breathing from your belly is a great place to start.

I also love the 4-7-8 breathing exercise, and teach it to my patients on a regularly. Learn how to do it here:

3) Foods that aid liver detoxification

Adding foods to your diet that naturally aid the liver’s detoxification process is another easy way to “spring clean”.
These foods include:

  • carrots
  • broccoli spinach avocado apples asparagus oats
  • brazil nuts
  • eggs (pasture raised)
  • cilantro
  • watercress

4) Sweat!

The skin is the largest organ of detoxification. Our pores help remove waste via sweat. Try and break a sweat each day. If you are having a hard time fitting in exercise, try some movement that can include your kids, like pushing the stroller up hills or playing a game of tag. Make it fun!

This Spring, don’t just clean your home and yard, clean your body too! My challenge for you is to include at least two of the above detoxing aids to your routine each day.

Spring cleaning isn’t just for your home anymore!

About the Author

Stephanie BrauView More: http://alycarroll.pass.us/stephanienwarth is a board-certified Licensed Acupuncturist with a special focus in womenʼs health, fertility and nutritio
n. Stephanieeducates her patients about the importance of treating the underlying cause of a health condition and encourages them to take an active role in their health.

Stephanie serves patients at Des Moines Acupuncture Clinic in Des Moines.

Des Moines Acupuncture Clinic

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Curvy Yoga DSM: Yoga For Every Body!

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I have practiced it on and off since I was 13. Growing up in small town Iowa, I didn’t have exposure to a yoga studio or organized classes. All I had was videos, books, and the teachers my high school brought in from time to time. I loved yoga right away. When I decided to check out a local Des Moines studio I thought I would waltz in there and fit right in. I was wrong.

Everything about the studio was beautiful – the people, the clothes, the yoga mats, even the floors. The whole place was very intimidating all by itself (also very intimidating when there are beautiful yoga bodies all around you). I suddenly became very aware of how big my body was. No one said anything. No one looked at me funny. But I didn’t notice that. To me, everyone’s eyes were all on me and my (probably see-through) yoga pants.

Despite all that I was hooked right away. I was exhausted and sweaty but I felt great. The following day I ached in places I didn’t even know existed. After my first week I still didn’t know what a chaturanga was or how to properly do one (still a matter of contention two years later) but I did know that I was going to come back.

Yoga has completely changed the way I see myself inside and out. It has reminded me that I am strong, beautiful, and capable. Being skinny isn’t going to make me a better person. It’s not going to make me happier. My self worth is not determined by the size of my jeans.

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It’s easy to think that yoga isn’t for you. I’m here to tell you that it is. You don’t have to be flexible. You don’t have to wear special clothes. You don’t have to look a certain way. All you have to do is show up. Really, truly, that’s it. Ignore the beautiful Instagram pictures on beaches. Ignore the perfect bodies in tight clothing. Ignore the commentary in your mind.

Join me on Tuesdays at the South Suburban YMCA at 4:45 or on Thursdays at 4020 70th Street in Urbandale. Tuesday classes are free with a YMCA membership and Thursday classes are $15 each, but your first two classes are free. Punch cards are available for purchase and offer discounts by buying multiple classes at a time. My classes are geared towards beginners and will help you understand some basic yoga poses, connect you with your breath and body, and help build confidence in yourself and your yoga practice. There is no need to sign up ahead of time. Just show up!

I’m a Yoga Alliance certified yoga teacher and am working towards becoming Iowa’s first Curvy Yoga Certified yoga teacher. If you have questions, want to schedule a private session, or just want to chat yoga, email me at curvyyogadsm@gmail.com.

Written by Jamie Elliott

january 1016

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5 Reasons You Should Try Acupuncture

Five Reasons You Should Try Acupuncture

When I get asked what my career is and I reply that I’m a Licensed Acupuncturist and Chinese Medicine practitioner a common response is “Cool! Tell me more.”. I love these moments as it’s an opportunity for me to educate an individual about the amazing benefits of acupuncture.

5 Reasons You Should Try Acupuncture

Acupuncture has been performed for thousands of years, but has only gained popularity in the United States since the 1980s. The fact that as the years go by, the number of people using this form of holistic medicine is growing exponentially is an indication of it’s effectiveness and depth of health conditions it can treat. As acupuncture has become more mainstream, the amount of research studies and clinical trials have increased only further proving it’s efficacy.

There are a number of amazing benefits to regular acupuncture care. The following explains just some of the reasons why you should add it to your health regime:

1) It treats the root cause of your symptoms

We take an over-the-counter pain reliever or NSAID for our muscle tension and headaches, an anti-histamine for our allergies, birth-control pills for our menstrual cramps and an anti-diarrheal for our IBS. These medications, though, are masking your symptoms and not treating the root cause of why you have the symptom in the first place. They may be a temporary relief, which at times is necessary, but when a condition becomes chronic, the issue lies in the person’s body constitution. That’s where acupuncture and Chinese Medicine come in. It treats each individual uniquely, based on what their body needs and what traditional diagnostics are showing. By treating the root cause of a health condition, the individual’s health stabilizes and their body becomes more in balance.

2) It reduces the body’s stress response

Your stressors aren’t going to disappear with acupuncture, unfortunately, but your body’s response to potential stress will be reduced. Acupuncture helps to relax the sympathetic nervous system, which kicks in to high gear when we are in “fight or flight” mode. We need our fight or flight response when we are in danger, but do we need it sitting in traffic or at our job each day? Daily activities will be more enjoyable when we are in a more relaxed, coherent state.

3) It can balance your hormones

Monthly irritability, mood swings, food cravings, cramps, sound familiar? These are all signs of hormone imbalance, all of which acupuncture can help to correct. By increasing circulation to the ovaries, uterus, hypothalamus and pituitary glands, acupuncture can treat the underlying cause of these unenjoyable symptoms. It is also effective at helping the liver remove toxic estrogens from your body, a common cause of hormone imbalance.

4) Better sleep

When our sympathetic nervous systems don’t feel the need to release cortisol all night long, the body can more easily go in to “rest and digest” mode and sleep soundly through the night. Our bodies heal and repair when we sleep. If we don’t sleep, we don’t heal, period.

5) Improved digestive function

In my opinion, Chinese medicine is one of the best forms of therapy for digestive imbalance. If digestion is not functioning properly, other body systems will be affected. By bringing circulation of fresh oxygen, nutrients and hormones to the digestive tract, the system can rebuild and begin to digest our food and fluids efficiently. Signs of an out-of-balance digestive system include constipation, diarrhea, bloating, gas, upset stomach, heartburn, immune system weakness, such as seasonal allergies, and much more. When the digestive system is working properly, food and fluids are turned in to blood and energy which result in more energy and a stronger immune system.

If you are experiencing any of the unfortunate symptoms listed above, consider treatment of the underlying cause of your health concern. By tailoring acupuncture treatments to your needs, the body is the ability to heal and flourish.

About the Author

View More: http://alycarroll.pass.us/stephanieStephanie Braunwarth is a board-certified Licensed Acupuncturist with a special focus in womenʼs health, fertility and nutrition. Stephanieeducates her patients about the importance of treating the underlying cause of a health condition and encourages them to take an active role in their health.

Stephanie serves patients at Des Moines Acupuncture Clinic in Des Moines.

Des Moines Acupuncture Clinic