14 Tips for a Natural Birth

The births of my three beautiful children were very different from the traditional American birth experiences that you see in the movies. For starters, as opposed to just the allowance of ice chips, I was permitted to eat food and drink any kind of beverage while I was in labor. In contrast to the traditional supine position on the hospital bed, I labored in any position that was most comfortable for me. My first two babies were born in a tub of water, no interventions were needed and I did not take any medication. My third baby was born while I was in a hands and knees position on the hospital bed.

For this particular post, I will not go into the research and the reasons why I believe that a natural birth is beneficial for babies. You might not want a natural birth, and that’s okay! For those that are interested, I hope that these 14 tips will empower you to have the birthing experience that you desire!

  1. Interview your provider. Try to find a compassionate provider that will help you have the birth that you desire.
  2. Educate yourself. Read birthing books by Ina May Gaskin and watch “The Business of Being Born.”
  3. Eat well. Follow your healthcare provider’s instructions about foods to eat and foods to avoid.
  4. Take a full, daily dose of supplements (prenatal multivitamin, DHA and probiotic). Ensure that your supplements are high-quality and do not contain GMOs. (See your healthcare provider for guidance.)
  5. Exercise. Research shows that exercise is great for mom and baby. Prenatal yoga was wonderful for my morning sickness. (See your healthcare provider for guidance.)
  6. Encourage your partner’s involvement. My husband attended Bradley classes with me and was ready and willing to make some tough decisions with me during the birth of our third child.
  7. Hire a doula. A doula can be a very helpful and calming person that can act as another advocate for you in the hospital.
  8. Take a local Bradley class. This 12-week class will prepare you very well for a natural birth. The class will teach you about the birthing process, nutrition, prenatal exercises, relaxation techniques, birthing techniques, postpartum information, etc. Most couples that take this class have natural births.
  9. Write a birth plan. With your partner, talk about what the perfect birth looks like to both of you. Write down your plan and discuss your plan with your provider.
  10. Labor at home for as long as you can. If possible, do not go to the hospital or birthing center until you and your provider agree that it is an optimal time to go. It is more comfortable to labor at home. If possible, opt for a home birth!
  11. Play some soothing music. In my third trimester, my husband uploaded some relaxing Hawaiian music into his phone and played it during birth.
  12. Practice and use relaxation techniques. During labor, it really helped me to close my eyes and visualize myself on the beach with my family.
  13. Count during contractions! The discomfort of a contraction peaks at approximately 30 seconds and lasts for approximately 60 seconds. When my contractions started to get stronger, I started to count the seconds. Every time I reached 30 seconds, I felt encouraged because I knew that the worst part of the contraction was likely over. This helped tremendously!
  14. Don’t expend unnecessary energy. When it is time to push the baby out, remember that your body automatically does some of the work on its own. Therefore, don’t think that you have to push so hard that your eyes pop out. When the time comes, follow your provider’s instruction.

No matter what happens during your birth experience, I hope that you will enjoy your new, precious baby blessing! What do you think of natural birthing?

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This post was originally published on September 24, 2018 and updated on June 30, 2019.

Be Your Own Lab Rat

Are you confused by all of the conflicting medical advice in the media? What about all of the different diets out there? The Natural Medicine versus Conventional Medicine camps? Here’s my advice.

Find a healthcare practitioner that you trust. I have an integrative nurse practitioner that addresses health from a holistic perspective. She is also familiar with natural and conventional treatments.

Do your own research. You have information at your fingertips everyday. With that said, try to avoid misinformation by looking for reputable sources.

If something isn’t working, try something new. Sometimes it takes a little trial and error to find what works for you. Remember that everybody’s body is different. What works for me might not work for you.

Be patient. Unfortunately, your health probably won’t change overnight. It might take awhile to see changes, especially if you are changing your diet or trying new health supplements.

Listen to your body. Remember—you are the only one that is living in your body (unless you have a little one growing inside of you). Sometimes you are the only one that will know when something is wrong or when something needs to change.

Don’t give up. If you are making even the smallest effort to improve your health, that is great! Just keep on going and give yourself some credit for your effort.

What steps are you taking to improve your health? If you like this blog, consider liking the Facebook page as well!

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Do You Want To Improve Your Health?

Do you feel overwhelmed by all the things you need to do to improve your health? Let me simplify it for you. Just consider these four things. Four is a small number, right?

  1. Detoxify. Detox your body, mind, relationships and house.
  2. Put good stuff in your body. Eat superfoods and supplements.
  3. Practice self-care. Set aside time for exercise, rest, and other activities that will lower your stress level.
  4. Foster good relationships. Spend time with people that feed your soul, and spend time in service to others.

Take one small step today. Find someone to keep you accountable and get going. You got this!

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Side Effects of Social Media

Are you depressed, anxious, or feeling isolated? Are you suffering from low self-esteem? Do you have trouble sleeping? Do you feel unproductive? Do you feel the need to check your social media feeds several times throughout the day? If you answered “Yes” to some of these questions, then you might be experiencing some side effects of social media use.

1. Poor Performance

Research shows that social media use worsens your ability to multi-task (truthfully, we are not very good at multi-tasking to begin with).

Possible Remedies:

Log off of social media whenever you are trying to get a task done quickly. You might want to refrain from social media use during working hours.

Create a vision board or set goals for the future. If you have concrete goals, you will be more productive and less inclined to use social media as frequently.

2. Insomnia

Any kind of light can alter the level of melatonin in your brain and interfere with the quality of your sleep. Because a lighted screen is required for social media, social media use at night may be an indirect cause of your insomnia.

Possible Remedy:

Turn off social media (and electronics) two hours before bedtime.

3. Loss of time

Does this sound like a familiar scenario? It’s 4:30 pm. In five minutes, I need to start making dinner, but I have to check my e-mail first. Oh, okay, I have 12 notifications. Cindy posted a new picture of her baby. Oh my! What a cutie! I forgot to send her a gift. Uh-oh, Carolyn changed her relationship status to single? I should call her to see if she is okay. Hmmm…Uncle Jarvis posted another political meme. That’s annoying. Oh man, what is the world coming to? Another school shooting? “Mama, I’m hungry!” Just a second…what in the world? It’s 6:30 pm already?!

Possible Remedies:

Set a time limit. Give yourself a limited amount of time to spend on social media each day. After you have met the time limit, close the app for the rest of the day.

Turn off social media notifications or remove social media apps from your phone. You will be less inclined to check your social media feeds throughout the day.

Only use social media when you need to. For example, only use social media for looking up someone’s contact information or for grabbing a good deal on a company page.

4. Strained Relationships

When you ask teenagers, ‘What’s the one thing you wish you could change in your relationship with your parents?’ The most common answer teenagers give to that question is, ‘I wish my parents weren’t on their devices so much and would actually listen to me.’

Andy Crouch, author of “The Tech-Wise Family”

Because I work from home and am a mother of three small children, I do not get out that much. So, whenever I am around someone that is constantly looking at the phone, I (like the teenagers in the above quote) become frustrated. Excessive social media use can affect marriages and other relationships as well.

Possible Remedies:

Eye contact. When someone is speaking to you, look up from your device and give them your attention.

Quality time should be quality time. When spending quality time with loved ones, do not log onto social media.

5. Anxiety, Depression and Low Self-Esteem

Research shows that people that spend more time on social media are more depressed and have lower self-esteem because they start to compare themselves to other “friends” on social media.

Possible Remedies:

Remember what’s real. Social media can fool you into thinking that all of your other digital “friends” are richer, better-looking, more exciting, more capable, more put together, etc. Don’t be fooled. Remember that most people only post their most exciting, polished, attractive selves on social media. Remember that scars, cellulite, emotional baggage, daily monotony, and extra padding are often omitted.

Focus on the good.

Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.

Philippians 4:8

Even if you do not believe in the Bible, this is good advice. Instead of wishing for more money, a thinner body, a more creative mind, or a more powerful job, be grateful for what you have. Focus on the good.

Unfollow people that are toxic to you. On Facebook, you can remove someone from your newsfeed without unfriending them (and they won’t even know about it). This might be a good idea if your Facebook friend is posting things that make you upset.

Before logging into social media accounts, do something else that you love to do. Go outside, exercise, plant some flowers in the backyard, call a friend, meetup with a friend for coffee, play some sports, crochet a blanket for a baby, read, fly a kite, get your nails done, write in a journal, send a letter by snail mail, teach your nephew how to shoot pool, play some music, or do a jigsaw puzzle. You could also pick up a new hobby.

Ask for help. I believe that everyone can benefit from professional counseling.

6. Addiction

Social media can cause your brain to crave more “likes”, “friends”, instant responses, and more excitement from social media.

Possible Remedies:

Take breaks from social media. Don’t go on any of your social media accounts for half a day, a day, a week, a month, or a year.

Accountability. Tell someone that you want to cut back on social media use and ask them to keep you accountable.

Delete your accounts. A few years ago, I didn’t need any social media accounts for work, so I deleted my accounts for a few years. If social media is affecting your health, this might be worth considering.

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Recommended Resource

Growing Up Social: Raising Relational Kids in a Screen-Driven World by Gary Chapman and Arlene Pellicane

References

Beres, Damon. 10 Weird Negative Effects of Social Media on Your Brain. Retrieved from https://www.rd.com/health/wellness/negative-effects-of-social-media/

Woods, H.C. & Scott, H. (2016). #Sleepyteens: Social media use in adolescence is associated with poor sleep quality, anxiety, depression and low self-esteem. Journal of Adolescence, 51, 41-49. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27294324

DIY: How To Get Rid of Ants Naturally

What do you get when you have small kids and a small amount of time to clean? Well, I’ll tell you what I get. I get ANTS! Luckily, I found a cheap, natural, effective way to get rid of ants!

Here’s what you need:

  • 1 cup of warm water
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons Borax
  • Cotton balls
  • Plastic bag

Please note that Borax is a natural powder. However, it is toxic if it is ingested by kids. Therefore, keep these “ant traps” away from small children and pets.

Here’s what you do:

  1. Cut the plastic bag into approximately seven small squares. The plastic acts as a disposable, waterproof plate for the cotton. In the past, I used a plastic container; later, I switched to a plastic bag so that the ants could get to the mixture faster. If you don’t want to use a plastic bag, you can use any small, shallow container or plate.
  2. Mix the water, sugar and Borax in a small bowl.
  3. Submerge a cotton ball in the mixture and place the cotton onto the plastic. Repeat until you have enough ant traps or until the mixture is gone.
  4. Place the plastic in the path of the ants. Keep the ant traps away from children and pets as the Borax is toxic if it is ingested.
  5. Throw the cotton and plastic away in approximately 48 hours.

These ant traps worked for odorous house ants (ants that like sugar). The ants will carry the mixture back to their home and the whole colony will die from the exposure to the Borax. Vinegar and essential oils are also great for repelling insects, but the ant traps and Borax were more effective because they wiped out the entire ant colony. This recipe came from DIY Natural. Mommypotamus also has some great ideas.

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