So the Christmas season is in full swing and I’m loving every minute of it! Something about this time of year that makes me reflect on the last year. From highs to lows and everything in between. This season always reminds me of what’s most important and how truly grateful I am for my health. I truly believe one of the best gifts you can give your family and friends is the gift of health. Think about it, you could have all the money in the world but if you don’t have your health, what does it matter? You can’t enjoy any of it.
This season I want to encourage you to give the gift of knowledge. I love the verse in the Bible that says, “My people perish for lack of knowledge.” It really is true. I believe most people truly want to do good, but just don’t know where to start or what to do. Arming people with knowledge, gives them the power to create change in their lives and generations to come. Just think what would happen if you started to change the way you eat? Trust me when I say people would take notice and everyone would be affected positively. What if you decided to stop using the chemical laden products you currently use and instead started swapping them out for safer, cleaner options?
“My people perish for lack of knowledge.”-Bible
You see it’s not just about you, it’s so much bigger than that. It’s about bringing change to our society as a whole. This is what I dream about! Change doesn’t happen overnight though, it happens with one person standing up for something better. Change starts with you.
I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase, “Readers are leaders.” As corny as it may sound, I fully believe this is true. Why can’t we be the ones leading our families and communities towards a better future? One of the easiest ways to do this is by giving a book to read. Sometimes it’s hard to share with friends or family about health, but giving a book to someone isn’t. It’s the easiest way to not say anything, while actually saying a lot. Have a book say it for you! As I’ve said knowledge is power, and all people need sometimes is just a little spark to set a fire ablaze within them.
“Readers are leaders.”
I wanted to compile a list of books that I’ve read that have helped me throughout my health journey. I also had Dr. Matt share some of his top picks too. I have some cookbooks I really like, some green beauty books and some health books in general. Buy them as a gift, buy them for yourself, whatever you decide I believe reading always makes us better.
Also, a great tip I’ve picked up to increase my reading capacity is to listen to books on audio. Especially as a mom this has been huge. Whether I’m driving in the car, making dinner, cleaning or just nursing my daughter(hello getting real), I just push play. Instead of just letting time pass, I’m investing in myself and learning.
Tips on Audio books:
Get Audible by Amazon– This has changed my life! You pay a monthly membership fee of $14.95 and you get 1 book with that membership free each month. Then after that you get 30% off any other book. Download the app on your phone/Ipad and then you can listen whenever you want. The books stay on your account so you can listen to them again if you want. You can roll over up to 6 credits. I love it!
Rent From Your Local Library- Get a library card if you don’t already have one and check out audio books for free(and of course regular print copies)! Even if they don’t have the title you might want chances are if you request it they’ll get it in for you. No excuses that you can’t afford books because it’s absolutely free. Take advantage of this!
Split Audio Books with Friends or Family-Audio books tend to be more expensive then just a book, but if you split it 3 or 4 ways it ends up being the same price if not cheaper than a printed book. Everyone benefits but it doesn’t break the bank.
My Top Book Picks-
- No More Dirty Looks(Green Beauty)-This book started it all for me as far as switching to green beauty, and I will forever be grateful for the way it completely changed my life! It’s full of information on why makeup, skincare, hair products, nail products are all toxic and why. They also give alternatives and ingredients to avoid. A great book for someone starting their journey into green beauty.
- Skin Cleanse(Green Beauty)- This is a great integrative approach to achieving clear skin. It doesn’t just address your skin topically but your whole person. It really helps to pin point what may be causing your skin flare ups. She takes on a less is more approach and some DIY recipes in the book.
- The Clear Skin Diet(Green Beauty/Health)- This book completely changed my thinking on skincare. I read it six years ago and I still go back to it time and time again. It is full of so many nuggets. It really sets the stage and shows how our skin is affected by diet and lifestyle. From the hard facts about the correlation to dairy and acne, how we need omega -3 fatty acids to why the Japanese diet is so good for our skin. A must read for anyone who wants to achieve clear skin without reaching for some medication.
- Taking Charge of Your Fertility(Women’s Health)- This book has been such a resource for me throughout having my two girls. Before I even got pregnant this book helped me. I recommend any women read this, especially if you’re wanting to have children in the future. I’ve found very few people actually understand their cycle and this lays it all out on reproductive health, pregnancy and natural birth control.
- Beautiful Babies(Women & Baby Health)- I remember reading this book when I was pregnant with my first daughter and it really shook me. It’s such a good resource for fertility, pregnancy, breast-feeding and baby’s first foods. You will walk away feeling armed to give your body and your baby the best care and nutrients.
- Nourishing Traditions Book of Baby and Child Care(Women & Baby Health)- This book is jam packed with some serious wisdom for the holistic mama. From breastfeeding, vaccines, child development and what nutrients are essential for baby.
- Healing Your Body Naturally After Childbirth(Women’s Health)- This book really helped me take care of my body after baby. So often you have a baby and then all your energy goes into caring for the baby and we forget about the mother. The book does a great job of explaining what is happening in the body, why and what to do to help it through each phase. A great resource for any new mom!
- Eat This and Live(Clean Eating)- This book changed my thinking on clean eating. It is perfect for anyone starting their clean eating journey. It lays out what you should eat, why, how to prepare it the best, what nutrients are essential for optimal health and so much more. Plus, it shares why you want to avoid the Standard American Diet. It even has a lot of pictures-making it easier to read for those just starting out on their health journey.
- Dream It Pin It Live It(Dreams & Goals for your Life)- This book really challenged me to look at my life and ask what I want out of it. It made me realize how my dreams are possible and how to see them played out. I recommend this for anyone who is serious about wanting to see positive change in their life and doesn’t want to be in the same place next year.
- The Magnolia Story-(Biography)-Call me predictable but I’m pretty sure anyone should read Chip and Johanna’s story from the popular HGTV story Fixer Upper. I think sometimes people have the illusion that anyone successful doesn’t go through any hardships. Their story proves this theory wrong and how success in life takes dedication and hard work.
- Fed & Fit Cookbook(Clean Eating)- This cookbook has been such a great resource for me in the kitchen. Cassey really lays out not only amazing paleo friendly recipes in the book but also some health principles that are life changing. The food is delicious and her story inspiring.
- Lexi’s Clean Kitchen Cookbook(Clean Eating)- This cookbook has quickly become a favorite. If someone you know thinks “healthy” food can’t taste good then this is the cookbook for them. Lexi really makes eating clean fun and creates all your standby comfort foods but with a healthy twist. I’m always amazed at the flavors that come out of her recipes.
Dr. Matt’s Top Book Picks-
See any faves here? What are you currently reading and what are some of your favorite books?
So excited to finally be sharing Gracie’s home birth story with you guys. It’s been three weeks since the little nugget came into the world. She is just the sweetest babe. A good sleeper…so thankful! She’s still a newborn and wakes up in the middle of the night to nurse, but she’s such a better sleeper than Finley was. My whole experience the second time around has been totally different than with Finley. You can read my home birth experience with Finley here. I should have known the birth was going to be different as well.
Gracie was due September 3rd but she came August 31st. Finley was 10 days late! So to say I was shocked she was early is an understatement. I remember thinking I had at least a good week left before she came…haha so not the case! I woke up Tuesday morning August 30th around 3ish am. What woke me up? My first contractions. I thought maybe they were just braxton hicks. But they didn’t go away. I tossed and turned until around 7 am and then got up to shower. My husband came up and said what I had planned for the day, I said casually, “Well I think I’m going to have a baby.” He laughed and said, “Are you serious?” I said, “Yep it’s looking like it.” The contractions were every 15 minutes. Nothing crazy, but I could definitely feel them. I called my mid-wife just to let her know the situation. She said it sounded like I was in the beginning stages of labor and to keep her posted. (pic. on the right was taken the day I had her)
My husband took Finley outside and I went into full on cleaning/organizing mode. If it needed to be washed, cleaned, etc, it was getting done. I kept experiencing the contractions as I cleaned. Sometimes I would have to stop and just breathe through it. My mom came in the afternoon. She always stays with me a week after giving birth(she’s a saint). She helped with Finley too. My sister in law also showed up. She was my doula basically for Finley, even though she isn’t a doula. She’s had three kids and two of them at home. To say she’s amazing is an understatement! I feel so at ease when she’s there helping me. (pic. below of my two loves a week after Gracie was born)
My contractions were kind of all over the place still by 5 pm. We were timing them and some were 5 minutes apart, some 10 minutes. There wasn’t any real consistency. I was getting annoyed that I wasn’t progressing faster. Most people will tell you that your second is a lot faster than your first. My first mid-wife even had said to call the minute I sneezed with the second because it was going to be fast. Finley’s birth was relatively fast for a first birth-around 9 hours from the start of my first contraction to birth. This time around it seemed to drag on. So I started walking up and down my stairs to get things moving. It seemed to help. The contractions started getting closer together. Still not super consistent though. Some were further apart, other’s closer together. I called my mid-wife again and she said it was up to me if she came. I didn’t feel like she should come yet, I mean what was she going to do but sit around. I started to bounce on the exercise ball and the contractions seemed to pick up. I had called my midwife around 7 and it seemed my contractions started to pick up around 9. I called her and told her to come. She showed up around 9:45 pm. I was definitely having intense contractions, but when she checked me I was only dilated to a 5. I was so frustrated! I was thinking I would have a baby already, but still wasn’t close. Finally, things started to pick up after that, and my contractions were getting longer and closer together. I laid down once on my side but felt that slowed down the progression, so I went and sat on the toilet and that really took things to the next level. It got pretty intense in the bathroom and I knew I was getting closer. This whole time my sister in law is helping to coach me and push on my back where I was having back pain.
My midwife suggested I move back in my living room, so she could check and see how far along I was. But it didn’t happen. I moved to the living room and right as I got there I had another intense contraction. I just fell to my knees and had my hands and elbows on the couch. I told her I needed to push. It was so intense! More intense than with Finley I felt, which is odd because Finley weighed 9.05 lbs. and Gracie was 7lbs. 12 oz. However, with Finley, I never felt the urge to push like I did with Gracie. It was like my body couldn’t not push her out. So I pushed and they said they could see her head. I pushed again and her head came out. I pushed two more times and her body came out-relief! The most amazing feeling, it’s hard to describe. As I mentioned she was 7 lbs. 12 oz. and 19 inches long. She was born at 1:21 am. I climbed on my couch and held her, cord still pulsing. I had witnessed a miracle again. She pooped on me when I was holding her. I don’t know it could have been my poop too, haha, there’s all sorts of stuff coming out of you when you give birth! Ten minutes later I pushed out the placenta. So I ended up giving birth on my knees this time around. With Finley I was laying down. Can I be honest though? Laying down is one of the worst positions as far as when you’re having contractions. I much prefer to be on my hands and knees. (pic. above taken right after Gracie was born)
This time it was harder for me mentally, just because it ended up being a lot longer than I expected. Although the contractions weren’t super intense until later in the day, it just seemed to drag on, compared to Finley’s birth. My water also didn’t break until Gracie came out, whereas with Finley it broke before I even had contractions. For me, giving birth at home is so convenient and comfortable. I love being in my environment, not having to go anywhere before or after. I take a shower in my shower after the birth and can climb in my bed. My biggest piece of advice for anyone thinking about having a home birth is to not have preconceived expectations. Things always change, and it helps to just keep an open mind. In the end, the goal is a happy and healthy baby! (pic. above taken a week after Gracie was born)
Have you given birth at home? How was your experience?
If you haven’t heard I’m prego!! Ok, you probably have. I’ve been asked about so many different things since becoming pregnant. Being pregnant the second time around is a lot different too. I feel so much more relaxed. I thought I would just compile some tips I’ve learned from both pregnancies into a blog post. There’s so many things to consider after finding out your pregnant. It can seem a little daunting! Hopefully, these tips will help to make the transition a little easier.
Take a prenatal with folate and not folic acid. Folic acid is synthetic.
One of the first things pregnant women do after finding out they’re pregnant is supplementing with a prenatal. More often than not, it contains folic acid. Most doctors are still prescribing folic acid to newly pregnant moms. Unfortunately, it’s not even good for you! Here Dr. Ben Lynch gives great insight into why you should be taking folate instead of folic acid.
Get at least 80-100 grams of protein a day.
I remember thinking this seemed crazy with my first pregnancy! However, your baby is growing so rapidly and needing the extra protein for fetal development. Plus, for me the biggest thing I noticed when I ate enough protein, especially in my first pregnancy was increased energy and less nausea. It helped keep me full longer which kept my nausea at bay.
Ditch the soda and grab a sparkling water instead.
No one should be drinking soda or pop anyways, but especially during pregnancy. It might sound good with all the bubbles and fizz but grab a sparkling water instead. I like to add lemon or lime to my sparkling water and some stevia-instant fizzy drink minus the artificial sugar spike. This has helped me so much, especially during my first trimester when food doesn’t sound that appealing, and all you want is something to ease the nausea.
Avoid synthetic laundry detergents and snag a natural one instead.
Mainstream laundry detergents are full of toxic ingredients these days. The last thing you want to do is be soaking all the toxins up everyday through sleeping and your clothes. Plus, most of them are filled with synthetic fragrance that you or your baby should not be exposed to. Why not start prepping for when baby comes anyways? Who wants a newborn drenched in synthetic chemicals? Not my child! I really love these natural laundry detergents.
Avoid air fresheners and candles and stick with essential oils.
Air fresheners are a no, no all around. I can smell the artificial fragrance a mile away. No one should be breathing in these toxins, pregnant or not but especially being pregnant. Candles are so sketchy too. Some say soy but then have artificial fragrance, or are made with part soy, part paraffin(petroleum), my recommendation is just steer clear. It’s 9 months guys, not a life time. Stick with pure, organic essential oils instead. Get a diffuser and diffuse them in your home. I really like Mountain Rose Herbs Essential Oils-pure essential oils.
Craving Carbs? Opt for a grain free waffle.
You hear it so often when women are newly pregnant-all they want is carbs. Carbs aren’t bad in and of themselves but an overdoes of bad carbs are. Especially when it’s all in the form of white flour! I definitely craved carbs and still do with this pregnancy. I’ve found a couple tricks to help satisfy my cravings without putting me into a carb coma. One recipe I love is from Britney Angel and is her Paleo Waffles. They’re so tasty! I mean I would choose these over regular waffles any day. I’ll make a batch, freeze them and take them out, and toast them whenever I’m needing a pick me up.
Clean your home with natural cleaners.
It’s surprising to me how many people continue using their toxic chemical cleaning products when pregnant. The scent on them alone is enough to have me running the other way, not to mention having it come in contact with my skin. Word of advice? Just ditch all your conventional cleaners and grab some natural ones. You and your baby don’t need to have those toxins around. Instead, swap it out for my favorite cleaning products, like baking soda, vinegar and hydrogen peroxide. I have a full list here of all the products I use-the list is actually really short!
Get a natural stretch mark prevention cream.
Avoid all the mainstream stretch mark creams filled with synthetic chemicals and snag a natural one instead. Let’s be real, I rubbed stretch mark cream on my belly a couple times a day during my first pregnancy. Well, it paid off-no stretch marks! But I can’t imagine if I was using some synthetic filled one. Everything you put on your skin absorbs into your body-so you better be careful what your applying. I really love Buckaroo Organics Mother Hen Belly Butter. It goes on so smooth and keeps my skin hydrated. Plus, it smells so good and is all organic!
Take Magnesium for nausea.
Magnesium has long been known to help ease nausea in some women. I used a magnesium lotion by Ancient Minerals in my first pregnancy. A lot of women are already deficient in magnesium going into pregnancy so it’s great to supplement. Ask your doctor to see if it might be something to look into, especially if you struggle with nausea at all.
Avoid aerosols and stick with pump sprays.
Again, I probably sound like a broken record but aerosols are one of the worst things for you. So you should probably just steer clear of them in pregnancy. No one needs to be breathing in that toxic air. I love Josh Rosebrook’s Firm Hold Hair Spray. Best natural pump hair spray I’ve found!
Have a pillow underneath you while your laptop is on your lap.
We are already constantly exposed to radiation through so many things, why not lessen the blow a little. One tip my naturopath told me is to always have a pillow underneath my laptop when I have the laptop on my lap. That way the radiation isn’t directly on my stomach(aka baby). You could always get one of these lap desks too!
Well that sums up my some of my top tips for natural pregnancy. Do you have any tips that have helped you along the way? Leave me a comment!
Ok, so by now most of you have heard all about Johnson and Johnson’s ruling, and the negative impact of their products. After the ruling, I got an influx of e-mails asking for my favorite bath products for baby. I realized a lot of times people just have no idea what to buy! They know what they’re using is bad, but don’t have the time to research a better option. I totally get it being a mom myself. You want the very best for your child in every area, but at times it can be overwhelming! From the right foods to feed them, to what they sleep in, and what you bathe them in-it can become too much very quickly. Well, here’s one less area to think about. I’ve taken the guess work out of bath time!
Did you know, babies and kids are more susceptible to ingredients than adults? Their skin is more permeable, meaning the skin soaks up whatever is put on. So it better be pure! My daughter is my most precious gift, and I would never want to put something on her that might bring her harm. There are so many great baby products out there now. I’ve weeded through the top natural baby bath products, and come up with my favorites. These are tried and true and free from any harmful chemicals. From my fave bath oils, creams, and shampoos, your baby will not only smell great, but you’ll have a clear conscious you’re giving them the best.
Ohh, I had to put these two at the top because they’re so good! I get mine from Pemberleyjones.com. I love shopping there because not only does Pemberley carry some amazing products for the whole family, but she also has a little one herself. The bath wash is so yummy smelling. With notes of lavender and sweet orange, it will put a smile on any kiddos face. It lathers up, but is still so moisturizing . The body oil is swoon worthy as well! I had never used a body oil on my daughter until now, and I have to say I’m addicted. It goes on so easily, and instantly soaks into her skin. The smell is so light with hints of rosemary and calendula. I love that all the ingredients are organic-something that makes this mama smile! These both have taken up permanent residence in our bath routine. You can also shop all of Meow Meow Tweet here! $20 & $25
I love Acure! Not only do they make great products but they’re affordable. Their foamer for babies comes in vanilla citrus and fragrance free. It foams as you pump it out just like the name suggests. They call it a 4-in-1 because not only is it a shampoo and body wash, but it also is a bubble bath and hand wash. Can’t beat that! The vanilla citrus scent isn’t overwhelming. I was impressed with the amount of product you get for the price. For 16 oz. you can usually find this on sale for $7.99 at Whole Foods and online at Pharmaca.com. A steal for a natural baby wash! It’s lasted us forever. Plus, I love that you can find it at a lot of local health stores and of course Target. Makes switching to a cleaner product that much easier for moms. $9.99
This Etsy shop has the cutest products, and they’re made from some of the best ingredients. I also love how they’re handmade-can’t beat that! Their Baby Shampoo & Wash Calendula Oatmeal Soap Bar is one of a kind. I love that it comes in a soap bar, such a nice change of pace from most other baby washes out there. It smells so fresh and soothing. Made with the best natural and organic ingredients, my daughter’s skin feels so clean and soft after bath time. I love just dumping the bar into the water and rubbing it over her body or rubbing the soap bar on a wet washcloth. Either way, she gets squeaky clean. $12
If you’ve read my blog long enough you know I’m a fan of Kosmatology. Their products are made with the purest ingredients and perform. I really love their Free and Clear scent products for babies. Made with only a handful of ingredients these fragrance free products are perfect for sensitive baby skin. The body wash is moisturizing and cleansing at the same time. I also am a huge fan of their lotion bar! I can’t say enough about it. I love that it’s in bar form, no messes to clean up. It glides on just like a deodorant would. The consistency is between a thicker body butter and a lotion-perfect in my opinion. It melts right into Finley’s skin and leaves it silky smooth. If you have a little one who has sensitive skin, this would be perfect! They even have lotion bar minis-a great option for traveling or in the purse. $11.99 & $10.99
Dr. Bronner’s Baby soap was one of the first soaps I used on Finley. It’s easily accessible-you can find it at Target, any health store, and Whole Foods. It also is super economical! A win/win. Although Dr. Bronners carries a ton of scents I prefer the Baby Unscented because it has twice the olive oil as their other castile soaps and it’s unscented, which is great for sensitive baby skin. It gives a great clean feeling to the skin without feeling dry. I especially like snagging their travel sized bottles for travel-makes it so easy to bring the good stuff! $10.99
This Shampoo and Body Wash is one of Finley’s faves for the bubbles it produces. This isn’t your typical bubble bath, obviously it doesn’t have the chemicals, but it does give some fun bubbles for a few minutes. I squirt a little under the tub faucet as the waters running and instant bubble bath. You can get the fragrance free or calming calendula. This baby shampoo does the job and gives a fun addition to bath time. $6.50
This balm is the perfect antidote for red, inflamed bums. I love how it comes in a tube applicator-so easy to apply. It has relieved so many diaper rashes Finley has had. The balm is completely organic and full of soothing ingredients. I think you could have one of these in the diaper bag, at home, in the car-you know, everywhere! A must for any green mama! $10.95
This balm is great for on the go. It really melts right into Finley’s skin, leaving behind the smell of lavender and vanilla. It’s more of a barrier or shield than a greasy balm. It leaves her skin moisturized and for a while. I have this in my purse at all times. I’ve used it on my daughter’s diaper rashes, my hands and even this weird rash I had on my neck for a while, (don’t ask). The name really does describe it well, it does a little of everything. I’ve even used it on my lips. You all need one of these! Bonus, you can find this at Target. $14
I love using this cream on my daughter. It’s so moisturizing and it has such a lovely scent. I really do believe it calms her! The ingredients are so amazing. I also love that it comes in a glass jar, as opposed to plastic. The company is based out of Oregon and all their products are made in small batches. I like to think a little love goes into each batch. Oh and the smell is crazy awesome! It smells like an orange creamsicle with a little chamomile thrown in. A little goes a long way with this one. I put it on my daughter after her bath, right before bedtime. You can find this at Whole Foods as well as health stores and online. $12.99
This is my little miracle product…but for real. You guys have to go and check out their before and after pics on their website…amazing! I use this on any rash or skin irritation that my daughter has and literally the next day it won’t bother her and her rash is basically gone. It is pure, clean and unscented. I highly recommend it for baby acne too! I love the story behind the company. Emily is the name of a baby girl who had skin flare ups. Her dad, an acupuncturist and herbalist tried several different herbs and came up with an array of highly effective products. If your baby suffers from eczema, redness, diaper rash or just any skin flare up, this product is for you! My pediatrician is a naturopath and she sells it, but mostly you are going to have to order it online. $13.99
This is a great diaper rash cream as well. It works different than Emily’s Skin Soother. This forms more of a protective barrier and is white versus clear. Sometimes I find this is necessary if my daughter is going for long car rides or for at night when I want to protect her bum from moisture. Pure/organic ingredients and easy to find! You can get it at Target, Whole Foods and online. It runs for $9.95.
That’s a wrap! There’s something for everyone. I want to hear what you use on your babe! Leave me a comment. XO
I was so excited when Eco Piggy sent me some natural kid’s products to review. Since having my daughter I’ve been even more conscious of everything around us. So many children’s products/toys are plastic and made with chemicals. Thankfully, this is not the case with Ecopiggy. Instead of plastic spoons they offer bamboo, instead of plastic sippy cups, they sale stainless steel ones. As you can imagine, I really love their whole philosophy! Isn’t their name so cute too?! They offer everything from stainless steel lunch boxes, fabric snack bags, to non-toxic/no smell kid nail polish. It’s a one stop shop for all things baby/kid. But the kicker is it’s all clean and natural! (more…)
Since becoming a mama a whole new world of products and gadgets has opened up to me. Trust me, if you haven’t had a kiddo yet, just wait. There is a lot of information out there on what’s great, but a lot of it isn’t “green.” I had to really find out what (more…)