Sexy, Savvy, Natural Mama

a blog space for pregnant ladies, new moms, feminists, and interested souls

The Essential Pregnancy Library July 18, 2010

As a pregnant lady, you may be interested in getting some good books. I mean, the internet just doesn’t cut it. And as I said, a lot of those sites end up with a bunch of scary comments about miscarriages and illness. I have known of pregnant ladies who stay away from reading any books or sites, but as you might have guessed, I’m not really that type of person. In fact, I highly recommend reading a good selection of books — but you don’t need to go overboard.

You’ll need …

A great reference book. I totally do NOT recommend What to Expect When You’re Expecting. It’s not written by doctors, and it just kinda tells moms to avoid every little thing possible. It’s information light, and condescension heavy. Instead, I highly recommend the Mayo Clinic Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy. This book is a true treasure — if you only buy ONE book for your pregnancy, this is really the one you need. It is divided into three sections — pregnancy, childbirth, and your newborn. It’s written by health care professionals, and has a non-conversational this-is-what-you-need-to-know kind of tone. It provides information on every option for pregnancy and labor, has charts for when you should call the doctor according to the week of pregnancy, and it tells you what to do with your newborn once you get it home. It’s well organized, well laid out, has lots of great information, and it will help you chill out when you perceive a potential problem.

For natural birth planners, you’ll need: Your Best Birth by Ricki Lake and Abby Epstein. Ricki Lake — she’s at her least ridiculous in this book — and Abby Epstein are the minds behind the eye-opening documentary, The Business of Being Born (available on Netflix instant). (I recommend this for natural birthers as well.) This is the companion book, which details why pregnancy and childbirth are treated differently in the U.S. than in other countries, and it tells American mothers about all of their options when it comes to their own births. Ricki and Abby both tell their own birth stories in Your Best Birth, all of which are vastly different experiences (hospital birth with an epidural, home birth with no medication, and an emergency c-section). The best part about this book to me was the lists of questions to ask your doctor, midwife, hospital, and doula. They also go over how to write a birth plan and the things you may want to include. A quick, easy, fun and thoroughly informative read!

For the natural birth planner, you’ll also want to read Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth. I’ve already written a full review of this fabulous classic, and yeah, I still think it’s pretty much the best thing ever. Ina May Gaskin is a total badass — a rogue, self-trained midwife who started her own birthing center at a commune in Tennessee. This book is her guide, her philosophy, and her experience. The best thing? The first third of the book is written by her patients, giving glimpses of their positive, natural birth experiences. Then, Ina May details all of the different ways and methods to cope with labor — particularly the more difficult labors. She is unflappably calm and amazingly creative, and gives you a lot of ideas to hold in your personal labor arsenal. For example, if you open your mouth during pushing, you’re less likely to tear. If you’re muscles are tight, and someone rocks you back and forth, you’re more likely to relax and have it easier. And you get to read Ina May’s amazing statistics for her commune birthing center at the end. Also, it’s well written and has a good sense of humor!

For coping with labor pain in a natural way, check out: Birthing from Within by Pam England and Rob Horowitz and Hypnobirthing by Marie Mongan. Both of these books are designed around a “method” to deal with labor, so you may want to choose one ore the other. However, I think checking out a little of both is important because it gives you a chance to gather more tools for your labor arsenal. Birthing from Within does have some wacky stuff about creating birth art to express your fear, which I’m not really into, but some people might find cool. What I really liked about Birthing from Within is the varied methods of coping with pain and the suggestions for how to cope with post-partum stress. Hypnobirthing has a lot about the history of childbirth, and it explains the self-hypnosis methods for dealing with labor. It has a great deal of wonderful information about pregnancy, and it explains meditation you can practice and use during childbirth. Also very well written and engaging. Highly recommended!

Breastfeeders will need … A good breastfeeding book. The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding By La Leche League International comes highly recommended. It’s the one I have, and there’s a ton of great information in it … but … it gets a bit preachy. If you are someone who knows you’ll get cranky at super preachy breastfeeding dogma (i.e. “There’s no such thing as not producing enough milk. If you’re not producing enough milk, there’s something wrong with you.”), then don’t get this one. I haven’t checked any other ones, but The Nursing Mother’s Companion comes highly recommended as well, and I would definitely give Ina May’s Guide to Breastfeeding a good try since Ina May pretty much rules.

Everyone needs … Baby Bargains! As you know, I totally support Baby Bargains. The authors claim they’ll save you lots of dough when buying your baby gear, but I’m not sure if that’s the main benefit of this tome. The main benefit? I found out about everything available on the market, got familiar with brands, and got good ideas for what I needed and didn’t need. From this book, I got the crib recommendation that led me to choose Westwood, the idea to purchase the Arm’s Reach Mini Co-Sleeper, and the suggestions as to what brands to include on my registry. That said, the authors, Denise and Alan Fields, are parents and not consumer reports experts. It’s also good to get opinions from other sources — I choose friends and family, and Amazon reviews!

And if you’re interested in a book for your partner … Get The Birth Partner by Penny Simkin. This is the to-go reference for the person in your life who will be supporting you through labor — significant other, friend, mom and dad … etc. This has all the information that that person can tell you throughout your pregnancy — exercises, health, nutrition, and all the stuff they can tell you about labor while you’re in it — medical interventions, options, and positions, and what you can expect after the birth — how to identify postpartum depression, how you can be supported in breastfeeding, and how to clean your baby. It’s good for that person in your life to have all the info. As much as you can cram in your brain, you won’t remember all of it, and it’s good to have someone there to remind you and make sure you’ve got what you need.

I’ll have another addition after Sam is born — the best books for having a baby!


Best Paint for Pregnant Ladies July 16, 2010

Hey everyone! I was just looking at my blog stats and saw that one of the more common searches that led people to my page was “best paint for pregnant ladies,” so hey, I give the people what they want.

The best paint for pregnant ladies is, of course, the lowest of the low-VOC, the paints that are qualified as no-VOC.

The paints that I have used are:

1. Benjamin Moore Natura — I got this guy mixed to match Glidden’s Fresh Guacamole for the nursery. The big advantage here is that you can get Natura mixed to match just about ANYTHING. Another advantage is that it has very little smell at all. Any paint sample you find anywhere? You can get it in Natura. The disadvantages are that you have to go to a Benjamin Moore store to get it, and it’s hella expensive at about 60 bucks a gallon.

2. C2 Lovo (available at Benjamin Moore Stores) — I used this for the master bedroom (in Potato Leek) and the nursery closet (in Chelsea). The advantages are that it comes in lovely colors and that it has very little smell. Again, you have to get it at Benjamin Moore stores, and it runs 55 bucks a gallon. And it’s low-VOC, not no-VOC. But it’s worked well for us in a couple of places.

3. Freshaire — Now, this is the best paint of the lot, I do believe. Major advantages include: you can get it at your local Home Depot, it has a small but very nice selection of colors, and it’s way cheaper at 30 bucks a gallon. It’s not going to be your cheapest option (you have to buy higher VOC paint options for that), but it’s probably down there with the cheapest of the cheap no-VOC options. Oh yeah, and for a cheaper paint, it’s super high quality, thick, and goes on smooth. And with absolutely no odor that we can detect! The only disadvantage I can see is that the color options are limited and somewhat muted. As in, you probably won’t be able to find a bright, charming nursery color — but if your tendency is toward the more subdued, you may be in luck.

A paint I’ve heard about a lot but have not used is Mythic Paint, found at Lowe’s. Check it out! I think it may have more color options than Freshaire, so it’s worth a look.

Of course, many of you pregnant ladies won’t have occasion to paint, or may be totally freaked out by the idea altogether. I will say that the no-VOC is just that. It has no volatile organic compounds, which is the nasty stuff that can give you headaches (and if you drink it, it probably won’t be good for your baby). But there’s no reason to shy away from using the no-VOC paint. It’s an excuse to exercise your nesting instinct in your baby’s room, and perhaps in other areas of your home. It’s water based, green, and non-toxic. As for painting, go for it! Get someone else to get up on the step stool, and take care of your back since you’re up and down a lot during the painting process. And enjoy!


Slow FE July 10, 2010

Filed under: pregnancy,Product Reviews,Products,Reviews — hokoonchi @ 3:00 am
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A plug for this amazing iron supplement …

Over fifty percent of pregnant ladies have anemia at some point in their pregnancy. I am one of those ladies. For weeks, and weeks, I have been feeling like total crap. Worn down, drug out, and totally fatigued. I found out I had low hemoglobin on Monday and started taking the iron pills my doctor recommended last night. Today, I’ve felt better than I have in a long time. (Just like my doc said I would.) Anyway, of course ask your doc what to do when you’re preggers and anemic, but I’m loving this supplement. It’s supposed to be a little less harsh on the stomach than most iron supplements, and it releases slowly throughout the day.

Of course, it’s cheaper on Amazon. Find it here.


Third Trimester Survival June 21, 2010

Filed under: pregnancy,Products — hokoonchi @ 10:01 pm
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I just officially entered my third trimester — or at least my iphone app tells me so. I’ll be experiencing this less delicate time during July, August, and early September. Perfect timing, right? I’m definitely freaking out a little bit that it’s all so close and so soon, but I’m taking measures to keep myself healthy and in check … But how do I survive it in the best way possible? Here’s my guide for the third trimester summer survival kit:

1. Yoga ball — my back has gotten to the point where it hurts to sit in certain ways or stand for extended periods of time. I would recommend using a yoga ball when sitting for long periods of time. It was a lifesaver for me during a long meeting last week, and I’m planning to start using it in my sewing room as well. Bouncing and rolling on the yoga ball also stretches out those muscles and makes the body feel a lot better. My doula also recommends bringing one to the hospital since it’s great for your body and your comfort to labor on the ball.

2. A nice swimsuit and a friend with a pool — This is the only thing that’s going to get me through. Unfortunately, my friend who has a pool is moving in July … so I’ll have to beg someone else. The pool is the only place I feel weightless. It’s great to stretch and just move your legs around in the pool. Total bonus.

3. A foam roller — What a fabulous invention. For those of you who have never used it before, it’s a revelation. When lying on the roller in various positions, you can give yourself the equivalent of a deep tissue massage. During pregnancy, it’s excellent to do this on the glutes, hip flexors, and lower spine. I also love stretching out my chest and shoulders while lying on the roller.

4. A yoga DVD or yoga class — My prenatal yoga class is a lifesaver. I’ve learned a lot of new stretches and techniques to alleviate pain, and you get to practice your meditation and detachment for labor. I can’t recommend this enough (full post on this to follow).

5. A tennis ball — I got this tip from my yoga class. Use a tennis ball or golf ball to massage your feet and hands. When we did this in class, my feet especially felt a lot different afterward. You can just put your weight on one foot, and roll the ball around on your other. It evens out the fascia and muscles, and it makes those summer-swollen feet feel a ton better.

6. A body pillow (or two) — Even though I’m not in love with my Leacho back and body pillow since it’s too big and bulky, I’ve started sleeping with it again. You really need a pillow between the legs while sleeping to even out the spin and support your belly … It helps the back feel better in the morning. I would recommend getting a cheap, long body pillow instead of a fancy maternity pillow like the Leacho. It will probably do the same job and take up less space in the bed.

That’s all for now! I may come back and add after experiencing more of my third trimester!


The Shoes You Must Have — Pregnant Ladies Edition June 18, 2010

YES, you need to buy new shoes. Along with the maternity clothes. An expense you didn’t know about? Not me, you say? Well, read on …

I recently heard something on the radio that I figured out around week six of my pregnancy — pregnant women shouldn’t wear high heels! Check out the full article HERE. If you don’t end up reading the article, let me summarize in my own vernacular:

1. During pregnancy, your body starts to release the hormone relaxin. Relaxin’s main purpose is to soften the joints of the pelvis so that it becomes more flexible during birth. Unfortch, it ends up softening the joints in the whole body — which leads not only to a nicely relaxed pelvis, but also a body more prone to pulled muscles, back pain, and you guessed it — foot pain! The foot is all full of bones and joints and ligaments, and relaxin makes them mash all down and out and about, making your foot mooshy, big, and not easily supported.

2. Heels hurt your foot, even on the best of days when you are non-pregnant. They may look super cute, but they hurt your feet and your calf muscles. And they make you more prone to fall — and when you’re preggo, you’re wobbly and more prone to fall anyway.

3. You shouldn’t wear super FLAT soled shoes either — like Uggs, ballet flats, or flat-soled flip flops. They give those mooshy big feet like, NO support.

In conclusion, you have to be WISE about the shoes that you wear during pregnancy, or you’ll end up with sore feet, super-swelling, and possibly a sprained ankle or worse from a fall. Wear supportive flats instead!

Here are my suggestions for the shoes you need during a summer pregnancy:

Fit Flops

Fit Flops

1. Fit Flops: I had these guys before I got preggo. My mom’s best friend gave them to me, and my mom thought I’d never wear them since they’re not “cute.” Instead, I wore them all last summer. My dog ate one of the pair, and I got a second pair from Amazon ASAP.  Ever since it got hot, I’ve worn them as much as possible, all the time. They’re great on long walks, trips to the mall, or just about anywhere you go. They are extremely supportive (MUCH different than other flip flops), and they’re the most comfortable shoe ever. The CLAIM is that they burn more calories because of they way they’re shaped. I don’t know about all that, but I know they are really awesome and comfy. I’ve never had a day that my feet hurt in these … Buy ’em on Amazon!

Born Wedges

Born Wedges

2. Anything by Born, really: I have a pair of Born wedges very similar to these. I will warn you that I fell the first time I wore these guys, but that’s mostly because I’m a klutz and was adjusting to the height. I have not fallen since, and as such, I highly recommend these guys. If you are allowed to wear open-toed shoes at work, these will work well. They are cushy and soft on the sole, and very comfortable and cute. I got mine at DSW. No pain in these guys either …

Earth Shoes

Earth Shoes - Stunning

3. Earth Shoes – I just got these guys last week, and I’ve broken them in after only a couple of wears. They have negative heel technology, which adjusts your posture and is easy on your back. Some of these crazy shoes that claim things like this don’t really work, nor are they comfortable. The Earth shoe really works. I have crazy flat feet that are super painful during this stage of pregnancy, and these automatically lift me into a better posture, and make me feel like I can stand up all day to teach my classes. They have the reverse heel, a strong arch, and toe support. I’ve successfully killed the arch with the flatness of my feet, but otherwise, the support is totally working for me. Tip: try these on in a high end store like Comfort One or The Walking Company, and then order your size on Ebay. You can see Earth shoes run $100+ … but I got them on Ebay for $50.

So these are the shoes I wear most often this summer. I can also recommend for the cooler months:

A pair of knee-high boots by Born – cute, comfortable, supportive … will look great with skirts, dresses, trousers, or jeans. I love mine!

A pair of flats by Clarks Unstructured – extremely breathable, soft insole, and molds easily to your foot. I have two pairs and have worn them until my feet expanded by a half size. Great in winter, spring or summer!

Waterproof knee-high boots by Merrell – excellent design, wonderful replacement for Uggs (which aren’t waterproof!), and will get you through those cold, rainy, snowy months. I have a pair of Merrell knee-highs that aren’t waterproof, and I’ve worn them til the soles have started to decay. I plan to get these next!

Casual shoes by Merrell – super comfort and warmth in winter. Perfect to wear with jeans or trousers … can be worn to work as well. I’ve loved my casual Merrells.

Of course, I also recommend a high-quality sneaker. Walking is great during pregnancy, and although all the shoes above are excellent for mall walking or taking a stroll, you’ll need something dedicated to exercise. I recommend Merrell or Saucony on that front … but you probably already have a favorite brand.

Remember, your feet will grow at least one half size during pregnancy (mine did by four months or so), and maybe more during the hot summer months when swelling is at its worst. So yeah, there’s no getting around it: you WILL need several new pairs of shoes to get you through. Make sure they are high quality, supportive flats or wedges, and not heels, flat-soled ballet shoes, or Ugg types. Try more expensive brands on, and pick one or two items to get you through the preggo season. Try them on at the store, and then search on Ebay! Never hurts to hunt for a bargain …

Happy shoe hunting!


The Pregnant Lady’s Medicine Cabinet June 15, 2010

The pregnant lady must have a medicine cabinet different than that of the non-pregnant lady. It’s a necessity. My pre-pregnant medicine cabinet involved a lot of Advil, the occasional Sudafed, and Alka-Seltzer when indigestive. I quickly learned that this won’t fly when pregnant. I even remember the day when my former coworker told me that you don’t get to take Advil while in a family way. I was stunned, shocked, and indignant. How would I survive? I’ve always had scoliosis and a resulting plethora of back ailments — all of which are aided by yoga, stretching and massage, but often need to be supplemented with Advil. (I actually had the thought today that I would be excited to be able to take Advil again. How sad is that?) Anyway, I’ve needed to adjust. I’ll share my current medicine cabinet with you. For the newly pregnant, I hope this helps!

On a side note, as much as we all wish we didn’t have to take meds while pregnant, you may have to. The list below has been approved by both doctors I’ve seen, my pregnancy iphone app, and several reference books.

1. Tylenol for headaches (doesn’t work as well for body aches) — Keep stocked up on regular strength Tylenol. According to my current doctor, you can really take as many as you want, and it won’t harm the baby. I try to limit myself to two in any given day, and I try not to take it more than two or three times a week. I figure Tylenol is fine for my baby — there’s tons of stuff out there that says it’s absolutely and totally harmless — but I don’t want to overdo it, particularly not for MY liver. When I’ve gotten sick (three times — a bad cold in February, a stomach virus in April, and bronchitis just now), I’ve been a bit more liberal with dosage. Doc says totally safe — don’t worry about this harming your little one. Lots of pregnant ladies get raging headaches at different points in their pregnancy, so get a bottle, and use it when need be.

2. Tums for heartburn and upset stomach — I’d much rather have an Alka-Seltzer right now for this crazy heartburn, but I can’t. Tums and Rolaids taste gross, but they work fast on heartburn and stomach upset, and will be a boon to you throughout your pregnancy. These are again fully approved by the docs, and if you look at the ingredients, they’re just calcium citrate (a highly digestible form of calcium). They’re actually recommended for women with a calcium deficiency, since they readily absorb so easily. They’re pretty much like a vitamin that soothes heartburn. Go to Costco and get a big old pack. (Tagamet, Zantac and the like are labeled OK by the docs as well.)

3. Doxylamine or Dipenhydramine for insomnia and morning sickness — These guys are found in your OTC sleep aids like Unisom or Tylenol PM. Again, labeled totes safe by many different sources. They are both antihistamines that help a lot of people sleep. I know that I have had some terrible nights without sleep, and recently I bought a bottle of dipenhydramine to get me through the bronchitis (since Nyquil is out). I just take a half of one and it soothes me to sleep. Before, I would have used the natural supplement Melatonin (which docs do NOT recommend during pregnancy). Now, this works okay. I don’t take more than one or so a week, and as I said, I split them in half. They make some people a little groggy, so start off with a quarter of a pill if you start having some severe preggo related insomnia. Crazy enough, these guys also work for morning sickness. Doctors recommend taking a half of a pill at night, and many women can attest that this helped their stomachs remain calm in the next day. Pretty cool, huh?

4. Prenatal vitamins for vitamin goodness — You gotta have prenatals! It used to be that doctors prescribed them to their patient, but my doc says the OTC kind are cheaper, and just as good these days. Most insurance won’t cover the prescription kind anymore, so going with the Vitamin Store kind is probably just fine. I checked out a bunch of different varieties, most of which you have to take three or four times a day. Ugh. I can tell you right now I’d never remember to do that. So I picked the Prenatal One Rainbow Light brand. They are all organic, include herbal supplements that calm the stomach and promote milk coming in, and you only have to take one a day! They contain all the same things that the other vites have, and they are exceptionally easy on the stomach. Get ’em on Amazon for a great price here! Take them through pregnancy and breastfeeding, and you’ll be all vitamined up. DON’T substitute a regular vitamin even if they are less expensive — they have too much vitamin A and can harm your baby!

5. Prenatal DHA supplement for fetal brain development and prevention of postpartum depression — I got a few samples of DHA supplements from my first doctor, along with some prenatal vitamin samples. I was all like, hey, I didn’t know I needed these. I then did some research and asking questions about DHA during pregnancy. DHA promotes brain and nervous system development in babies, and helps the mom’s brain and nervous system (as well as her circulatory system and cholesterol!). Nordic Naturals is definitely the best brand for fish oil — before, during, or after pregnancy. This particular DHA supplement by Nordic Naturals is formulated for pregnant women in that it has the highest level of DHA, no heavy metals, and extra vitamin D. (The fish they use is krill, which will have no mercury in ’em since fish with mercury are predatory fish, and krill are just … dinner for whales.) If you are a vegetarian or vegan, check out the Enfamil Expecta DHA supplement. These also have the added benefit of not giving any fish burps (the Nordic Naturals have only given me a few here and there — much better than the regular Costco brand of fish oil.)

6. Pregnancy tea for uterine toning and healthy pregnancy support — I totally recommend Traditional Medicinals Pregnancy Tea. It’s really yummy, calms and soothes the upset stomach, and claims to tone the uterus and prepare it for childbirth. Mostly, it’s soothing. It might not do all that it claims, but it certainly tastes good, and it can’t hurt. A great substitute for coffee drinkers!

7. Morning sickness tea for nausea, heartburn and general ick — Peppermint tea will work, and lemon ginger tea works too. But Morning Wellness Tea is the best stuff I tried. Instantly soothing to the sick stomach. It got me through many days at work, and many nights of nausea after dinner. Can’t be beat.

Start building that medicine cabinet when you first realize you’re knocked up! It will help you so much to have meds, vitamins, supplements and teas to support you through this delicate time …

On a side note, if you are trying to get pregnant, it’s great to start taking your prenatals and your DHA so that you can start nourishing your baby before you know you are pregnant.


The Elusive Waterproof Boppy Cover! June 14, 2010

Filed under: motherhood,nursing,Products — hokoonchi @ 2:26 pm
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I definitely intend on getting a Boppy Pillow for nursing (it supports the baby while he hangs out and nurses). It gets great reviews — both anecdotal from friends and family members, and just through sheer numbers on Amazon. However, I have heard a common complaint — there is a surprising dearth of waterproof covers! One reviewer on Amazon even said she had to cover the whole thing in Saran Wrap.

Non-moms may ask: why does the cover need to be waterproof?

Future mom answers: From what I understand, breast-feeding is a somewhat … juicy process. There are lots of fluids flying about — colostrum, milk, baby spit, baby spit-up, burbles and gurgles. And what does milk do? Even human milk? It spoils and goes sour and smells narsty.

Having recently considered this problem, I started a search for the waterproof Boppy Cover that must surely exist.

Etsy to the rescue! Ladies (and gents), check out this seller:

I think I may have purchased the last waterproof cover she has available in her shop, but I imagine if you email her, she can update you on when she’ll have more available.

You can also find one here. Actually looks pretty cool — might want to check out the other stuff on there too!

For a Boppy alternative, check out My Brest Friend. Some people like one; some like the other. Make sure you find some waterproof covers!