Follow up to the breastfeeding post.

Written by Elena @The Art of Making a Baby. Posted in HEALTH, New Mom Experience

Also read:

Birth Story Part I
Birth Story Part II
Reflections on Birth Experience
Breastfeeding Journey
Breastfeeding Products that Helped 

First of all, I’d like to thank you all for such awesome comments on the breastfeeding post! One day it will be an invaluable resource and support  for some new mom who’s struggling just like we all struggled in the beginning.

As expected, there were a few things I forgot to mention in the main post, so I am going to address them here, along with some of your questions. If you asked a question about products and supplements that helped me, that will be covered in the next breastfeeding post, so hang tight. If I somehow missed your question, please let me know.

Nipple Shield

 

As I was trying to recall my first few weeks of breastfeeding, I COMPLETELY forgot about the nipple shield. The hospital LC reluctantly gave me one after Alexis so quickly destroyed my nipple and warned that it has the potential to diminish my milk supply. At that point I felt I had no choice but to use it. For the next 4-5 weeks I kept trying to get off the nipple shield, but as soon as I went a few nursings without it, the cracks and bleeding  would come right back and I’d have to use it again. I have to admit using the nipple shield and knowing it can mess with the supply definitely added to the whole “supply worry”. I kept thinking that was the issue: because I used a nipple shield, she couldn’t get enough milk and had to nurse every 30-40 minutes and was fussy because my supply was dropping due to the shield in addition to her bad latch. (that was wrong btw). So after we finally called a Lactation Consultant and she visited us in our home and showed me a few tricks, I was more determined to stopped using the shield. She also confirmed that my supply was absolutely fine ( I was spraying and Alexis was one heavy baby) and that I just needed to keep trying and get off the darn shield. I used 3 different brands of shields and will talk about them in the next post, each one was good for a certain stage. Finally, I was able to nurse on one side without a shield, with pain but bearable enough not to be deathly afraid of nursing. It took me A LOT longer to wean my other boob off the shield and I kept going back and forth. I’d use the shield, then try to take it off for a few nursings, decide it just wasn’t worth it, go back on it. Until soon enough I was nursing without. All in all, I don’t think shields are all that bad, IF your baby is nursing frequently and for a decent amount of time.

Attachment

I wanted to clarify a bit what was happening with Alexis when I would leave her for longer than 2 hours. It’s not exactly a bottle issue. We introduced a bottle early on ( despite my fear that I’d mess up her latch even further), when we wanted to figure out my supply and why she was feeding so often (I’d pump, we’d feed her and see how much she’s taking and whether she’s hungry after). Whenever I left her with Andrew, she’d take the bottle just fine, maybe reluctant at first, but well enough. She is also perfectly happy hanging out with her father, who she has a really good bond with, since she spends at least 2 full days during the week with him exclusively. She’s never had any issues spending a whole day with him and my mom as long as I am home (but doing work or otherwise occupied with something important). Now, I have a few suspicions for why this was happening. I think it’s a new development and it has more to do with her getting overstimulated and overtired, because both events happened at 7:30 pm and I noticed she is now getting very upset around that time if we don’t put her to sleep promptly (a nap, she goes to sleep for the night at 10pm). And once she’s THAT upset, noone but me AND the boob can really calm her down. That’s my theory in short and we’re going to test it out and see. I’ll update in one of the future posts.

Reader Questions:

“From what I read in the internet, there is a very very long list of products that you are not allowed to eat, and very short one of what you can eat while breastfeeding. What’s your menu? I’d appreciate to read about someone’s actual experience.”

There was only 1 change to my diet that I made prior to starting breastfeeding (2 weeks before, to be exact). I eliminated all cow’s milk proteins (dairy). It takes about two weeks to clear your system. There’s a multitude of reasons for it with the simplest to explain being, that if your child is going to have allergies, reflux, colic, tummy pain, the most likely culprit is cow’s milk. So why not be proactive and not  have to test to see if your child is the one sensitive to it? My full reasoning is a lot more extensive and serious than that. Cow’s milk is just a really really bad thing (especially the way it’s currently produced) and with infants having a “leaky” intenstine in order to let mother’s immune factors through, milk proteins really mess with their system. Once the intestines close up, going back to eating dairy shouldn’t be a problem ( around 4-6 months).

Once Alexis arrived and we discovered that she has a bit of reflux, I went ahead and eliminated foods that tend to make reflux worse, like tomatoes, fried foods, onions, citrus and garlic. I noticed that her reflux acts up if I eat fried foods, not sure about the rest, but I am not willing to test it out yet.

So basically, since I don’t eat any meat, but  eat salmon and sardines for their DHA content, my meals are pretty much vegan with the exception of above mentioned fish. Lots of vegetables, whole grains, legumes, salads and vegan soups.

“This is question coming from someone who currently has no children but I am just really curious about the whole breastfeeding issue as having children is something in my near future. How does it hurt? That is to say, what is the baby doing that is causing the pain? Or is it your body just recovering from having a baby and your body just getting use to producing breastmilk so in turn your body just hurts and no matter what baby does it’s going to be painful? I have heard it can be painful so I am not doubting anything you (and the other commenters) are saying. I am just curious as to why. One would think with a newborn having no teeth they can’t bite you, but clearly that is not the issue. I know I’ll never truely understand until I am doing it myself but I’m just kind of curious anyway.”

I didn’t have any contractions or body pains (except for the first day in the hospital but those were very mild), however I have heard of women who have them REALLY BAD. The pain that most women are referring to is a searing type of pain on the surface of your nipple. Basically, imagine skinning your knee and then applying salt to it and pressing down and rubbing it in, then transfer that feeling onto something a lot more sensitive like your neither regions or your nipple. The baby’s tongue and lips rub your already sensitive nipple raw and then the continued suction and rubbing make it even worse. And it goes on for about 6 weeks. If you have a baby who tucks their top lip in, they give you a hickey on the nipple or areola which is really painful. And then add to that the fact that the pain doesn’t go away when you’re not nursing because you have to wear bras that rub on your nipples. If the latch is correct, after the initial pain, it should be fine, because the nipple would be positioned where it doesn’t rub on anything. But rarely can a newborn baby latch on perfectly, so the nipple ends up being rubbed by her/his tongue, the roof of his/her mouth, gums, etc. Many times the nipple is rubbed so bad, it gets cracked, you can see little “holes” and open cracks in it ( it was that way in my case). I don’t want to scare you though, it’s not that bad for everyone. Some women are lucky and end up with a baby who can latch well and a big well defined nipple.

There’s also pain during let down ( when your milk starts to come out/spray) in some women ( me including). It can be mild and prickling or strong and ache and feel like little tiny needles are poking through your nipple! Fun, huh? :)

Sarah: “Also, and forgive me if you have already answered this and I missed it, are you using nursing pads? If so, what kind? I’m small breasted/small frames and everything I try is too bulky and annoying, But I need something to stop the leaks!”

I tried a few nursing pads, including reusable washable ones and the only ones I liked were Simplisse ones. They’re thin enough and don’t tend to stick to your nipples like others. I was leaking in the beginning, then the leaking stopped, and now I’m back to leaking. In general, I find breastpad too much of a pain to worry about and since I’ve been staying home most of the time, I just change my clothes often :) lol

Lara: “Just have a question about pumping, cause it sounds like you did some of it quite early on. When did you pump? How many times a day? Did you pump on the side that Alexis didn’t feed from, or on the same side? (I’m hoping to introduce a bottle for occasions when I have to go out so I’m just seeing what others have done/do)”

Initially, I wanted to stay away from pumping because I knew it would lead to engorgement, possibly mastitis and oversupply. I didn’t need to build a milk stash urgently since I work from home, so I took it slow. I wanted Alexis to set my supply naturally.  At first I would pump because we were trying to figure out my supply and whether Alexis was getting enough. I’d pump until nothing would come out and feed it to her. Not much would come out at first: 1-2 oz from each breast.  Later once things started settling down I was pumping to have enough for me to go to my doctor’s appointment or dentist without having to drag both my hubby and Alexis with me, because she was eating every 30-60 minutes. Also, honestly, I didn’t have time to pump between her frequent feedings. The few times I tried when my supply was still establishing, she would end up wanting to eat literally 10 minutes after and I would have no milk for her. So I stopped until she started spacing out her feedings a bit more at night. I’d wake up with my breasts full, feed her on one side and pump on the other (in the middle of the night). After a while I collected about 20 oz by just pumping once at night, but I do believe it created a bit of an oversupply that I am somewhat struggling with right now. I don’t want to keep pumping since I really don’t enjoy being engorged and it’s a slippery slope. Plus she keeps chocking from the milk coming out too strong, so it’s not exactly great. I think for moms who mainly stay home, doing occasional pumping after the supply is established is the best way to go. Though, I’m sure it’s different for everyone, so see what works for you. If you can handle not going anywhere for longer than 1-2 hours in the first 8 weeks, then don’t worry about pumping. You can do that once your supply is good and set.

Also, I never got to mention it, because I haven’t done another postpartum post, but even though I avoided stretchmarks everywhere during pregnancy, after I started pumping and obviously getting too full, I developed stretchmarks on my boobs. I completely forgot that it can be an issue and didn’t moisturize at all (I couldn’t really with Alexis). Then around 8 weeks I started noticing them. It sucks that I didn’t pay attention to it, but at least they’re only on my boobs which are always covered up in public. So keep that in mind and don’t make the same mistake as I did :)

Engorgement

-I got a question about engorgement but I couldn’t find it for some reason. I didn’t struggle with engorgement much. It became very uncomfortable when my milk first came in, almost painful, but mostly very uncomfortable. I was saved from engorgement by Alexis’ feeding habits, which were a lot more frequent than normal, so I didn’t have time to get engorged. That is until recently when she started sleeping longer stretches at night. I am not bothered too much by it, but I know some women really struggle. It can be painful, uncomfortable and it definitely prevents the baby from getting a good latch or sucking effectively. Now that I think of it, I do remember being engorged in the beginning and Alexis having trouble sucking on anything but my nipple, which hurt like hell. The problem with engorgement is that the breast is so big and full and almost misshapen that the baby has trouble getting a good latch and removing the milk effectively, which can lead to more engorgement initially and an early weaning and low milk supply later. That was a big reason for why I was very careful with pumping. A few times when I’d wake up at night feeling too full, I’d pump for just a minute or so, because that doesn’t perpetuate the problem by stimulating the breast too much, but brings some relief.

Alyssa:  I do not want to start an argument, not at all. I think it’s neat to be able to provide food for your child without cost. However, with everything you said, why oh why oh why do you breastfeed??? It sounds so incredibly painful, it sounds hard, it sounds like you are trapped in your house until you are “no longer the only source of food”.Other than $$ that it costs to purchase formula, why NOT use formula? Anyone can feed the baby then, no pain on your part, baby still gets nutrition it needs (formula is not poison!). Win. Win. Win.I honestly am not trying to post just to create an argument, I legitimately do NOT understand women who go on and on about how painful it is and how you are the only source of food, and are engorged, and can’t leave the house, etc; I do not understand why not to use formula.For the record, I have two kids (1 and 2 years old), both drank formula 100% except for baby #1?s first 3 days. I “tried” to BF but I knew right away that it wasn’t for me. And there’s no question about “is baby getting enough?”  And no reason to change your diet (ie. eliminating milk products)

-No, formula isn’t poison, but it is definitely not the OPTIMAL nutrition for a baby, just look at the ingredients: corn syrup solids as one of the top ingredients. It also doesn’t have nearly enough DHA in it which is very important for synapse myelination in early childhood. We were made to feed our babies, our milk is created in a way as to give the perfect nutrition for human babies along with perfect emotional bonding. Our brains and system is developed specifically to thrive on breast milk and with breastfeeding emotional connections and closeness. Formula is a great answer for women who for some reason cannot or chose not to breastfeed, because without formula the baby would starve or be fed solids (cow’s milk, cereals, like in the days before formula) and possibly die from that. I don’t know the reasons for why most women breastfeed, but I would guess they are somewhat the same. For me it was never an option NOT to breastfeed. We went to such an extent to ensure  that during pregnancy I got the absolutely best nutrition and care possible, that it was just a no brainer to do the same once Alexis arrived.  I don’t need to bring up studies for why breast milk is beneficial and that very benefit is why women struggle and live in pain for the first 6-8 weeks. Then, of course, there’s the bonding experience like no other, the idea of giving your baby sustenance, the convenience, the savings- but all these were trivial to me, compared to the health benefits, emotional benefits and developmental benefits breastmilk has the potential to bring. As far as diet changes, the biggest one is giving up dairy and most women don’t do that, so in most cases that’s not an issue. If I were to feed Alexis formula, I wouldn’t give her standard formula that has cow’s milk, anyways.  I would feed her elemental formula that has all the proteins broken down into amino acids so there are no issues with cow’s milk sensitivity. Hope this explains it. I’m sure there are a lot more other reasons and benefits I have no time to think of right now.

Oh and also the question of “Is the baby getting enough” is not necessary. It’s only in our heads. I think if ALL women were to share their stories and experiences with honesty and in detail, and we had more of  breastfeeding society, the issue of “Is the baby getting enough” wouldn’t even come up, because we’d be confident in knowing how breastfeeding works and what’s normal and what’s not. I bumped into an awesome article about this syndrome of “low milk supply” that I would recommend anyone read.

Lindsey: “Random question, What carrier are you nursing alexis in, in the photo?”

-It’s the LilleBaby’s Nordic carrier. I’ll be writing about it and doing a giveaway sometime in the next month or so. I LOVE IT! It has a great head support, lightweight and not too hot. And as you can see, easy to breastfeed in.

Gina: “When you say she still sometimes chokes and has milk come out of her nose, do you know what that’s from? My son does the same thing (sometimes), I’m thinking it’s an over supply issue.”

-I’ve looked into this and have come to two conclusions. It’s either from reflux and their immature esophagus or from oversupply or both. I know she often chokes when the let down happens which is from oversupply. Milk comes out of her nose mostly when I am feeding her while lying down and I think it can be due to esophagus not closing properly and due to chocking from fast let down ( kind of like “went down the wrong pipe” deal).

Allyssa: “So are you a NIP without a cover mama or was the first photo just for the blog? I think it’s awesome when women do that. I’ll have to see how I feel when I have my baby. What is the carrier in the first picture? Do you have any other carriers that you BF in?”

None of the photos in the breastfeeding post were taken for the blog, I was really breastfeeding at those moments. I definitely have NO problems with nursing in public with or without cover. As a matter of fact, there were 3 golf carts passing by at that moment with people waving at us and saying hi (LOL). Breastfeeding is natural, boobs aren’t dirty or need to be overly sexualized, a baby eating the way it was supposed to isn’t gross but should be encouraged.  That being said, I am not going to walk around pulling my boob out wherever I want, but if Alexis needs to eat, I WILL feed her immediately. I have a few nursing tops and dresses, most from Boob Design, others are just nursing friendly (low neckline and stretchy), so I will always be discreet, however I make no bones about it, if I am not wearing a nursing top and I need to pull my shirt down and feed her where we both are comfortable, I will do so without trying to hide somewhere. I don’t think I will be using a nursing cover, I actually don’t own one. The carrier I am breastfeeding in is LilleBaby’s Nordic carrier. I also use Beco carrier to BF in, and plan on BFing in Moby and Balboa sling.

Next post: Breastfeeding Products that helped me get through 8 weeks and some breastfeeding goodies for you, guys.

Also read:

Birth Story Part I
Birth Story Part II
Reflections on Birth Experience
Breastfeeding Journey
Breastfeeding Products that Helped 

Best for Baby: Lavanila Baby Care

Written by Elena @The Art of Making a Baby. Posted in Best for Baby, HEALTH, PRODUCTS

LAVANILA

Today I bring to you a line of baby skin care products from Lavanila, a healthy skin care brand.

I was first introduced to it as a company that makes healthy fragrance. Most perfumes have parabens in them even if they are not listed (FDA allows manufacturers to not disclose the ingredients of the fragrance of their products due to trade law, so the listing that has “fragrance/perfum” as an ingredient can very well contain some of the worst chemicals).

Little did I know that they carry a small but amazing baby skincare line!

Babies don’t need much when it comes to personal care: a lotion, a wash, a diaper rash cream and maybe sunblock. It’s got it all.

What appeals to me the most is the fact that besides being 100% natural, it also delivers 30 essential vitamins and minerals that support the development of baby skin. However, many companies claim that their products  are “100% natural”, but it doesn’t always mean they’re harmless ( Hello, 7th generation cleaning products containing the 100% natural SLS!)

So I checked out the ingredients and I love it. See for yourselves:

BODY WASH

MY DIAPER RASH CREAM ORDEAL

The next test for me personally was the diaper rash cream. See, I’ve been striking out on diaper rash creams. When Alexis was first born, we used disposables and sorry to say, but we weren’t the greatest at changing her diaper promptly, because she never displayed any discomfort. So she developed a diaper rash and our pedi recommended A&D ointment or Destin. We immediately went to Walgreens to pick one of them up. I happened to glance at the ingredients of Destin and instantly put it back on the shelf: PARABENS! Seriously? They still TO THIS DAY put parabens into baby products???? That’s just ridiculous!

So we found A&D ointment. That one was better, however still contained a slew of known questionable chemicals. So I ordered an Earth Mama bottom balm, 100% natural ointment. The problem with it? No zinc oxide, which means no HEALING. The diaper rash would laugh in our faces when we put the Bottom Balm on it ( I’m sure it’s good for prevention, but not as a cure). So after some time I found a cream that both had zinc oxide  AND wasn’t too bad on the rest of the ingredients. It DID have mineral oil, which can dry out skin in the deeper layers of it, but I figured that beats parabens.

So (are you still with me?) when I saw the inredients for Lavanila Diaper Rash Cream, I did a happy dance! No parabens, no mineral oil, and YES to zinc oxide- hey these people know what they are doing! Needless to say our Lexi bottom has never looked so baby pink and smooth ( seriously!) and it took all of 2 days to clear it up. {I just had to stop writing and change Alexis’ diaper and I noticed how little of the Baby Bottom cream you need per diaper change, which is bonus}

Here’s what Lavanila’s promise is:
NO: Sulfates, Parabems, Phtalates, Silicone, Petrochemicals, Propylene Glycol, Mineral Oil, Formaldehyde, Synthetic Fragrances or dyes

I say yes to something like that!

I also love the smell of the Healthy Baby body wash and the fact that it’s a foam and not liquidy soap.

Anyways, I am personally sold on this company and their products. I know I’ll be back there when my products run out. I am looking forward to trying out the baby sunblock in months to come. It promises to be safe (and ingredients prove it), it smells mild and doesn’t leave your skin white like most physical sunscreens do.

I find it funny that I had to stop writing this post 3 times before I was done with it {A diaper change, a bath and a feeding and rocking to sleep}… Oh Lexi! I love you!

So if your baby struggles with diaper rash and you had no idea the conventional ointments have such harmful chemicals, or if you just want to have an awesome cream at hand, here’s how to get it:

BUY IT: Use this code  LAVELENA to get 40% OFF Baby products at Lavanila.com ($15)  {till 3/30}

WIN IT: You can enter a giveaway below to win Healthy Baby Bottom Cream

BELOW ARE THE GIVEAWAY RULES
and Mandatory Entries: {read carefully}

There are two mandatory entries, after which you will have additional entries available,
and 1 daily entry for which you can come back to enter daily.
The winning entry will be verified and the winner disqualified if the action is not found or if the mandatory items are not fullfilled.
Make sure to notate how you’re following the blog in the extra info field (entry #1). The entry won’t count if that information is missing.
Please make sure to visit Lavanila  Facebook Page and write on their wall which product you’d love to try.
The giveaway is open to US residents only. See the rafflecopter widget for additional terms and conditions.

If you have a blog, there’re 2 entries each worth 10 points ( post our button on your blog’s sidebar and blog about the giveaway)

{If you’re not sure how to use to enter, feel free to watch this video tutorial or email me at contact {at} prebabyblog {dot} com
Otherwise, make sure to read everything carefully. Click the DO IT link first, then ENTER once the action is completed}


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: I was not compensated by Lavanila. I received their products in exchange for an honest review. All the opinions represented here are 100% my own

Pregnancy Must Haves and Photo Recap (2nd Trimester Issue)

Written by Elena @The Art of Making a Baby. Posted in HEALTH, Health and Fitness, My Pregnancy, Other Recommendations, PREGNANCY, PRODUCTS

2nd trimester

As I continue musing on my 2nd trimester, I find it amazing how many more discoveries I’ve had since I got pregnant. Having been very prepared for pregnancy, there were still things I was finding out and figuring out in the first trimester, and just when I thought there was nothing new to find or learn, I’d stumble upon something else that is better or something I haven’t thought about, things that I wish I had known about in the 1st trimester.

So I thought it’d be fun to write a little bit about the 4 new items that I found very useful or helpful or better than anything else on the market during the 2nd trimester. And, our generous sponsors will actually give you an opportunity to win 3 out of 4 items I’ll be talking about, so don’t forget to enter when you’re done reading, if it’s something you like.

Mama Mio Skin Care

If you’ve been reading for a while, you might remember that I thoroughly researched pregnancy safe skin products and was going into pregnancy using only what I considered safe and having eliminated anything harmful. At that moment I was using Belli Skin Care line, which is a good and effective line of pregnancy products that is 100% teratogenically tested (teratogen= substance that causes birth defects) . Some time in my 1st trimester as I continued reading and researching chemicals in food and beauty products, I started realizing that what I was using previously, while teratogen free, is not exactly 100% safe and natural. The fact that something doesn’t cause birth defects doesn’t mean it won’t make other less obvious changes in your baby. Sodium Laurel Sulfate (SLS) for example, isn’t considered a teratogen, however it mimics a hormone, called oestrogen, and may be responsible for health problems, such as menopause, PMS, breast cancers, low male fertility, aside from the fact that it can be contaminated with dioxane, a known carcinogen. And nothing that mimics hormones is a good idea to use during pregnancy since the whole pregnancy is lead and governed by the correct expression of hormones. Well, SLS is literally everywhere. If it’s some sort of cleaning or foaming product, like a face wash, you’ll see Sodium Laurel Sulfate as one of the top ingredients.

I don’t know how about you, but while pregnant, I really didn’t want to risk it. So I’d spend hours trying to find products that didn’t have these lesser known or not so obviously harmful chemicals.I did find a good product in each necessary category and you can see the line up here. However, the issue was while they were 100% safe and good for you, I wasn’t crazy about how well they worked or smelled. But I figured I’d survive with limp hair and stinky oily stomach until my baby is born! ( I couldn’t help but post this picture on the left. We took it for ourselves because we thought it was funny, but I think it really shows how big my belly has gotten, much more than you can see in a static picture. It amazes me sometimes: I have a big firm belly with our daughter inside!)

So that was until I bumped into Mama Mio products. By now you can tell, I am very serious about safety when it comes to pregnancy- any new product I buy, I dissect all the ingredients to make sure they’re acceptable to me. Their products clearly state that they are ALL paraben free, petroleum free, phthalates free, sodium laureth and sodium lauryl sulphate free, colourant free, synthetic fragrance free and xenoestrogen free. Sounds amazing, doesn’t it? However, I was still concerned about the fragrance. See, the word “fragrance” is where most skin care companies can hide all the nasty stuff, since fragrances are protected by copyright law ( or whatever it’s called when it comes to beauty products). You’re not required to disclose the content of the fragrance(perfum). So whenever you see that on your bottle of cream, you could be slathering yourself with parabens, petroleum, carcinogens, etc, unless the package says otherwise. So after looking more into what Mama Mio’s fragrance was all about, I found the best answer I could expect. Gravida is Mama Mio’s “amazing essential oil fragrance; a blend of 10 pregnancy-safe, pregnancy-specific natural oils which smells gorgeous to even the most sensitive of noses”. Sounds great! I also didn’t stop there. Once I got the products, I went over the ingredient list to makes sure there was nothing else I didn’t like the sound of and everything was perfect.

So I’ve been using them for almost 2 months now and I gotta tell you, there’s No Natural Skin Care Line I’ve used that compares to their products! I am a customer for life!

I’ve been using the BBB Kit (Boobs, Bellies, Bottoms), that includes Tummy Rub Oil, Boob Tube and O-Mega Wonder-Full Balm.

Tummy Oil is by far my favorite! First of all the smell is HEAVENLY! Throw away your Mother’s Blend Oil, because it doesn’t stand a chance. I remember hating the smell of Mother’s Blend in the first trimester and putting up with it in the 2nd. With Tummy Rub Oil, I look forward to my nightly routine. Even my husband keeps commenting on how good I smell after I apply it and he’s not really a smell guy. I still don’t have a single stretchmark and my belly has been growing much faster this past month, going from almost nothing to a big baby belly. I’m almost out of the oil, but I know I’ll be ordering another bottle very soon. Sometimes, when I lie down to relax after a tiring day, I put a little bit of the oil on my wrists and pillow just to have the smell around me, it’s so calming!

Boob Tube smells just as good ( a slightly different fragrance) and I am not sure if I’m hallucinating but I could swear my boobs are firmer and have more tone. Even if it’s all my imagination, I know the skin around them has never looked better. I should probably start applying it around my upper chest and neck too, since it’s a Bust and Neck firmer (something I just realized lol)

Omega Wonder-Full Balm is a one stop rescue balm. I use it on my lips, my elbows, my knees, dry spots on my tummy, my belly button when it feels stretchy. It smells amazing (again), hydrates and heals the skin instantly. And the bottle lasts FOREVER.

Some other items worth trying are cooling Lucky Legs for tired legs relief ( don’t have problems with legs since I’m home most of the time, so I haven’t tried that yet), existing stretchmarks and scars remedies (will definitely buy those if it ever becomes an issue), cellulite cream ( A must for me after pregnancy, along with Toning Serum). You know how when you find the right company and the right products that work for you, you no longer care about the price, it just makes sense to continue using them- Mama Mio is that line for me. Luckily, their prices are reasonable.

I’ve been kind of neglecting the rest of my body, leaving it dry and unexfoliated, because I couldn’t find anything safe enough, but with my next order, I’ll be buying the Body Oil or Cream and the Exfoliator to take care my horribly dry skin in all places other than boobs and tummy. Will report later on how these worked out for me.

If you’d like to try some of these products, Mama Mio is giving away a full sized set of Mighty Moisture Day & Night Moisturizer, Goodbye Stretch Marks and a Boob Tube to 1 lucky reader ( enter at the end of this post)

MyBrestFriend Body Pillow

A few months ago as I was starting to have to sleep on my side and was feeling very uncomfortable, I started looking for a body pillow. I asked people on the blog, I read a few review on Amazon, I balked at the $100 price tag of some of the body pillows. So I slept with 5 different pillows for as long as I could until I got an actual pregnancy body pillow. One thing I was looking forward to in a body pillow is the little ledge for your belly. I felt like it was sagging down and pulling on my back, like it needed support. It made a HUGE difference to have the little wedge between the bed and my belly. It felt more supported and comfortable and the light dull backache disappeared almost overnight. Aside from that, I didn’t really know what to expect in a body pillow. It took me a few days to get used to it and find the perfect position for my body.

See, I like things between my legs (hahaha- that’s what got me into this pickle). No, seriously, when I sleep on my side I almost always need something between my knees and ankles. It started when I was modeling and was so thin, it was simply uncomfortable to have no padding (read: fat) between my bones when they lay atop of each other. At this point, I am not sure if I’m just used to hugging things with my legs or bones are still an issue, but I know I’ve always needed a pillow between my legs. I find that this pillow doesn’t give me enough surface area for my long legs when sleeping in a bent position, so I still have to have an additional standard pillow between my knees. However, if you’re the kind of sleeper who doesn’t like bulky things around you, this pillow will be utter perfection. What I do like is how it’s long enough to reach my ankles and support them and thin and light enough not to make me sweaty at night. It took me a few days to find a good position for my head and now I LOVE it. The little rounded pillow at the end is supposed to support your head and I find it so cuddly and comfortable.

So my current set up is as follows: big shapeless body pillow behind me to prevent me from turning over to sleep on my back at night. MyBrestFriend pillow up front with the rounded corner under my head, belly wedge under my tummy and the bottom end of the pillow supporting my ankles, plus an additional pillow between my knees. This is THE best set up I have found and the best sleep I’ve had. I rarely wake up with back pain and if I do, it’s mostly because I turned to the other side in my sleep and somehow didn’t bring the body pillow with me.

You can win a body pillow from MyBrestFriend by entering the giveaway below.

Belly Armor

I really really wish I knew about this particular item BEFORE I got pregnant, so that I had it with me from day 1.

You know how most of our lives are spent at our computers? You’re obviously sitting at one reading this. Or you might be reading the post on your cell phone. I’m sure more than half of you work at a computer. Either way, we’re constantly exposed to low levels of radiation from all the daily items we use. The information is now coming out that cell phones used without a headset cause tumors. I haven’t heard much about laptops and desktops but I know it’s not good to have one on your lap. This has bothered me for quite a while since all of my work and most of my hobbies involve a computer. Like I said before, I am ok with taking a small risk when it comes to my own health out of laziness or whatnot, but the second we knew we were pregnant, it changed completely, because everything that I am exposed to, even in low doses could harm that little human being inside me during sensitive periods of development.

Oh how I wish I knew about the company called Belly Armor in my first trimester. They make products that protect your belly from all the radiation that we’re exposed to daily. According to their website “the past 25 years of research has evidenced several potential health hazards during pregnancy from radiation, including birth defects and genetic disruptions, miscarriages, autism, childhood leukemia, and cancer. Because scientists have shown that cell growth and DNA replication are disrupted by radiation, pregnancy and early childhood represent the highest risk for exposure.” The funding for studies like this is limited, because the effects take years to show up, so it’s almost impossible to measure, just like most research in prenatal programming and exposure, but to me as a pregnant woman, bent on protecting my child while it’s in the womb, it is a definitely step to take. Belly Armor has three products: the Belly Blanket, the Belly Tee and the Belly Band. They are made out of cotton and a RadiaShield lining that protects you against 99.9% of radiation. I even tested that. I wrapped my cell phone in the blanket and it instantly lost signal. I have both the blanket and the band.

I find the blanket perfect to have around the house. Whenever I sit down with my laptop (which I always have on a special lap pillow), I put the blanket over my belly. EVERY TIME! It just feels so good to know that Alexis is protected from radiation, something that has always been in the back of my mind up until now. The blanket comes in cute colors and has a convenient pocket for a cell phone. Before I had the blanket, I also found myself “accidentally” putting my iphone on the top of my belly (using it as a shelf) when I needed my hands free for something and then instantly realizing that and putting it aside. Now with the blanket, I can actually rest it there for a couple of seconds while I’m reaching for a glass of water or clicking a link without freaking myself out. So almost every evening, after a long day, you can see me in this position, with my laptop and my Belly Blanket

The band on the other hand is ideal if you work at a computer and can’t or don’t want to bring your blanket with you. It’s much more comfortable to have a band on when you’re sitting at the desk. It also does the double duty of supporting your belly. Sometimes, when I know I’ll be on the go all day, I just put the band on and I don’t have to worry about bringing my blanket with me. The band fits perfectly under any maternity clothes and is very inconspicuous. So I figured, if you’re gonna buy a belly band, you might as well get one with protection. I got it in a slightly bigger size knowing that in the last two months my belly will have to catch up and grow quite a bit.

I am really happy I get to use these, even though I only have a few weeks left, but I know that with the next pregnancy, I will be using both from day one. My friend whose sister is pregnant instantly ordered one as soon as she saw mine. It’d make a great gift for a pregnant woman.

To win a BellyBand or Belly Blanket, enter the giveaway below.

Organized Pregnancy

The final item that I found very useful is this book: One Year to an Organized Life with a Baby. Again, in this case I wish I had found it sooner, but better late than never. It’s a book that takes you through a whole year week by week, starting from 9 weeks pregnant to postpartum, helping you prepare everything for the arrival of the baby and the changes that will take place.

The author goes over things that need to be bought, things that could wait, places, rooms and closets that need to be organized, space that needs to be made, preparations for maternity leave and returning back to work, financial preparations- basically everything that would ideally need to be taken care of before a baby comes, without cramming it all into the last few weeks of pregnancy like we all tend to do. Each week she gives a “project”, along with valuable tips and tricks of organization. I read through to 32 weeks and have been following her advice on many levels. The book is also an AMAZING motivational tool that will get your nesting butt off the couch and itching to properly prepare for a baby! Definitely a must read, especially if you lack organization or love organizing ( both apply to me :))

BELOW ARE THE GIVEAWAY RULES
and Mandatory Entries: {read carefully}

There are two mandatory entries, after which you will have additional entries available,
and 1 daily entry for which you can come back to enter daily.
The winning entries will be verified and the winner disqualified if the action is not found or if the mandatory items are not fullfilled.
Make sure to notate how you’re following the blog in the extra info field (entry #1). The entry won’t count if that information is missing.
Please make sure to visit Mama Mio and/or MyBrestFriend and/or Belly Armor (or all three)and comment on what items you’d like to win is to be eligible to win (entry #2). The comment is to be posted to this blog post.
The giveaway is open to US residents only. See the rafflecopter widget for additional terms and conditions.
All comments will be moderated and will appear once approved.

If you have a blog, there’re 2 entries each worth 10 points ( post our button on your blog’s sidebar and blog about the giveaway)

{If you’re not sure how to use to enter, feel free to watch this video tutorial or email me at contact {at} prebabyblog {dot} com
Otherwise, make sure to read everything carefully. Click the DO IT link first, then I’VE DONE IT once the action is completed}



Disclosure: Some of the items above were sent to me for free in exchange for my honest opinion.

How To Protect Yourself From America’s ‘New’ Drinking Water Toxins

Written by Elena @The Art of Making a Baby. Posted in HEALTH

I  just read an article that I just couldn’t NOT share with you guys.

http://news.yahoo.com/protect-yourself-americas-drinking-water-toxins-132357425.html

EPA is finally tackling our tap water supply. These chemicals left unregulated by the previous administration cause thyroid problems, pre-natal and post-natal developmental problems and a slew of other issues, including cancer. Because unless you regulate for profit companies to do a good job and be safe, we’re always going to end up with unwanted health side-effects from our overly chemicalized world.

I urge you to read the article, but in short, it talks about 3 dangerous chemicals out of 6000 of toxic unregulated ones. One  causes thyroid problems, another one causes stomach, lung and liver cancer and the levels of this particular chemicals are 10 times higher in the city of Chicago than the safe standard ( the one that allows 1 cancer per million due to the chemical alone), and finally well known carcinogenic VOCs.

And while you can’t run away from every danger, there are certain easy steps most people can make to reduce the negative effects.  The first two can be removed by a reverse osmosis system, the last one by carbon filter. And was exactly the reason why we picked out this particular water filtration system  (plus it’s not too expensive)

If you haven’t read my post about the Reverse Osmosis Water Filter system we installed before I got pregnant ( or what it after?…can’t remember), check it out here

The reason why I am writing this here is because for 8 years of my adult life I was oblivious to the common dangers, ignorant and thinking I am invinsible. And while I’d still like to believe I am invinsible, reading and meeting people, who weren’t so fortunate, and planning a pregnancy made me realize how truly poisonous our world is. I will not stress out about things I can’t change, but I will definetely do all I can to make things better for me and my family and will do what I can to alert other people so that they could hopefully make the same discovery I did and most importantly make informed decisions about their health.

Safe Skin Routine for Pregnancy

Written by Elena @The Art of Making a Baby. Posted in HEALTH, Health and Fitness, My Pregnancy, PREGNANCY

Let me tell you something, ladies!

It is a BITCH to find super natural, super safe things to use when you’re pregnant ( and not). You buy teratogenically  tested line of pregnancy products and then a few weeks later, after hours of research, you realize that while they might be free of teratogens ( substances that cause birth defects), they are DEFINITELY not free from other potentially harmful toxins that didn’t make it into the teratogen list (yet), or don’t necessarily cause birth defect but have been linked with cancer or such (yikes!).

What pregnant woman in her right mind, who possesses this information would say:”Potentially carcinogenic? That’s all right! I’ll be fine and my baby will too”

So after I discovered the Good Guide ( a website that rates products based on their safety) or EWG Skin Deep, I was introduced to a whole world of “causes toxicity” and “developmental problems” and this and that. It didn’t stop there though. Good Guide apparently thinks that some ingredients are just fine, while there’s information out there about these that contradicts that. EWG Skin Deep Database is a bit more reliable in my opinion.

So there I was… on a QUEST to find the safest products I could find.

I think everyone at this point knows that parabens are bad, so I instantly excluded any product that had parabens in them ( look for methylparaben, and other words containing “paraben”). They are preservatives used in a lot of products and it’s just really really bad ( don’t want to take my word for it? google it). The sneaky part is tat fragrance/perfum might contain parabens as well, but due to trade laws, companies don’t have to disclose it.
Then I learned about Sodium Laurel Sulfate ( SLS- a chemical so strong they use it to effectively clean oil grease off the engines) – so there went all the products that had SLS ( and that’s pretty much EVERYTHING – look at your hand soap, under the first or second ingredient)…

So there I was spending hours checking drugstore.com and amazon.com for the best products according to good guide and then checking their ingredients against a few more lists.

Every time I’d think I found something, I would then discover another preservative that causes cancer or what not. And while I might be ok with a small amount of that product for myself, how could I possibly know what it could do to a tiny baby whose IMPORTANT cells are constantly dividing.

At one point I thought I found the perfect  line of products: Aubrey Organics, but the problem is they have vitamin A and as we all know, vitamin A toxicity is very much an issue. So since there’s no way for me to know HOW much vitamin A is in the product, it’s safer to avoid it. Though, as soon as vitamin A isn’t an issue ( after birth), I will definitely try Aubrey Organics – it’s a great company.

So finally, here’s what I came up with. It’s THE BEST line up I could put together. There were some other products that might have been just as good or maybe better, but they were $26-40 for a bottle of shampoo and that’s just ridiculous.
Also there were certain things I wasn’t concerned with, like warnings about ingredients that might be connected with some skin sensitivity or something like that. I basically went by what could possibly harm the baby, and not by the fact that “lemon oil makes you sneeze” ( joking of course).
Note: I also checked them against potentially harmful herbs during pregnancy.

So here is what I use now and where you can buy them:

1. HAIR TREATMENT

Burt’s Bees Pre-Shampoo hair treatment

It’s a super nice smelling avocado pre-wash. Not sure if it helps but it doubles as a really good hair product to use in dry hair and for fly aways.

2. CONDITIONER

Alba Botanica Gardenia Hydrating Hair Conditioner

Smells DELICIOUS!!! Works really well, too, compared to other organic conditioners I’ve used.

3. BODY WASH

Tom’s of Maine Natural Body Wash

Took me a while to find a reasonably cheap and safe wash. Lavender is very calming and the wash itself is, well, a good wash.

or

More recently I discovered the most amazing line of healthy skin care, Lavanila. They carry a healthy deodorant, healthy body wash, healthy body butter and even a healthy fragrance. I would definitely recommend that line over anything else that is non-pregnancy specific.

4. STRETCHMARKS OIL

Mother’s Special Blend – body/stretchmark oil and moisturizer
At first I was SUPER turned off by the smell. To me, it didn’t smell like cookies AT ALL. Plus I don’t like oil based moisturizers.
But after 3 months of searching for a moisturizer that didn’t have every single bad ingredient in the book, I gave up. This has no preservative, no chemicals,nothing but oils.
That is until I found Mama Mio Tummy Oil. This is by far the best pregnancy product out there and it smells heavenly. You can read more about it here

5. Burt’s Bees More Moisture Raspberry & Brazil Nut Shampoo

6. Burt’s Bees Super Shiny Grapefruit & Sugar Beet Conditioner

7. Weleda Almond Soothing Facial Cream

Facial creams ( along with body creams) was the hardest category to find something safe in. If it doesn’t have some harmful chemicals, it will definitely have Aloe Vera. While I love Aloe Vera in general, for pregnancy it’s one of the herbs to be careful with ( an emmenagogue (mimics hormones), teratogen and muscle relaxant). I don’t know at which point it can cause harm, but like I said before, I am not taking any chances ( a small sacrifice to make). At first I got Dr Hauschka Rose cream, but I just didn’t get into its God-awful smell and too thick texture ( was impossible to spread it out). Weleda is perfect, light but rich, smells amazing and is perfectly safe.

8. Tom’s of Maine Clean and Gentle Care

Surprisingly, toothpaste, the one thing we put into our mouths, is full of SLS. That’s pretty much how it “cleans” and foams. So we both switched to a SLS free version. Doesn’t foam as well as a traditional toothpaste, but it makes me feel 100% better, not putting a chemical that they use to clean oil grease off the engines into my mouth.

9.  Breast Firming Cream

For anything else you might need check out the safest pregnancy skin care brand (I checked their ingredients personally)- Mama Mio. You can read my review here

_______________________

We also changed our laundry detergent and dishwasher soap and detergent to a greener brand.

Hope this was helpful and will save you some agonizing over what to buy and hours of research.

 

Water Filter

Written by Elena @The Art of Making a Baby. Posted in HEALTH, My Pregnancy

I’ve been meaning to write about water quality during pregnancy and water filters for a while now.

One of the first steps we took to avoid any toxic products once we found out I was pregnant was buy a water filter. We spent a few days researching what was in our water and any risks those low levels of contaminants can pose to a fetus as well the best and cheapest water filters that would remove those contaminants.

See, most areas’ tap water contains THM ( by-product of disinfection, from what I remember), nitrates, and some even contain arsenic and lead. I pulled up the latest water quality report from our local water company ( you can also do that, or call them and they’d be happy to mail it to you). Everything seemed great in the report, the levels are well below the allow contaminant level. However there was enough there to make us want to take a precaution and buy a good water filter, rather than use an in-refrigerator one.

{to read about the effects of water contaiminants during pregnancy and in early childhood, go here}

 
After much searching hubby and I agreed on this one, since it removed everything, except for virus and bacteria, since it seems no filter that removes nitrates,arsenic,lead and such, also removes viruses and bacteria. It also removes cysts, chlorine and others.

It took hubby about an hour to install it. It comes with a faucet, so he had to drill the granite to install the faucet which was easier than expected, once he got a special diamond drill bit.

Of course, the water tastes fabulously, though the taste wasn’t our concern. Here are some of the photos from the install- we made a total mess in the kitchen while doing it, so don’t mind that.

I’m so glad we bought it and now we have it for life. I think if it wasn’t for this pregnancy, we would never do it. But apparently, the contaminants are pretty harmful to children as well, so we are happy to know it’s there for our new baby too.

.

Epigenetics and Prenatal Development

Written by Elena @The Art of Making a Baby. Posted in EVERYTHING ELSE, HEALTH, My Pregnancy, Pre-CONCEPTION

As I continue to seek out and read books about prenatal development and epigenetics ( in my words, a study of how genes get turned on and off without changing DNA during intra-uterine development), I am more and more amazed at how much we don’t know, our mothers didn’t know, and many doctors, who refuse to educate themselves, don’t know.

And in this case what we don’t know CAN hurt us and our babies.

My current read is Origins: How the Nine Months Before Birth Shape the Rest of Our Lives by Annie Murphy Paul, a scientific writer who set out to educate herself as she embarked on her second pregnancy.
I’m only on chapter 2, but it goes along the same lines Dr Verny followed in his Pre-Parenting: Nurturing Your Child from Conception.

Right now, I am reading about nutrition and how it affects the expression of genes and level of hormones. It’s actually not new to me. I read about it in my favorite pre-conception book Get Ready to Get Pregnant: Your Complete Prepregnancy Guide to Making a Smart and Healthy Baby.
It was a new concept to me at the time, that what we eat and how we eat can “program” the fetus by “turning the genes on and off”, but it turns out it’s not that uncommon of a concept in the scientific world. It’s just our real world is pretty slow to jump on the bang wagon ( as it has always been with any medical breakthrough that challenges the previous notions).

For those who are curious, just a quick example in short:

Nature made it so that the intrauterine environment “lets” the baby know of the world outside of us via hormones and a few other processes.
For example, if a mother is constantly stressed and the released cortisol crosses the placenta, the baby’s brain will be programmed for the flight-or-fight response, taking from it the fact that in the outside world, the baby will need to be quick and vigilant. The baby will come out of the womb ready for the environment that was “pre-programmed” into him, fast and unable to focus, possibly even predisposed to aggression. That’s how evolution helped our ancestors survive.
…or…
By eating lots of sugar and simple carbs that send our insulin skyrocketing (and doing it all the time), we’re “teaching” our unborn baby to become insulin resistant, so in the future he/she might have troubles keeping weight off (apparently, insulin also controls how our body stores fat). The same happens with leptin, the substance that tells us when we are full. I don’t remember the exact mechanism by which leptin resistance occurs in a unborn baby ( i think it was somehow connected with insulin as well), but it creates a human being who is unable to know when to stop eating.

On another hand, {i read in the new book} it turns out that low birth weight babies (due to malnutrition specifically, I don’t think that other reasons, like preterm birth, were included in that) suffer from the same problems as  babies born with insulin resistance- diabetes, obesity, heart disease. At first glance, it’s surprising, but before I even read the explanation for why it happens, it made perfect sense to me:

When the baby doesn’t receive enough nutrients, it learns to live on little, his body being “programmed” that food out in the real world is scare. However, when he’s born into the world of excess and processed foods, his body can’t handle it properly, having been “taught” to store every single nutrient received (kind of in the same way the fad starvation diets never work long term). I guess the effects were the worst for babies who were malnutritioned during the 2nd and 3rd trimester.
What baffled me, though, was why the heart disease? What would this have to do with the heart? The explanation was the following: by receiving few nutrients, the fetus “sends” them to the most important organ in our body, our brain, leaving other organs short of necessary food. That, later in life, came back to bite him. In addition, inability to properly control and process high fat, processed diets helped that too.  They did a study on the survivors of one winter during World War II, during which food was so scarce that most people had to live on 500 calories a day ( including pregnant women), and a tremendous amount of survivors born or conceived during that winter were obese,with diabetes and heart disease, compared to babies born during other times. Here the effects were stronger, if malnutrition happened during the first trimester, when the heart was developing {which isn’t really fair, because of morning sickness which is something that our body does to us)

There’s an amazing amount of information and studies brought up in all three books I mentioned, it’d be impossible to relay every single detail of even one example here. It’s definitely fascinating and opened my eyes on many things. Even if you’re sceptical, I’d recommend you read it, because the examples and studies brought up in the books are pretty convincing.

Either way, as I go through this, I find it slightly difficult to find a happy middle. Everywhere we turn there another advisory about what is good or bad during pregnancy. It seems like everything can influence the baby. Omegas-3s in fish are great for the brain and produces higher IQ scores, but at the same time, fish is high in mercury, exposure to which produces low IQ scores. It’s like we can’t do anything right. {btw, my personal answer to the fish dilemma are sardines- small fish that doesn’t accumulate much mercury at all and one of the best fatty fishes for Omega-3s. Canned sardines are tasty, safe and very nutritious}.

My personal dilemma has been Vitamin E. When I was preparing for pregnancy, I found one Prenatal Vitamins brand that fit what I wanted,which  was “no vitamin or mineral could exceed 100% of daily value” ( it’s amazing how many prenatal vitamins have mega doses). I was very happy about it, until I showed it to my OB, who liked it a lot too, until he saw vitamin E content- 100% of DV. Then he informed me that there have been studies that linked vitamin E consumption to heart defects. So he prescribed me a formula that had 50% of vitamin E. After I got home, I jumped online to try and research those claims. I did, in fact, find plenty of articles citing several studies in which vitamin E consumption before pregnancy and during pregnancy of as little as 2/3 of Daily Value was linked with 9 fold increased risk of heart defect.
Obviously, supplementing vitamin E was not something I wanted to do ( considering I was already eating at the point where I received everything at at least 100% from food). Vitamin E can be found in oil, nuts, but the truth is I don’t really consume oil, or products that contain oil ( processed foods), and I am not a fan of nuts ( though I do take them for their nutritional benefit).

For a bit, i wondered whether that increased risk was connected more with consumption of fatty, oily foods, rather than actual vitamin E. But of course I can’t completely discount the study based on a hunch. So I don’t supplement E, but I don’t really get much E from diet. I’m between a rock and a hard place. Hubby and I decided that we’d curb vitamin E consumption pre-pregnancy and during the 1st trimester when the heart is developing, and then ease up on that in the 2nd trimester. But I still feel uneasy about the whole situation….

GET FIT GET HEALTHY CHALLENGE WEEK 17

Written by Elena @The Art of Making a Baby. Posted in GET FIT, HEALTH, VIDEO

RULES:

1. If you haven’t yet, join the challenge here: GET FIT and GET HEALTHY
2. Every Saturday come back to The Art of Making a Baby and ShutterMama to read the tips on how to be fitter, healthier and more confident.
3. Weekly write a post about your progress, following the questionnaire below, take a self-portrait (optional) and link up with us.
4. Don’t forget to grab the GET FIT challenge button on the sidebar and display it proudly on your blog or GET FIT post.
5. Link your post with
Selfie Saturdays if you took your week’s self-portrait.

My entry for week 15

1. Height: 5’11, weight: 136 lb

2. Your fitness challenge(s) for this week: Special exercises designed for pregnancy to increase flexibility (daily) + Kegels (twice daily). An hour of walking/running + 20 situps every hour of the day

3. Your health challenge(s) for this week: Continue eating whole grains, veggies and fruits only with a few servings of kefir and sardines daily (sardines are low in dioxins and mercury)

4. How well did it go:

Fitness: I wasn’t able to work out the whole week for for very good reasons. So i don’t feel too bad about it.
Water: Drinking 64 oz a day
Food: Still not eating any sweets for some reason. Even my granola cereal without any added sugar tastes too sweet. I have been going crazy when it comes to potato chips (kettle cooked salt and pepper only) and roasted potatoes. I’ve been good about not allowing too much of them. Also I’ve been entering all the food I eat into a tracking website and making sure that all my vitamins, minerals, omega 3s and protein were at 100% or above. And I can proudly say I’ve exceeded 100% on most nutrients (except for zinc) and protein.
5. Failures and slip-ups: I’d say kettle cooked potato chips. I tend to eat about a serving or two of them a day, which is fine since I don’t eat ANY sweets at all. Otherwise, no complaints.

7. Advice to fellow GET FIT members: Honestly, I think I’ve given everything I have for now.

8. Self Portrait: This week’s challenge was a STOP MOTION VIDEO and I had so much fun making it!






Pregnancy Safe Products – Face Wash, Exfoliator and Sunblock- LOVED ‘EM!

Written by Elena @The Art of Making a Baby. Posted in EVERYTHING ELSE, HEALTH, My Pregnancy, Pre-CONCEPTION

One of the first challenges I encountered while getting ready to get pregnant were the toxins and teratogens all around us. I mean, EVERYTHING is made out of chemicals nowadays. And since certain chemicals and toxins can adversly affect a fetus, it was important for me to switch to everything natural and toxin free.

It wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be.
I started with cleaning supplies, which we switched to 7th generation ones –  they smelled interesting and strong (herbs and lemon) and cleaned decently but not as well as full on chemical stuff.
I went to organic shampoos – I loved the feel and the smell and the idea that they’re all natural, but to be honest, the shampoo just didn’t clean as well, and the conditioner didn’t make my hair as soft as the typical brands.
I bought a zinc oxide sunblock, but it only came in a white cream that was really hard to put on.

Let me just say I wasn’t too happy about these changes, but a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do, right?

I was still looking for a good facial SPF, moisturizer,body wash, face wash,etc.

A few months ago I became a part of a new affiliate programs and as I was going through different online stores, I bumped into Belli Skin Care. I would have probably passed them by if not for  the word “teratology screened”.
“Oh!”- I thought.

I have never seen a skin care care line SPECIFICALLY tested against teratogens, phthalates, BPA, parabe, artificial dyes, etc. Before I knew about nsBelli, i had attempted to research this on my own, emailing my favorite brands for a list of ingredients and then cross checking them against known problem agents. eventually I gave up, because it was too much work. I knew just going natural and organic wasn’t going to do it, because there’re quite a few natural things that can cause birth defects, like aloe vera, rosemary, glycolic acid, salicylic acid, vitamin A. The problem with something as minor as personal care is it seems like it’s too much work for a relatively low risk. Some people think that there’s a placental barrier to protect the baby from toxins, however the barrier only keeps larger molecules away, like bacteria, but lets some others through with no problem.
So needless to say, I kept postponning ordering something for when I am pregnant, because it was just too hard.

After reading more about Belli products I was sold on the concept. They also carry maternity skin care lines, breastfeeding lines, and baby care, each specifically designed to protect us and our babies from toxins at different times of our lives. I will definitely be using other products when I breastfeed and for the baby. You can get a Stretch Mark Minimizing cream if you already have them, or Belly Oil, if you want to prevent them

So I placed an order for an Acne Wash, a SPF25 facial sunscreen and an Exfoliator. To be honest, I was expecting one of those organic products that might be safe for my baby, but does pretty much nothing for me. Boy, was I pleasantly surprised. I got my package yesterday morning and last night I took a shower to try them out (oh come on! Don’t you get all excited when you buy new products? Except for I was expecting it to be something like that organic fragrance free soup I bought from Whole Foods- UGH!).

I LOVED IT!

I soooooo didn’t expect this reaction, but I loved all three products!
1. Ache Wash smelled like lemons and cleaned my face so well, but without stripping it, that when I got out of the shower it looked like I applied one of those primers that you put under make up to make your skin smooth and soft. I couldn’t believe it!
2. The exfoliator was one of those super fine particle exfoliator and did an amazing job without irritating my skin
3. The Anti-Cloasma had a little bit of a tint to it ( which usually annoys me because it tends to be darker than my skin) and went on smooth and nice and didn’t look like I had anything on.

So I have to say I was pleasantly surprised. I will be ordering shampoo and conditioner from Belli as well, in hopes of getting something that works better than other organic shampoos.

If any of you guys are interested, there’s a coupon for 15% OFF  right now. Just use the code: 15BELLI

Just wanted to mention that I wasn’t compensated in any way to write about these products, or anything like that. I just spent so many hours researching safe products and trying to decide what to buy that I hope this would make it easier for some of you who are pregnant, trying to get pregnant, are breastfeeding or just want safe baby skin care.

Since Belli doesn’t carry any facial moisturizers, I will be ordering mine from Beauty.com, they have a massive section of natural skin care and make up, plus right now there’s 2 promotions going on that I want to take advantage of:
1.  New Customers – get $5 off $35 or $10 off $70 on your first Beauty.com order! and
2. Get a free Lela Rose Designer Bag + deluxe samples ($140 value!) with your $100 Beauty.com order! While supplies last.

 

On another personal note, I am feeling fabulous and happy and just having the best time of my life. So many things I want to be doing and never enough time to do it.
So right now I am off to make a salad, play some drums and maybe go for a walk. Hope your Sunday is just as relaxing.

Oh, two new things:
I got a Facebook Page for the blog, feel free to like it if you want
I might start taking pictures of the meals I make and posting them here. I way too impatient to actually write recipes, but I might be able to take  the time to post photos only. Too many people have requested that, so I think it’ll be helpful for those trying to eat healthy/vegetarian/vegan. Let me know what you think.

RAW OR COOKED? – GET FIT GET HEALTHY GET CONFIDENT WEEK 16

Written by Elena @The Art of Making a Baby. Posted in Cooking, EVERYTHING ELSE, GET FIT, HEALTH, PHOTO

RULES:

1. If you haven’t yet, join the challenge here: GET FIT and GET HEALTHY
2. Every Saturday come back to The Art of Making a Baby and ShutterMama to read the tips on how to be fitter, healthier and more confident.
3. Weekly write a post about your progress, following the questionnaire below, take a self-portrait (optional) and link up with us.
4. Don’t forget to grab the GET FIT challenge button on the sidebar and display it proudly on your blog or GET FIT post.
5. Link your post with
Selfie Saturdays if you took your week’s self-portrait.

RAW OR COOKED?

I’d like to share something I recently found out about nutrients of certain vegetables. I was always under the impression that if you cook vegetables, you basically effectively eliminating all the good nutrients and vitamins from them, so it’s best to eat msot vegetables raw or lightly sauteed. However, it turns out it’s not true for all the vegetables, actually quite the opposite for some of them.

Check out the nutrition breakdown:

Broccoli and spinach , if eaten raw your body will absorb less than 5% of the nutrition for which you are eating them . With the exception of lettuce all the green leafy veggies must be heated. This is the only way to release the vitamin E and the Iron for your body to get at it . If eaten raw your body will get neither of those and only a small portion of the flavonoids . The calcium can be retrieved without heating .
Tomatoes if eaten raw your body can only acquire the vitamin C . The main nutrition you eat a tomato for is the lycopene! This is the enzyme in the tomato that gives it the red color.”

So green leafy vegetables? HEAT! Kale, spinach, collard greens. have an amazing spicy kale stew recipe that I really need to share with you guys.

 My entry for week 15

1. Height: 5’11″, weight: 136 lb

2. Your fitness challenge(s) for this week: Special exercises designed for pregnancy to increase flexibility (daily) + Kegels (twice daily). An hour of walking/running + 20 situps every hour of the day 

3. Your health challenge(s) for this week: Continue eating whole grains, veggies and fruits only with a few servings of kefir and sardines daily (sardines are low in dioxins and mercury)

4. How well did it go:

  • Fitness: Did really good. I am feeling good and motivated, taking my time to do exercises rather than rush through them
  • Water: Drinking 64 oz a day
  • Food: I have this strange sweets aversion this week. I didn’t have ANYTHING sweet AT ALL. Eating really well otherwise: lots of beans, salads and vegetables with fruits.
     

5. Failures and slip-ups: Nothing really. I am very happy with this week6. Weekly challenge wisdom: Sometimes we get caught up and want to do things other than working out, but I found if you let yourself know that this hour is for exercising and that’s how it’s going to be, you take your time and actually enjoy it, rather than rush through it to be done for the day.

7. Advice to fellow GET FIT members
: Is your partner helping you and supporting you in your quest to be healthier and fitter? If not, you need to get him to be on the same page with you. it’s so much more fun to eat well and exercise when you don’t have to accomodate someone else in their eating or couch habits.

8. Self Portrait: This week Selfie challenge was  Collaborations. We were to hook up with one of our bloggy friends and do a photo together, even though we might be 3000 miles away from each other. Here’s what Teagan and I came up with. I think the tagline is really fitting :)