Thursday, March 18, 2010

Herbal Baby Bath

© threelittlecupcakes
Taking an herbal bath together is a wonderful way to bond with your baby. And it's really quite easy and quick to make. You'll need herbs of your choice, a little muslin bag or a long clean sock, and about five minutes of prep time before you run the bath.

Choose dried, fragrant organic herbs from your garden or local herb store. Some mild baby-friendly herbs include chamomile, lemon balm, calendula, rose petals, lavender, spearmint and peppermint. You can add a bit of oatmeal to soften the water and your skin if you like.

Mix the herbs together in a bowl, the oatmeal if using, and then scoop about two tablespoons of the mixture into the bag or sock. Tie a knot in the sock or bag - unless you would like the herbs floating in the bath (which is pretty to look at, but kind of annoying to clean). Tuck the extra herbs into a container to use next time.

Run a warm, but not hot bath, and soak the bag of herbs in the water. Squeeze a few times to release the fragrance. Get in the bath and relax with your baby. Take extra care if you use the oatmeal - it makes the bath and the baby a tad slippery!

Enjoy your bath together...

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

I have faith of the heart, strength of the soul & can reach any star...

Only moments old...
Eight years ago at this exact time, I gave birth my to my gorgeous baby girl...

My labor began late at night, or rather, early in the morning just around one. The birth pangs pulled gently at first and I remember thinking... I remember this now.

I simply allowed the early rushes to run through me, and let them run their course. This was my last time to be totally alone with my baby... to have her to myself. I sat and rocked with her still deep in my belly in the near dark. Quietly alone.

As my labor began to change, I began humming my birth mantra. Bits from a song from a television show. Star Trek: Enterprise to be exact. A song widely considered to be incredibly cheesy. But no matter, the lyrics simply worked for me and thus I claimed them as my own...

It's been a long road
getting from here to there
It's been a long time,
but my time is finally here
And I can feel the change in the wind right now
Nothing's in my way
And they're not gonna hold me down no more
No, they're not gonna hold me down...

'Cause I've got faith of the heart
I'm going where my heart will take me
I've got faith to believe
I can do anything...
I have strength of the soul,
No one's gonna bend or break me
I can reach any star
I've got faith...
I've got faith, faith of the heart...

All through my labor I sang this silently to myself. I toned. I moved. I stayed still. I did exactly what my body needed to do to birth my daughter. I pushed her out, gathered her up in my arms with the help of my midwife and husband and pulled her up to my chest.


I sat in my birth bubble and noticed nothing outside of it. I discovered for myself that she was a girl by uncovering her and admiring her lovely, sweet little body. We cuddled for what seemed like hours and I felt the natural high that only natural childbirth feels like. I was a birthing goddess and birthed my daughter in the dawn of the day. As I held her in my arms for the first time, snow fell silently outside. It was a perfect moment, frozen in time and etched forever into my memory.

Now that nine and a half pound baby is eight years old. While sometimes I miss the baby and wonder where she went, I remind myself to enjoy this stage of motherhood. She's artistic and self-assured. She corrects me every time she has the chance. She loves to practice hand-writing and loves to read. She loves her Beaver Colony and sings in the choir. She wants to do everything. And I couldn't be more proud of her.

My husband gave me two silver rings made by Delias Thompson last year. One reads: faith of the heart and the other: strength of the soul. They have been my mantra everyday for eight years. For Mother's Day, I think I will gift myself with a third: I can reach any star...

Happy Birth Day my sweet girl!

Tell me about your birth song,

Monday, March 15, 2010

New Moon on Monday...

© wanderingnome
Today is the beginning of the new moon and technically it means that the moon - in its monthly orbit - is between the earth and the sun and therefore is not visible to us. The few days before are known as the dark moon.

If we ovulate during the full moon, then we bleed during the new moon. It is a time to renew energy and interests, new beginnings, a time to plant seeds for your intentions, your dreams and desires for the next 28 days.

So, today take some time today and think about what you would like to manifest. Write it down and give it power. Maybe light a candle and meditate for a few minutes on your goals, whatever they might be. Write your own affirmation using an "I" statement, and say it out loud. Everyday.

Whatever you dream and believe, you can conceive. An idea, a goal, a dream, or even a child. Work with your affirmation over the next two weeks and see what happens. Feel free to share your affirmations, goals and thoughts here...

New moon blessings,

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Garlic Lemonade

Pregnant and feel a cold coming on? Then try this remedy as suggested by Aviva Jill Romm in her excellent The Natural Pregnancy Book: Herbs, Nutrition and Other Holistic Choices. I highly recommend this book for all pregnant women who are looking for a natural, holistic approach to their pregnancy.

Garlic steeping in recycled jar.
Garlic Lemonade by Aviva Jill Romm

Steep 4 to 6 cloves of chopped raw garlic in 1 quart boiling water (cover the jar while you steep) for 30 minutes. Then add the juice of 1 or 2 lemons and honey or maple syrup to taste. Drink warm, up to 1 cup every two hours. If you don't find this tea palatable, try steeping the garlic as above, but add a couple of bouillon cubes or 1 tablespoon of miso to the tea instead of lemon and honey. This is a warming tea if you have chills but can be used at any time of year.

I have made this wonderful tea for years, both when pregnant and not. I make it every time someone in my family is coming down with a cold, and this year, even my picky four-year old will drink it and they all believe it makes them feel better, although the two younger ones still prefer theirs cold. I've just made it again this afternoon, as another cold hits our house. Me, yet again. Sigh...

Wellness blessings,

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Sneak Peak Saturday...

Look what I found in my little nest in the window... beautifully-carved gemstone goddesses in lots of shapes & colors. Some with pregnant bellies, some with ample breasts for nursing wee ones, some with detailed nipples and all with cute little bums!

Look for them in my new Etsy shop starting on Monday, March 22nd. Which one is calling to you?

Fertile blessings,

Friday, March 12, 2010

Welcome earthside little one... I am your mama.

© chinycjo
The first moments after birth are truly an amazing and almost surreal experience... all the time you spent wondering how this moment would unfold, what your baby would look like and what she would really be like are answered, or are starting to be.

After the excitement of labor and birth winds down, claim this invaluable time to yourselves. Dim the lights, pull soft blankets around the two of you, and just be together. Explore every inch. Cuddle. Kiss. Listen. Remember...

As you stare deeply into one another's eyes, you'll be amazed at how your baby really looks like he's done this all before. That she knows something you don't. Whisper a greeting in your newborn's ear... Welcome earthside, little one. I'm so happy to be your mama.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

I am juicy and ripe to conceive!

© Vanessa Pike-Russell
Did you know that pomegranates are an ancient symbol of fertility, birth and eternal life in many cultures? And no wonder, since when you break it apart, the juicy red seeds spill out in abundance.

Nutritionally, pomegranate juice contains lots of folic acid - which is one of the most important nutrients for preventing neural tube defects in babies and is required daily before conception. And at least one study suggests that it may increase sperm count and motility - in laboratory rats at least.

Experts in Feng Shui also recommend pomegranates for fertility, and suggest that placing four of them on the corners of your bed and one in the middle (when you are not actually sleeping in your bed) will enhance your chances of conceiving.

And you can also harness the power of pomegranates through flower essences. Pomegranate flower essence is said to help balance the female reproductive system, and assist with any issues surrounding sexuality and motherhood.

So, if you are trying to conceive, consider the fruitful pomegranate and think juicy thoughts. And yes, there is a double-meaning in that...

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

My uterus is powerful and strong and safe.

© nic_finno 
Particularly apt as a VBAC (Vaginal Birth After Cesarean) affirmation, your uterus really is quite incredible! Pear-shaped and composed of smooth muscle, during pregnancy it stretches to accommodate your growing baby. By birth it can contain up to 1000 times its former capacity (hello baby, placenta & waters) and can go from weighing approximately 2.5oz (70g) to 40oz (1180g).

It gears up for birth by tightening - seemingly randomly - which you feel as Braxton-Hicks contractions. And then during the big event, these contractions become incredibly strong and intensely powerful as together you push your baby into the world.

After birth, it begins to contract again (these are after-pains and they can be very intense especially in second and later births) and begins the journey to its pre-pregnancy size. In a week, it's about half the size it was at the peak, by two weeks it can barely be felt and by six weeks, it should be back to its regular, pre-pregnancy self.

So, take a minute to appreciate and admire everything your uterus does during pregnancy. It is powerful and strong and safe... and so are you.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Moonwise Monday: Washable Menstrual Pads...

Lunapads Leopard Print

Did you know that approximately 14 billion menstrual pads and tampons end up in landfills every year? Or that they may contain chemical residues including dioxin? Did you know that there are alternatives to using rough plastic-feeling pads with sticky sides that often end up sticking to your sensitive skin and hair instead of your panties?

Welcome to the wonderful world of washable cloth menstrual pads! They are good for your body, are soft and absorbent, and are good for the earth, too.

Naturally Hip Bamboo Pads
I have been using cloth pads regularly for nearly eight years now, though sometimes I also use my Divacup and very rarely, unbleached disposables. Back in my early twenties, I tried an early version of reusable pads - with a velcro closure and uncomfortable nylon on the bottom. They scratched, chafed and drove me crazy. I ditched them before two cycles had finished. But after the birth of my daughter I found that things had really changed. I found some Lunapads in my local health food store, and have never looked back. I've added to my stash over the years and have pads from at least 10 different places - Etsy is such a wonderful place - and when I find a new one in a pattern I simply adore I snatch it up quickly.

They're relatively easy to care for, and can last up to five years or even longer. Most of my eight year old pads are in great condition. They need to be changed approximately every few hours just like disposables. You can simply rinse them out then & there in the sink and throw them into the washing machine right away, or many women like to soak them first - either in the sink or a bucket - and you can even use this rich, crimson water to feed your plants. If you're concerned with stains, you can use a biodegradable stain remover, but remember these are meant to be bled on, so does it really matter?

Sustainable Cycles Earth Goddess Pad
There are so many different kinds of pads on the market. The all-in-one styles (my current favorite at the moment) are just what they sound like: a one piece pad with no liners, and fasten with a snap underneath your panties. The type that Lunapads make have liners on the top, which are held in place with two bands of rick-rack. A great advantage of this type is that you can simply change the liners most of the time, and change the pad less often. A third type is a pad with inserts which tuck up underneath the main pad like a pillowcase. This allows extra padding during heavy flow, and less when it's a light day. It's your choice!

How do you get started? Take a look at what's available - there are so many styles and so many fabrics including organic cotton and silky-soft bamboo - and order just one to try it out. If you're trying cloth pads for the first time, you could start by using them at home, perhaps at night to see how you like them. Some women use them solely at night. There are pantyliners, day-use, night-use and postpartum pads, and some even made for young women who are just starting to get their periods. You can find styles for any type of flow. I have a mix of just about everything.

Do they leak? Not usually. I'd be lying if I said they never leak, and for the most part, my washable pads hardly ever leak. And when they do, it usually means that I should have changed the pad a bit earlier. This happens with disposables, too. Some washables have a PUL lining sewn into the body of the pad which helps prevent leaks.

Are they sanitary? Of course! You wash your underwear don't you? Same thing. And for the record - those bleached-white disposables that are individually-wrapped with ten tons of packaging, are not sterilized.

Where do you get these fabulous pads? You can get cloth pads at many health food stores, natural women's clothing stores (hemp stores in particular seem to carry them) and my favorite place is online! Here are a few of my favorites:
  • Sustainable Cycles - non-profit with unique & soft bamboo pads
  • Lunapads - with liners, organic & regular cotton, DivaCup & more
  • Gladrags - insert style in many fabrics, including organic
  • Mamaelle - carries Many Moons (with inserts), oils & treats
  • CountyClothCreations - fabulous Etsy shop with colorful all-in-ones
  • Naturally Hip - another fantastic Etsy shop with bamboo pads
I challenge you to try just one during your next cycle and become a moonwise woman...

Friday, March 5, 2010

As I nurse my baby, I nurture us both, in body, mind & spirit.

© Matteo Bagnoli
Breast feeding is such a unique relationship. Lactation professionals refer to a nursing mama and baby as a nursing dyad - two people involved in an ongoing, interactive relationship. Which describes nursing so accurately. She demands and nurses more, and you supply to feed her demand.

But it's not solely about nutrition. As you sit and nurse, you both relax into each other. He looks up at you as you gaze down at him, and you nurture each other ~ body, mind and soul. A drop of milk escapes from his sweet little satisfied mouth and then he drifts off to sleep. Perfectly content in this perfect, symbiotic relationship...

Isn't breastfeeding simply amazing?

Thursday, March 4, 2010

I co-create new life... I am blessed.

© unfurl
When we are pregnant, we are the co-creators of life. Never in our lives can we feel so close to the divine as during these nine months. From the positive pregnancy test to the first little flutters of life, and the beginning pangs of labor on the threshold of birth...

Treasure each and every day of your pregnancy. Honor and celebrate yourself and your baby. Each little movement your baby makes is an amazing, everyday miracle. A blessing.

Feel blessed, and know you are...

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Postpartum Recipe: Wild Mama Chicken Soup!

One of the best things you can do to prepare for postpartum while you're pregnant and nesting is to make some freezer-friendly meals beforehand. Soups, stews, lasagne, chili and beans are all good choices. I'll be posting some of my favorite postpartum recipes over the next little while, and this first recipe is an easy-to-make, simple nourishing soup that freezes really well. I make it at least once-a-month (twice-a-month in the cooler months) and always have some on-hand in individual portions in the freezer. It's perfect if someone gets sick, or just wants something hot and satisfying. My children all love it! Serve with buns, crackers or fresh-made bread (made by someone else during postpartum, of course)...

Wild Mama Chicken Soup

1 cup uncooked brown rice
1/2 TBS  olive oil
3 cloves garlic (less or more to your taste)
1 yellow onion
4 medium carrots
3 celery stalks (preferably with leaves)
1/2 TBS olive oil
2-3 chicken breasts - skinless, boneless cut in small cubes
8 cups chicken stock (your own or low-sodium organic)
1 tsp dried dill
1/2 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp salt (optional)
1 cup dried macaroni or 2 cups rotini

  1. Cook the brown rice in 2 cups water (bring to a boil, add rice, turn heat down to minimum and cook for approximately 45 minutes).
  2. Mince the garlic, and chop the onion, carrots & celery into small pieces.
  3. Saute the veggies in the olive oil in a large soup pot until the onions are soft - about 10 minutes. Stir frequently. Add a bit of stock if needed to prevent the veggies from sticking to the pot.
  4. Cut up the chicken into tiny cubes, and add to the cooked veggies. Stir as the chicken turns white and cook about 2-3 minutes.
  5. Add the chicken stock, dill and salt & pepper. Simmer for 30 minutes. 
  6. When the rice is finished cooking add it to the pot.
  7. Meanwhile, in a separate pot, cook the pasta according to the directions.
  8. At the end of the 30 minutes of simmering, add the cooked pasta & simmer 10 more minutes and then serve or cool for freezing.
Makes approximately 12 servings (3 quarts) of soup that is almost stew-like thick. If you like thinner soup, add another 3-4 cups of stock while cooking, but you can always add extra stock after freezing. Enjoy!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

My baby is the perfect size for me.

© InnocentEyez
Ask any new mama about her baby and after boy or girl, the next question is almost always: how big was your baby? While the average baby is about 7 to 8 pounds, remember that you can give birth to almost any size baby because that is what your body was meant to do!

Did you know that ultrasounds at the end of pregnancy are notoriously incorrect for accurately estimating baby's size? They can be wrong by as much as 1.5 pounds or more! A skilled caregiver who palpates your belly is often way more accurate at estimating the weight of your baby.

But no matter what size your baby is, he or she is the perfect size for you...

Monday, March 1, 2010

Red Tent Tips...

It's Moonwise Monday, so I gathered a few of my favorite Red Tent Tips to share...
  • Make a Moontime Tea of equal parts dried chamomile, lemon balm and passionflower. Use about a tablespoon of herbs per cup and steep for 10 minutes, add a dab of honey (or not). Delicious!
  • Buy yourself a luxurious thick, deep red, cotton bath towel to use just during your menstrual bleed.
  • Try washable cloth pads instead of environmentally and body-unfriendly disposables. If you're hesitant, try just one for a few hours and see if you can feel the difference. Soft cotton or bamboo beats the heck out of sticky tabs & that horrid plastic-feel.
  • Take a mini-retreat each cycle - lock the door, read a book, light candles, take a bath & renew yourself. Even if it's only for 20 minutes.
  • Try the chocolate & raspberry PMS Potion. Yummy!
  • Moon Cycle Oil: 10 drops of geranium, 12 drops of lavender, 8 drops of mandarin & 5 drops clary sage in 4oz (125 mls) of almond oil. Use as a massage oil or a few teaspoons in the bath. Enjoy!
Do you have any Red Tent Tips to share? Please feel free to post yours in the comments! Have a Moonwise Monday...
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