Since getting pregnant with my first daughter over 8 years ago (!) and now heading into my 4th birth at the end of this year (!), I have been collecting resources regarding healthy pregnancies, natural childbirth, the initial parenting years, and all manner of controversial stuff that you never knew was a part of having children – until you started having children. And because of my fascination and promotion of these subjects from an alternative, non-mainstream slant, I continually get emails from
newly pregnant family, friends, and acquaintances asking for a variety of resources. So I have finally decided to add it to this blog in its ever-changing form.
So enjoy this overwhelming, yet finite list of baby interesting-ness and please add your favorite go-to resources in the comments below.
Okay, so prepare yourself for “Mel’s overwhelming all-things-pregnancy/baby email” that I have put together over the years from getting lots of emails like yours from various friends/family. Sharing information and resources is one of my love languages, so thanks for asking. The info is a little patchy b/c it’s from a few different emails and it’s WAY more info then you have (probably) asked for, but I find that it’s helpful to be aware of what’s coming and you’ll be surprised how fast the pregnancy goes.
Read it all, don’t read it at all, take some advice, don’t take any – it’s totally up to you. Just know that there is no way to be a perfect pregnant lady, mom, etc. and God’s grace is enough. This is truly a time of joy and celebration, so don’t let the evil one steal your joy by feeling guilty about not doing everything right. Just be a good steward to the best of your ability and circumstance, follow the Spirit and God will cover the rest. Can you tell I’ve learned a lot over the past 8 years?! 😉
Alright, girl, are you ready?! Hang on to your Ergo straps!
My only experience with observing pregnancy and birth was hearing a few details from friends that I worked with from a pretty conventional point of view. Beginning to grow into a more naturally-minded person just before my childbearing years, I had an inkling that I wanted to do things more naturally. But running across the book, Breastfeeding and Natural Child Spacing by Sheila Kippley, at the local maternity center library was an educational turning point for me. It’s kind of an odd title, but it sets forth a way of looking at pregnancy, birth, nursing, and child rearing in a way I had never heard or thought of before.
And here’s an article on doing things more like traditional cultures did. It is COMPLETELY different than what you will hear from mainstream sources, but has some interesting ideas to consider. It will rock your world, so take it a bit at a time. And you definitely have to run it through your God-filter as some of it can be a bit new-agey.
I am a lay nutrition nerd, and much of the impetus for this (other than sharing the genes of a grandma who grew wheatgrass before it was cool and a mom who fed us rice crackers before “gluten-intolerance” was acknowledged) has been wanting to nourish and feed my children well – particularly while they are in the womb. I have landed on the simple philosophy of eating real food, including foods that traditional cultures have been eating for centuries.
And in regards to where to find all this healthy pregnancy food, I get mine from a food drop where you order on-line and pick up on Thursday afternoons. It may be a different day for the ones in your area, but the best way to find out is to contact the closest chapter leader to you and then get the info from them. You should be able to find some stuff at local farmer’s markets, natural food stores and online.
Nourishing Our Children is a great resource for nourishing ourselves and our children pre-conception, during pregnancy, and beyond.
And most people know not to smoke, drink or take drugs during pregnancy, but sugar is still socially acceptable. It’s terrible for our health in general, but particularly during pregnancy. Here’s a detailed reminder of why sugar sucks. (BTW, I’ve been known to have a few sips of alcohol during my pregnancy without fear – cultures all over the world have been drinking wine like water since the get go. Also, I eat mostly unrefined sugar and refined sugar in small doses and follow the advice that “when you pollute, dilute.” As well, I try to eat probiotic rich foods at every meal. Will be posting on that soon…)
In regards to a list of easy, nutrient-dense snacks that you can pack for work (and hopefully you have a place to refrigerate some stuff): raw cheese (I live off the stuff), hardboiled organic eggs with sea salt, glass of whole fat raw milk (don’t worry, it’s safe!), meat jerkies, whole fat plain yogurt (add frozen fruit for sweetness), crispy nuts, sourdough bread with lots of organic butter, olives (watch out for chemical preservatives!), anything with coconut (health food stores carry Jennie’s macaroons and they’re a great healthy sweet fix), canned sardines (look for BPA-free brands), avocados with gluten-free crackers, fresh organic fruits and veggies, dips with good fat (hummus, pesto, tapenade, organic nut butters, guacamole, etc.) and healthy bars for on the go. It probably sounds like you’re going to blow up like a balloon if you eat like this, but it’s the refined carbs and sugar that really get ya. You’ll also feel more full with nutrient dense stuff then you will from downing a bag of chips.
For prenatal vitamins, I would recommend whole food based brands like Garden of Life, Rainbow Light, or New Chapter. (I learned to trust these three brands while working in the Whole Foods vitamin department when I was pregnant with my first child.)
High vitamin Cod Liver Oil is the best supplement you can take for baby and Green Pasture is where I get mine. (They are not all created equal.) It’s an investment, but if you buy 12 bottles at a time you get a discount and can split the order with other CLO ingesting friends.
If you are not already, start eating fermented foods with lots of probiotics (yogurt, homemade sauerkraut, raw milk, etc) as your body is more prone to infection (yeast, sinus, etc.) I also take a good supplement just to be sure. I like Garden of Life brand and found the cheapest option at VitaCost.
Also, liver has a been considered a sacred food for centuries. When I was pregnant with my second babe, I bought grassfed, clean cow liver, cut it up into very small pieces, froze it for two weeks (to get rid of any unwanted bacteria) and then swallowed it like vitamins. It is one of the best foods you can eat and will give you and the babe lots of iron and Vitamin A. It’s also a known energy booster. I know it sounds crazy to eat raw liver, but many cultures have done it for decades. And I actually did it through the first few months of this pregnancy and noticed a significant decrease in morning sickness – something about B6 vitamins…
Here’s a great source regarding herbs for pregnancy, and it’s caused me to start drinking more nettles tea and up my red raspberry leaf and alfalfa capsules. As well, there’s a great herbal supplement that I took in the last 5 weeks of my pregnancy helped TREMENDOUSLY with blood loss (which I had struggled with on the first 2) I took it with Noelle and after too much bleeding with the first two, I did so much better! And at $32 total, it’s a great deal. Seriously the best bang for your buck. Childbirth Solutions is a great website and here she mentions what herbs to avoid during pregnancy as well.
I have gotten through a number of infections and sicknesses with a variety of home remedies . Antibiotics can start you and baby on a bad cycle of infection and sickness, so it’s important to avoid them as much as possible. I have a natural antibiotic that I make as well as a neti pot for sinus infections, garlic and boric acid suppositories for yeast infections, coconut oil or gentian violet for thrush, garlic and mullein ear drops or colloidal silver for baby’s ear infection, etc. Just know that medicines are not your only option for these things (though there is a place for them) and that the mainstream medical community does not know and/or does not inform you about the long-term risks of the antibiotics that they pass out like candy.
I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to be educated about birth, particularly if this is your first one. It is very easy for a normal, low-risk birth to turn into a c-section based on a series of seemingly insignificant circumstances and decisions – i.e. when your water breaks, pitocin and labor induction, position of the baby, etc.
Though birthing at home is safe for low risk pregnancies, it still freaks some folks out. (For an understanding of the risks of hospital birth, check out The Business of Being Born.) If you are brave enough to consider homebirth, then read Ina May‘s Guide to Childbirth. She’s definitely an “earth mama” and it has great tips and information, plus interesting birth stories. One of my favorite Ina May tips, that kept me from tearing when my last two babies came out was clitoral stimulation. I know, TMI!!! BUT it brings blood into the cervical area which enables it to stretch better as well as lubricates the birth canal. Gasp all you want, but when you try it (and you are willing to try anything when faced with “the ring of fire“) you will thank me. And I say in advance, you’re welcome. ‘Cause I know your mama didn’t tell ya ’bout that!
If you still want a natural birth but are not ready to do it at home, then consider a birth center. They are a great in between option that are usually more naturally minded than hospitals, but still offer the back up support that people find comforting about a hospital setting.
If you are headed the hospital route, know that hospitals very widely in the friendliness toward natural birth. Be sure to educate yourself, ask good questions (including what their c-section percentage rates are or how often women birth naturally there), go in with a firm and written birth plan, and be prepared to articulate it. You may also want a birth advocate like a doula as well. I particularly recommend this for your first time as it’s invaluable to have someone advocate for you so you and your husband can just experience the birth together. As well, you are less likely to get the eye roll from a grumpy nurse or Mr. OB (who has never given birth himself, BTW) who thinks you are just being a wuss and don’t know what you are talking about.
Alright this is taking much longer to update than I expected – why am I shocked by this? – so I am chopping it into 2 parts so I can get something on the blog. Head on over to Part 2!
Next up: Breastfeeding, Attachment Parenting, Babywearing, and Eating Your Placenta. (WHAT?!?! Shesourceful? Shecrazy!)
Please share your favorite natural pregnancy and birth resources below.