Labor Tricks: Side-Lying Release

During my first birth, my water broke before I was in labor…

Unlike what the movies tell you, this only happens in about 10% of births. It’s not common, but it did happen to my mother so I was worried it would also happen to me. And once my doctor found out I was GBS+ and needed antibiotics in labor, it basically became my nightmare scenario because I would need to go to the hospital right away instead of getting to labor at home as long as possible like I wanted.


I’ll share her birth story soon, but for now what you need to know is that after my water broke and we headed to the hospital my ahhh-mazing doula had us walking, and climbing stairs, and walking some more, and climbing stairs two by two and it worked… kinda.


I was definitely having contractions, but nothing crazy was happening.


UNTIL…


My ahhh-mazing nurse (it’s great to have a birth team full of superstars) did the Spinning Babies Side-lying Release on me while I was sitting for my second round of antibiotics.


Three contractions on each side and there would be no more walking the halls that day… I was in full blown active labor after that.


So What Does It Do?


Side-lying release helps correct possible imbalances in the pelvis, which can help make more room for baby to move into a better position and lengthen your pelvic floor muscles so baby came move down during birth. All of that can increase labor progress and reduce pain.


When To Use It

With my clients, I recommend they do this twice a week in the weeks leading up to birth to get baby in an optimal position for labor and to prepare their bodies for birth.  


Side-lying release can also be used to try to start labor when your overdue (though that isn’t always very success), if labor stalls, you’re having contractions without progress, your feeling pain in your pelvis, hips, or back, or if baby is malpositioned. (Even the slightest tilt in baby’s head can make all the difference in progress.)


If you’re in a hospital setting and baby is being monitored, you can listen for a whooshing sound to hear baby “spinning” and making moves when done correctly.


When SHOULDN’T you use this technique.

The side-lying release is generally throughout pregnancy and labor, but if you notice any bleeding (other than bloody show), are having cramps that are not clearly contractions or a part of labor, have had hip surgery, or if labor is progressing quickly then you should avoid this technique.



I use this technique at most births, especially when labor seems like it can use a pick-me-up or if it seems more painful than it “should” be for how far along someone is. I’ve seen it work absolute magic and I’ve seen it do a whole lotta nothin’, but the beauty of the side-lying release is that it really doesn’t hurt to try!


So grab a partner and try it today (as long as you don’t meet any of the criteria above)… see how it feels. Do you love it or hate it?


Already had a baby? Did you do this in labor? Did it hurt, help, or do nothing?

Let me know!

The 7 Best Exercises For Pregnancy

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Exercise during pregnancy has soooo many benefits it’s ridiculous. Want to get started, but have no idea how? Here are 7 of the best exercises to do while you’re pregnant.  

**Disclaimer: Always consult your provider before beginning or continuing an exercise routine.**

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1. Walking

Walking during pregnancy is a pretty ideal workout. It’s FREE (hooray!), low impact, considered safe during all three trimesters, and is a great place to start if you haven’t been working out prior to getting pregnant.

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2. Pelvic Floor Work

Pelvic floor work doesn’t just mean “do your kegels.” That’s actually pretty crappy advice. The key to a healthy and prepared pelvic floor isn’t being “strong,” it’s about being in control. Of course we don’t want the weight of the baby and uterus to weaken those muscles, but if those muscles are already tight strengthening them more might make it difficult to impossible for baby to make his way out.

Unsure if you should be doing strengthening or relaxing pelvic floor exercises? See a pelvic floor physical therapist ASAP! Yes, even during pregnancy. Even if it’s only for one visit to figure out what you should be doing to prepare your body for birth and beyond.

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3. Squats

Speaking of pelvic floor muscles, squats are great for maintaining strength and range of motion in the hips, glutes, core, and pelvic floor muscles. In a low-risk pregnancy, they can also be done throughout all three trimesters.

Squats are also an amazing tool in labor so build the strength and stamina now so you can use them when it really counts.

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4. Bicep Curls

Do you know how heavy baby carriers are? Do you know how heavy an 8 lb newborn feels in a 10 lb carrier in the crook of your arm while you’re carrying said baby PLUS a diaper bag and whatever you just left the house for?

Do the bicep curls.

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5. Back Rows/Flies

Heavier breasts, carrying a baby around, babywearing, breastfeeding, bottle feeding, folding all of that extra laundry can all take a toll on your poor back.

Improve your posture by sitting or standing up tall (shoulders over ribs over hips over heels), stretching your chest muscles (clasp your hands behind your back and stretch your knuckles down towards the floor), and strengthening your back with back rows and back flies.

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6. Water Aerobics/Swimming

Water aerobics or swimming allows you to get a cardio workout in while being kind to your joints that may feel tired or strained from normal pregnancy weight. The water helps support your belly and takes pressure of your spine and pelvis and swimming laps can help strengthen your upper body and arms to help improve posture and prepare you for those heavy babies.

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7. Prenatal Yoga

I know I’m biased in my love for prenatal yoga, but there’s science to back my love up.

Like other forms of prenatal exercise, prenatal yoga can help you to be physically conditioned for pregnancy, labor and birth. It can also increase your balance, stamina, patience and focus, create a community around like-minded simultaneously pregnant people, breathe better despite a crowded body, build confidence in and acceptance of your ever-changing body, and initiate and encourage connection with your baby .

Studies have also shown that a prenatal yoga practice can decrease lower back pain, nausea, carpal tunnel syndrome, headaches, risk of preterm labor and preeclampsia, AND improve sleep.


What’s your favorite way to get moving during pregnancy?

Did you favorite exercise not make the cut? Make a case and I’ll add it to my list!

What Does A Healthy Pregnancy REALLY Look Like?

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Before I got pregnant with my oldest daughter I was teaching between 16 to 30 classes a week. That means I was cycling, jumping, dancing, lifting, and -- this was before yoga teacher training so -- barely stretching for 30 hours a WEEK.


And I wasn’t even one of the really crazy ones…


I come from a world where health and fitness is not only a way of life, it’s also a point of pride. You’d think that was a good thing when planning to become pregnant, right? And usually it is! But for lots of people just like me, so much of our identity gets tied up in being able to “push through” or “keep going” even when our bodies are screaming to take it easy and that isn’t healthy during pregnancy.


Around 14 weeks pregnant with my oldest daughter I nearly passed out while teaching a 6am class. It was a cold morning and the gym had just turned the heat on. I picked a killer lunge track and I knew my class needed the encouragement to get through so even though my legs were screaming and my heart was pounding and my head was swimming… I kept going.


We finished the track and I couldn’t quite catch my breath. I couldn’t recover. I felt black creeping in from the corners of my eyes. I sat down and said I was OK, but I was scared. My class opened the door and helped me sit outside. My legs were shaky (maybe because I was nervous or maybe because my body was trying to recover), but I could finally catch my breath and I finally came around.


When I finally made it home, I called my doctor to let her know what had happened. She reassured me that everything was fine and I probably overheated. She told me to hydrate, rest, and to call if I felt like anything was off or if I wanted to come in. So I canceled the rest of my classes for the day (because I had three more to teach that day… crazy remember?), watched Gilmore Girls, drank water, and relaxed.   


I didn’t stop teaching or exercising, but I finally stopped ignoring my body’s pleas for a break. I stopped caring about the #fitmom on Instagram doing pull-ups at 36 weeks pregnant (please don’t do this btw… we’ll talk about why in another post, but just don’t). I stopped worrying about what my classes would think if I coached more than taught along with them (spoiler… my classes got better). I stopped thinking that a “healthy” pregnancy meant continuing my same workout routine and ignoring my insatiable cravings for soft pretzels and bean quesadillas.


So what does a REAL healthy pregnancy look like?


Honestly, it’ll be different for everyone so it all comes down to knowing and listening to your body.


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Are you hitting the gym twice a day even though all you want to do is go home and sleep because that’s what you did before? GO HOME AND SLEEP!


Are you fretting every time you eat a piece of bread because “carbs are bad” (no they’re not), but you can’t stomach the thought of eggs or anything remotely green (except a Shamrock Shake)? EAT THE CARBS!


Sure, sitting on your couch and eating cheeseburgers all day probably isn’t the answer either, but you already know that.


A healthy pregnancy isn’t PRs or pushing your limits. It’s not the time to overheat or overexert. It isn’t the time to “push through” (unless you mean push through the sensation to get your baby here… then yes, push push push!).  


A healthy pregnancy is YOUR happy balance of eating nutrient dense foods and what you can actually stomach, exercise and rest, quiet meditation and letting your mind wander on about all the things that are happening and all the things that are yet to be.


A healthy pregnancy is all about balance.

A Parent's Guide to Surviving a Time Change

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Personally, I cannot wait for Daylight Savings. The short, dark days make me cranky and cold and throw off all my good intentions of exercising in the evenings or wanting to do anything other than sit on the couch watching Jeopardy with a bowl of popcorn. (Yes,  we do watch Jeopardy. Yes, we are competitive about it. Yes, I know we’re old.)

But what was once the highlight of my March now fills me with a slight feeling of dread.

Are they going to be ready for bed if the sun is still streaming in their window?

What’s earlier than the asscrack of dawn? Because I feel sure this is when they will wake up.

We need to get out the door, but now they’re going to sleep too late and I’ll have to wake them up!  

They already make me lose sleep, I can’t afford to lose another hour!

We finally got them on a good schedule! Why must you ruin this?!


Time changes as a parent are hard and it can also be hard for your kiddo. If yours has to be on a schedule like you, losing an hour of sleep or changing up their routine can be hard on them too.


SO without further ado… my absolutely not-scientific, totally unproven guide to surviving a time change with children.

A week or so before start shifting bedtime back (or up)  in 15 minute increments every two days to slowly adjust to the time change.

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It really doesn’t work the same if you just spend the night before Daylight Savings going “OK we’re going to bed late tonight!” in hopes that they’ll sleep in. They’re still going to get up at some ungodly hour with the energy of a thousand suns while you can barely peel your eyes open enough to figure out what day it is.  

(BTW do the same with meals.)

Prep your kids’ rooms.

Blackout curtains were by far the best investment we ever made for my kids’ rooms. In our house, the sun actually rises in their rooms (like we need help waking them up), but they wound up being really helpful last year when their bedtime was earlier than sunset.  

We also play music or use a sound machine to help cover the happy sounds of other children with fun parents who don’t force their kids to go to bed before the sun.

(This is a joke… my kids are small and need to go to bed before 9pm. BUT my grandmother used to make my dad and uncles go to bed at 7:30 in the middle of the summer while all their other friends were out playing. My dad says they would all lie awake and hear the other kids playing outside. I won’t do this to my kids, but it still makes me laugh because I’m cold hearted and awful.)

Wear them TF out

It’s a good thing this time of year means nice weather and getting out more because there’s nothing like some fresh air and movement to help get your kids to sleep. Go to the park, the playground, the pool.

Got a tiny baby? Tummy time, mama! You’ll have that baby doing push ups before you know it. And I don’t know about you, but exercise wears me out so it’s gotta work from them too, right?

Play hard, sleep hard.   

Do nothing.

If your kid is flexible and easily adapts to changes then just keep rolling.

If you don’t have a schedule and your life is (un)organized chaos all the time then what does this change even matter except after they go to bed you can sit outside and get some fresh air alone. (Maybe.)

If the idea of doing one other thing than everything you’re already doing makes you feel like you might lose your mind, then don’t worry about it!

Here’s the best-kept parenting secret… babies and kids are resilient.

Love them. Feed them. Shelter them. Respect them. Set healthy boundaries. And everything else will work itself out. Don’t let a little time change stress you and your kiddos out. If you care enough to even try to figure this out for yourself and for them, then you’re doing a great job.  


P.S. if you need a place to ask questions, get support, build a community of parents and parents-to-be with a little bit of free prenatal + postpartum yoga, join my private Facebook community Baby Bumps + Beyond!

Happy Birthday To Me! The Story of MY Birth as Told By My Mommy

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Happy 1st Birthday Kate!

Today I’ll write what I’ve been meaning to since last year — how it all began.

My water broke on Sunday 2/21 at 5:30 A.M. Pat and I were so excited we figured soon I’d start into labor, we’d time the contractions, etc. etc.

Well, we waited and waited. At 9:30 A.M. I called Dr. Finley to tell her; she said call back when contractions are 5 minutes apart. By 6:00PM no contractions yet. Called Dr. Finley again - she told us to meet her at the hospital. She examined me and suggested we go home and wait. The baby (that’s me!) was fine, but still very high in my belly and wasn’t really ready to induce labor. We went home barely sleeping all night — called Dr. Finley at 9:00 A.M. — still no contractions. She decided she’d induce labor and asked us to be at the hospital at 1 P.M.

Pat + I checked in at B.— Memorial Hospital at 1:00 P.M. on Monday, Feb. 22. (The day was cold, but bright + sunny.)

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I was immediately given an I.V. and soon after pitocin to induce labor. Unfortunately, the labor came on hard + fast (45 sec. long; 2 min. apart). They stopped the pitocin and my labor began on its own. I remember feeling so out of control. Pat really tried to keep us together. In Lamaze class (The LCCE in me is so proud of my baby parents!) you learn how to breathe etc. for each stage of labor; however, we really couldn’t figure out which stage we were in, so we just huffed and blew. It’s weird how so much pain can be minimized by the cause of it. I mean, knowing that soon there would be a child to show for it somehow reduced the agony.

Lamaze Completion Certificate

Towards the end of labor I felt as though I had to go to the bathroom. I knew I was going to have the baby soon. Vera, the head nurse (she was great!) didn’t believe me and disappeared for five minutes. I kept telling Pat to go get Dr. Finley. I knew the baby was coming.

Sure enough, Dr. Finley came in, gave me an internal exam. 9 cm. dilated almost ready. Five minutes later (about 6 PM) I was given the OK to push. Whew! Pushing was work — but also easy. For the first time all afternoon I felt in control. At 6:35 PM I was wheeled into the delivery room. I think I pushed about 3 more times and her head was out. Pat said she looked like his grandfather. (Thanks, Dad) One more small push and there she was — my beautiful girl! When Dr. Finley said it was a girl, all I could think of was “I gave them a girl” meaning my mom + dad. Their sixth grandchild and finally a girl! 6lbs 6oz 20 inches.

Being stitched up after the delivery was the longest and most irritating time. Pat was off phoning in the news, the baby was being examined and bathed, and I was lying there alone, excited, tired, and thoroughly elated.

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I was wheeled into the recovery room where I saw Pat again. He was so happy — we were so happy. We were so happy!

After an hour I went to my room where practically immediately I was greeted by Pat’s whole family! They had all come over to see the baby. Pauline (my grandmother) was beside herself with joy.

The first time I really saw Kate was 9:00 P.M. She was brought in to be fed. Nursing came pretty easily for both of us. God was she incredible! My baby.

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Pat got very sick that night and was unable to come see me (actually, he came once on Tuesday) for the rest of my hospital stay. Thursday morning we were released off to start a brand new life together.


My mother wrote that story on my first birthday. Last night I asked her to tell me about it again.

The following recording is our story. 30 years after she told it the first time...

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5 Things To Consider When Choosing a Doula

You’ve read all the books and you’ve talked to lots of people and you know you need a doula…


But how do you pick one?!


1. Ask about their credentials (and decide if it matters to you).

In general, there are three types of doulas.

A Doula can be anyone who has the knowledge and skills to assist birthing people and their families.

A Trained Doula is someone who has gone through a formal training or has “apprenticed” under someone to either deepen their knowledge and skills or learn them in the first place.

A Certified Doula is someone who has gone through a training and completed a certification process (requirements vary, but most often they include attending a certain number of births, reading lots of different material, earning positive reviews, and more).  

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I started working as a doula before attending a training or becoming certified and I feel confident in saying I don’t think any of my clients knew or cared that I wasn’t “certified.” There are plenty of wonderful doulas who aren’t. But if certification matters to you, ask about the doula’s credentials and do a bit of research on the organization.  

2. Ask friends, family, and providers for references.

It’s sometimes easy to find a doula you’ll click with if the people you click with recommend her. But maybe not! The birth experience you want may be different from your friend. Maybe her doula specialized in home births and you really will be more comfortable with a hospital birth. Ask around! And while you’re at it… ask about their birth stories too. Often the only birth stories you know are the ones you see on TV or movies and 98% of those are not real.


3. Ask about their availability and accessibility.

Your doula should not only be available around your due date, but you should also be able to get in touch with them. What is their policy about emails, calls, or texts? Does this doula prefer the same methods of communication you do? You should feel confident that when your baby decides they’re ready to be born, your doula will answer the call.

That being said… sometimes doulas are at births for days at a time. If you don’t receive a response to an emailed inquiry right away, give her time to eat, sleep, and get to a computer to respond.

4. Ask about their philosophy around pregnancy, childbirth, parenting, and life.


We’re all human... and as much as your doula should be there to support you and your wishes, it’s normal and natural for each of our interactions to be clouded by our own biases and experiences. Other than your partner, your doula is your biggest support throughout pregnancy and birth so you should know where she’s coming from and be comfortable with that.  

5. Trust your gut.

In one interview, a dad-to-be asked why they should choose me and not another doula in our area. I told them it was entirely up to them because we have so many incredible doulas here that I knew they would be well supported with whoever they chose, but they should pick the person who feels right to them.

Pregnancy and birth are such an intimate times and the people you allow into that space should make you feel at ease. There isn’t a special training or magic potion for that… it’s just an innate connection and trusting your instinct when you’ve found it.

My wish for families is that they have a team that makes them feel like they could take over the world. And while I’d love to work with all parents, I’m also happy to refer them to other doulas if they feel like I’m not the right fit for them.  

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What Is A Doula?

A doula is someone who offers physical and emotional support to a pregnant/birthing person and their partner.

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That’s it!

Seems simple enough, right?

But what exactly does “physical and emotional support” mean and why in the world do you need it?

One of my favorite analogies is that giving birth without a doula is like climbing Mount Everest without a sherpa.

Sherpas are expert mountaineers. They know the terrain. They have special skills they have honed with experience. They are guides that help lead people through both expected and unexpected challenges.

So think of a doula as your birth sherpa! A doula knows the language and nuances of birth. They know the “terrain” or the places where you may choose to give birth. They help you navigate both expected and unexpected challenges during pregnancy and birth. They are your guide.

  • If you’re unsure what kind of birth experience you want, your doula is there to talk things out and help you create birth preferences that are right for you.

  • If you’re feeling nervous or impatient, your doula is there to reassure and guide you.

  • If your partner forgets all the things they learned in class, your doula is there to remind them how to help you.

  • Your doula knows physical, hands on, and breathing techniques to keep you comfortable and coping well during labor.

  • Your doula is there to support your decisions, even if it means straying from your original “plan.”

People often ask me if they should get a doula or a midwife and the answer is BOTH!

A doula is NOT medical personnel. Doulas don’t listen to your baby or check your dilation. They don’t catch your baby or check your blood pressure. We leave all that to the medical professionals. (Midwife or OB is another question for another day.)  

So go back to Everest for a moment. You can read all the books, watch all the videos, take all the classes, buy all the gear, but will you summit without the guide? Maybe. Maybe not. But would having a sherpa make the experience exponentially better knowing you were being led by someone knowledgeable who has your best interest at heart? Yeah, probably.

That, my friends, is birth with a doula.

Sure… you can absolutely birth without a doula. (No one stays pregnant for forever as much as it may seem like it in that 9th month, I know.) But a doula’s job is to help you and your partner feel supported, cared for, and heard, so you feel like you had your best birth.

Did you have a doula at your birth? What do you think a doula does?

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Eczema + Whole30 + Postpartum Depression

At some point during a prenatal or postpartum yoga class, I often take a moment to have moms consider the ways their babies have changed them from the inside out.

I always thought it was a sweet sentiment and there are so many ways our babies change us physically, emotionally, and spiritually. But Little Sister changed me from the inside out a little more literally than the usual thoughts of my heart growing bigger and stretch marks… she gave me eczema!

What the what?!

Never in my life have I ever had any sort of eczema or skin sensitivity (other than my lifelong pasty ass fight with the sun).  Little Sister was born and lo and behold we both have eczema. (Not so fun fact: I actually thought I had mastitis because the first spot to develop eczema was the bottom side of my right breast and I was just waiting for the aches and fever to set in, but they never came.) Since then, hers has been controllable with OTC lotions and creams, but mine… mine has traveled, but never fully went away. My dermatologist prescribed a steroid. Nothing. Eczema specific lotions. Nope. My usual shampoo and conditioner? Total breakout.

I decided to do an elimination diet to figure out what was causing this. Pull out almost everything from my diet including the usual suspects (dairy, grains, sugar), but also some lesser known culprits (tomatoes, citrus fruits, nuts, legumes, etc.).  

And then I was like, “Hahahahahahaha. Yeah right.”

So I decided to try Whole30 instead. I bought the book and the workbook a friend who’s in the middle of her first Whole30 swears by and I bought a shit ton of produce and ghee and totally forgot to buy more waffles for everyone else living in my house and then I was like, “Hahahahahahaha. Yeah right.”

Here’s the deal…

I shared this picture with some caption about loving the cuddles, but really my face is cropped out because I was touched out, overwhelmed, and miserable.

I shared this picture with some caption about loving the cuddles, but really my face is cropped out because I was touched out, overwhelmed, and miserable.

I haven’t been shy about struggling with Postpartum Depression/Postpartum Anxiety after Little Sister was born.  (Though now that I’m seeing a little more clearly I think this may have even started while I was pregnant with her.)

For me, PPD/PPA probably didn’t look too bad from the outside.  I was back to work. I was exercising. I was making jokes. I was getting places on time. But everything was hard.

I kept telling myself it’ll get better after we move, after we finish painting, after we travel for weddings, after we’re sleeping. (We’re still not sleeping.) Eventually I realized it wasn’t getting better.  

I have an incredible therapist and she listened to me week after week just trying to gut through. Most of the time I was just OK. Sometimes I was a total mess. Rarely I was “good.” This went on for EIGHT. MONTHS. before I finally checked enough boxes where she recommended I talk to my OB.  

My boxes were:
“I want to want to eat well, but I don’t want to.”
“I know exercise makes me feel better, but I can’t bring myself to do it.”
“I went to class and I felt great while I was there, but by the time I got back home I was already stressed and miserable again.”
“Why bother.”
“I keep trying to do everything right and I keep failing at it.”
“I’m failing everyone.”   
“I’m angry all the time. I’m snapping at the kids for just being kids. It’s not fair to them, but I can’t help it.”

I do this for a living.  I study PPD.  I listen to podcasts and attend webinars by professionals.  I knew in my rational brain that I was not a bad mother or wife or friend, but fuck if it didn’t feel like it.  

At my next OB appointment I told the nurse I was struggling, but was hesitant to talk to my doctor about it because I still wasn’t sure how I felt about medication. She smiled and thanked me for bringing it up because at the very least my doctor and I could talk about it and reminded me that I wasn’t required to do anything I didn’t want to do.  

My doctor did end up writing me a prescription and I decided it was time to give it a try.

*** I would like to point out that the above interaction was the absolute appropriate response by all healthcare professionals involved. I’m so thankful and lucky to have a wonderful team. Please know this is not the case everywhere and read up on this post below. ***  

A week later I finally felt like me again. I wanted to get to my mat and practice. I was actually sleeping (well when the baby wasn’t waking me up). I still feel stressed sometimes.  Having two kids is HARD! I still feel like I’m failing them on occasion. (Is this a universal parent thing though? Are we all actually saving for their therapy and not college? Just me?) But I’m finally coping again.  

So back to Whole30.

Even after I started to feel like me again, I still couldn’t quite muster up the energy to give up the weekly trips to Chic-Fil-A (or thrice weekly? But seriously… how do they somehow convince me that this is OK? I would never go to McDonalds three times a week and be like “Eh this is fine.”), or meal prep, or grocery shop, or just cook in general.

I wanted to want to, but I didn’t want to.  

So going from not cooking and eating zero vegetables to an elimination diet or Whole30 would basically be like going from being sedentary to running an ultramarathon.  Just the idea of cutting foods like that made me eat even worse than I was already.  Like, Ben & Jerry’s, Funyuns, m&ms, Pringles, ALL the junk food in anticipation of not being able to eat them later.

An Instagram Stories breakfast update.

An Instagram Stories breakfast update.

This is not how I do things. This is exactly what I’ve always coached against.

And to be completely clear, the ONLY reason for these “diets” was to figure out what the hell is happening with my skin. But as much as I want to know what’s happening… it’s just too much right now. And that’s OK.  

Like everything right now, I’m starting small. Eating more vegetables and less sugar. Consciously choosing when to snack and when to say no thank you.

I’m hoping that finally having the motivation to eat better will also make my workouts feel better, which helps me sleep better, maybe it will even help Little Sister since we’re still breastfeeding (often).

This isn’t an easy post to share.  It’s hard to publicly admit that you don’t have it all together… especially around motherhood when motherhood is your job. But I truly believe in sharing all variations of normal prenatal and postpartum.

It’s important to know you’re not alone. It’s important to know there’s help and resources out there. It’s important to know this does not make you a bad parent. It’s important to know you are so loved.   

Little Sister's Birth Story

(Most bloggers break up their birth stories into two or more posts, but I'm not most bloggers.  I barely blog at all.  So here is your warning that this is a long post.  Godspeed.)

Biology is amazing...

My last blog post was about how I was over being pregnant at 30 weeks.  “Over. It,” I said.

Nine months after her birth I’ll just have to take my word for it.  I don’t “remember” any of that pregnancy discomfort.  I’m nostalgic for baby kicks and my baby bump.  (We’re still not sleeping at night [or during the day… or at all] though so don’t expect Baby #3 anytime soon.)

Adjusting to life as a family of four took time.  Lots of time.  Still adjusting.  But that’s a post for another day.

Today I want to share Little Sister’s birth story.  (9 months late… sorry, second kid)

** Additional Note: This is a REAL birth story.  Like ALL the nitty gritty.  We’re gonna talk about poop and vaginas and all things TMI.  Read at your own risk ;) **    

Big sister was born at 39 weeks 2 days.  So when 39 and 2 came and went with Little Sister. I. Was. Done.  My belly was itchy, I got a Harry Potter-like stretch mark on the right side of my belly button, and the ability to sleep left me months earlier.

It wasn’t unusual to wake up at 4am, go downstairs to grab something to eat, and then watch TV until I could finally fall asleep again.  (Usually about a half hour to an hour before Big Sister woke up.)  And this day (39 and 3) was not any different… except I kept getting a shooting pain in my pubic bone every 15 minutes or so.  

I refused to believe it was labor because 1) I had resigned myself to the fact that I would be pregnant forever and she was never coming out and 2) it felt so different than the first time.  I started to nod off while watching Don John (I’m only admitting to that because one day I know I’ll forget and I want to remember the little things), but every 15-20 minutes I would wake up in pain for about 30ish seconds and then go back to sleep again.  

At one point I fell asleep for a full hour so when my husband came downstairs to make his breakfast and get ready to head to work I decided not to say anything.  I figured whatever it was had passed and it was time to go about our day.  I was definitely hiding contractions while helping everyone get ready, but if I could hide them then nothing was happening anytime soon, right?

My husband left for work and Big Sister and I ate breakfast and hung out downstairs, but I started to get really uncomfortable even though things were still erratic.  I sent a text to my doula to give her a heads up that it might be the day.

Then I sent a message to the friend we were supposed to meet up with later in the day to say I didn’t think we’d make it for our All Fired Up playdate.  (Pro tip: when you’re ready for baby to come, make plans!  They love to ruin plans.)

Around 8:30am, my husband jokingly said if the baby was going to come could she let it be known before his 9 o’clock meeting and since the contractions were actually bringing me to my knees and I was the only one home with a toddler I figured it was probably a good time to let him know what was up.  Things were still erratic though and I was afraid to call him home so soon.  He decided to come home, but while he was on his way I pooped aaaaannnd I didn’t have another contraction again until after he got home.  (Do you know how horrible this was going to be for me if he went back to work the next day and had to be like, “Nope.  No baby… just a poop.”?)

It was a cool and cloudy day, but the three of us bundled up for a walk to try to keep things moving.  A few contractions came and went, but nothing major and the walk was otherwise uneventful.  Big Sister did NOT want to come back inside, but I’m sure we bribed her with the promise of Frozen. (My husband later confessed that Love Is An Open Door was on repeat in his head during Little Sister's birth.)  

Contractions continued to be inconsistent for most of the morning (about 10-12 minutes apart with a few that were 7ish), but I managed to take a nap. (Early labor naps are beautiful.  If you can, I highly recommend getting the rest while you can.)  

Eventually things started to pick up.  Contractions were getting longer in length and I could tell she was moving down because I had to pee after every one, but they still didn’t feel like I remembered them feeling the first time.  Instead of feeling contractions in my belly I kept feeling them in my pubic bone and back.  We suspected she might be posterior so my doula recommended some position changes for me to encourage baby girl to make the turn.  (PSA: Get yourself a doula!)

About a half hour later I thought I moved her into a better position, but then things slowed down again.  (Labor is a marathon, folks.)  I ate a tunafish sandwich (wtf, why?!) and tried to nap again, but within the hour things picked up even more.  Though they were still irregular, some contractions were coming as soon as every 2 minutes and some as long as 12, I started to feel nauseated and was shaking a bit.  We called my wonderful, amazing sister-in-law who came to take Big Sister for some extra-special girl time.  I was frustrated, but still coping with contractions well enough that I figured I wasn’t dilated much.  I joked (kinda) that I was ready to just go to the hospital and get my epidural and watch Netflix for a while.         

After Big Sister left, I wanted to go upstairs to lie in bed and try the side-lying hip release. While I was in early labor with Big Sister a nurse used this move with me and after she did I went into full blown active labor within minutes.  I guess my babies just love that move because shortly after we did both sides I was full on shaking through contractions and they FINALLY became stronger and more regular. (Of course now I’m upstairs and have to get back downstairs in order to go anywhere.) I still didn’t feel like I was that far along, but my husband insisted it was time to call the hospital. (Smart man.)  I found the number to call and I think the conversation went something like this:

Me: I’m in labor.
Nurse: Yup. Sounds like you should come in.  We’ll get a room ready for you.
**Me In My Head: Oh whatever it's not even close to time** 

I sent a text to my doula to let her know we were heading in, but since I was still convinced that I was only 2cm the actual text said, “I’m a wimp and can’t hang at home anymore.”  (Timestamp 3:51pm.)   

So now things are happening, but -- like I said -- I’m upstairs.  Crap.  I have another contraction and my whole lower body is shaking (because shaking feels good during those contractions… just let them happen, mamas!) and my husband it running around trying to gather all our things to get ready to go.  I start to head downstairs, but then realize I didn’t take a picture the same way I did before we left for the hospital with Big Sister so of course I had to go back up the stairs, undress, and take the exact same picture that I took two years before  *eye roll* and THEN head back downstairs again. (I’m basically crawling downstairs through contractions btw… it’s all very glamorous at this point.)

I had another contraction right before getting into the car and then again about halfway there.  (We only lived 5 minutes door to door from St. Mary’s Hospital.)  Since a contraction had just passed, I convinced my husband to just park in the parking garage across the street from the hospital rather than using the valet.  (Again… I wasn’t even convinced I was supposed to be there yet.)  We parked and started walking and there are probably four contractions and six people asking if I need a wheelchair between the car and the elevator.  I stubbornly refused… still convinced I was only 2cm.  

We got up to Labor & Delivery and I sent my husband ahead to let them know we were here and I was coming. (Very slowly… shuffling down the hallway.  I stopped against the wall for a contraction and heard a mother groaning/yelling in the room next to me and I was like, “I hear ya girlfriend.  I hear ya.”  *Hunger Games sign*)

When I got to the nurses station I realized my nurse was one of my prenatal yoga students!  She was great about getting us checked in and respecting my birth preferences, which I had sent ahead of time.  (Text to doula to let her know we were in room 5… Timestamp 4:26pm)   

Generally speaking, the fewer internal checks providers perform the better.  It lowers the risk of infection and it can be incredibly uncomfortable.  But I wanted to know how long of a night this was going to be (since I was only 2cm) so I asked my nurse to check.  Aaaaannd I was 6cm and completely effaced.  Oh.  OK I got this.  

I love my husband.  He is an excellent partner in all things and has always made me feel supported in birth, but when my doula arrived I finally had someone who knew how to hands-on support me and make labor more manageable.  I swear the techniques she used made my contractions practically painless.  She encouraged and reminded me to keep drinking water and to empty my bladder.  And even though hands and knees had been the most comfortable position for me throughout the day, she had me try other ways to help bring baby down.  

Soon (much sooner than I even thought possible) I was starting to feel the urge to push.  Like... was freaking out a little bit because I thought this baby was going to try to come through only 6cm not the 10 its supposed to.  A nurse asked if my water broke and I said no. To which my doula was like, “Uhhhh not so sure about that.”  Sure enough there were fluids in the portable toilet I was laboring on (The thing is basically like a birth stool and can really help you relax your pelvic floor muscles the way you would while using the bathroom normally) though it was more of a trickle than the gush that happened with my first.  A contraction or two later and there was the gush I had been waiting for.  

The urge to bear down was unstoppable so it’s a good thing no one tried to tell me not to.  The nurses called Dr. Tate (the same doctor who attended Big Sister’s birth too) and we got to the beginning of the end.    

Second Stage of Labor (aka Pushing) 

Second Stage of Labor (aka Pushing) 

With Big Sister it felt like the pushing stage went so quickly, but we really had no idea because we didn’t think to look.  This time my husband made sure to look at the clock. Twenty minutes (and several hemorrhoids jokes by me later) Little Sister made her way into the world just after 6:30 in the evening.  

My husband always felt weird about the idea of cutting the umbilical cord so after the delayed clamping I cut the cord (both births actually).  I’m not really sure why, but that sometimes feels even more empowering to me than the whole birthing an entire baby through my vagina part.  Like, I grew, nourished, and birthed you AND I cut the tie too!  

Cutting Little Sister's umbilical cord myself! 

Cutting Little Sister's umbilical cord myself! 

* Cause I am a womaaann… W-O-M-A-N*

And then suddenly -- as quickly as there are a bunch of people in the room during delivery -- everyone leaves and you’re left alone for that magic hour to bond with your new person.  We sent some messages to let everyone know she arrived and we were doing well.  We wondered what Big Sister was up to and hoped she was OK.  We stared at the super blonde little one in front of us and wondered who she looked like and what she would be like.  

I’ve thought about her birth story a lot over the months, but never wrote it down.  In a way, it seemed uneventful.  Easy.  (Or as uneventful and easy as giving birth can be at least.)  Writing it down does make it feel magical again though.  Remembering what the body is capable of and the emotions that come with these stories.

First cuddles with my sweet girl.

First cuddles with my sweet girl.

If you haven’t written your little one’s birth story down I encourage you to do it.  If not for yourself, for your little ones to read when they're bigger.  Or send it to me!  I LOVE birth stories!  Even if you didn’t have the most positive birth experience… sometimes writing can help you process and move past any negative feelings.

** P.S. If you’re pregnant and would like me to be a part of your birth story as a doula message me soon. My spring calendar is already filling up! **   

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A Week of Self-Care

I’m officially 30 weeks pregnant and OVER. IT.  And by "it" I mean everything

I spilled a bag of pastina on the kitchen floor the other day and cried about it. 

Like I said… Over. It.

So in an effort to save my sanity since I still have 10ish weeks to go before a different kind of craziness sets in, I decided to make this a week of self-care. 

Buh-Bye Facebook.

I removed Facebook from my phone because I’m – wait for it – OVER IT!  Too much anger, not enough pictures of delicious food, kittens, puppies, or baby cheeks.  I definitely have a problem and have still popped on from my laptop, but I stopped scrolling every 10 minutes (oh who am I kidding… every 2 minutes).     

Knitting.

To keep my paws off my phone and reloading Facebook, I started knitting again.  My good friend taught me how to knit back in high school and I’ve been an on-again off-again knitter ever since. 

I started this blanket right after Thanksgiving and finally got around to finishing it this week. 

Then I started this hoodie that probably won’t fit my kid’s big head, but it’s cute and I love it anyway.  (Good thing I’m having another girl… I’ll just subject her to my first sweater attempt.)  Knitting has been a great “moving meditation” since it forces me to be in the moment, paying full attention to my work instead of spacing out. 

Naps. 

My husband worked from home on Friday, which allowed me to take a little nap after teaching a 6am class.  And by a little nap I mean I passed out on the couch from 8:30am until 12:30pm.  I was sorry to miss a playdate with friends, but they get it.  So I slept.  Then I got another 30ish minutes on Saturday after my classes.  Since I don't sleep very well at night anymore now, naps are golden.   

Floating.

Do you know what this 30-week pregnant woman misses more than beer or sushi or cold deli meats combined?  Lying on her stomach!   Another sweet friend gifted me a float at Vitality Float Spa where I got to lounge in a large tub full of Epsom salt water.  It felt SO nice to roll “on” to my tummy for a while.  Add in some relaxing music and soft to no lighting and I’m hooked.   

Veggies.

Pregnancy and veggies haven’t really mixed well for me until recently.  I mostly wanted cheesy bread the whole time, but I’ve finally gotten my appetite for my “normal” foods back and it’s made a HUGE difference in how I feel… even if I do wash them down with a cookie or two. 

Lots of Yoga.

To be fair, I taught instead of took this week, but watching people smile as they leave a class feeling refreshed and reset helps ME feel refreshed.  So if you came to my prenatal class on Saturday, my first yoga class at Turn this morning, or my restore ride at BOHO this afternoon, please know that you helped to fill my cup this week. 

What do you do when you feel like you're losing your mind?  Do you have a self-care routine?  What does it look like?  

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