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Archive for the ‘Parenting’ Category

I am currently 23 weeks pregnant and just past the half way mark of my 2nd pregnancy; I have begun the big stretch and belly care is once again an essential part of my daily routine.  5 years ago I found myself at this same juncture while pregnant with my daughter, now 4.  Much of the reading suggests that one’s likelihood of developing stretch marks is a genetic factor combined with how fast one gains their pregnancy weight so I focus my routine on bringing me comfort, relief and a chance to tune into my changing body and the growing baby.  The fact that with my first pregnancy I did not get any stretch marks does of course reinforce my commitment to ensuring my body is hydrated inside and out during pregnancy.

My routine highlights two key elements of mindful self-care which are always essential and even more so while pregnant or nursing, hydration and comfort. When I am well hydrated inside and out I do not suffer from some of the common symptoms we pregnant women experience such as slowed digestion (including constipation) or the stretching and inching sensations as the skin on my belly makes way for growing uterus and baby.  However, drinking water is not second nature to me I have to remind myself throughout the day.  A great way my midwife suggested, which is working wonders for me, is to drink some water every hour.  I like this approach as it removes the pressure of counting each cup and helps me focus on the more organic approach of continued hydration vs., for me the unrealistic, measured hydration.  I prefer to drink and enjoy the act rather than drink and focus on counting each cup. Additionally, I have filled my diet with healthy oils and fats which I derive from many sources including coconut oil (I use it in cooking instead of vegetable oil), Vitamin E (with my midwives approval I take a daily supplement), avocados (my excuse to eat fresh guacamole with every meal), kefir (also a super source for protein) and low mercury content fish selections.  The nutritional choices I make while pregnant are very intentional, flavorful and fun; always focused on providing my body what it needs to provide for my health and that of the growing life inside.

In the case of external belly care any product I use must provide hydration and comfort.  I choose to use products with only natural ingredient lists free of many chemicals found in common skin care lines.  While bathing I use a naturally fragranced or non-fragranced vegetable based bar soap with a natural lufa (to sloth away dead skin cells).  I operate under the philosophy that soap’s job is to wash away oils and dirt without drying or interfering with my body’s ability to maintain my natural base moisture levels through my skin.  My routine alleviates the sensations of stretching and inching which usually plague me at night. With this pregnancy I have used two body butters. One, a lotion bar by Worker B is a bee’s wax, avocado and almond oil based bar has a light sent of bee’s wax with sweet honey notes I love the sent and light feel as it spreads however, it was on the oily side which I found did not absorb well for me.  I prefer a more butter like consistency to my belly cream choice.  Lucky for me as contributor to Sienna Naturals I was gifted a sample of the body butter for mamas and babies.  It is creamy with the light sweet notes of lavender and chamomile.  I love the moisture content.  With one generous application at post bath or at bedtime I receive enough moisture to last overnight and through the following day.

My routine flows through the day, I call it mindful self-care.  At night, as I invite my daughter to apply the lotion to my belly, I use the time to relax and talk with her about what being a big sister may be like and how her brother is swimming in my tummy and can hear her voice. She laughs and says, “my turn, mommy can you please put some of that special lotion on me? I am growing and I don’t want to get any stretch marks either.” Ahh the joys of pure sweet motherhood!

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Our daughter has wonderfully supple and clear skin today and the journey to achieve this balance came from learning to recognize that our external and internal nourishment needs are intertwined.  As a new mom I committed myself to making many healthy lifestyle choices for the care of my daughter. Throughout my pregnancy my partner and I were conscious of making food choices such as; low/no preservatives, lots of wholefoods; fresh fruits and vegetables.  When it came to prenatal beauty I made a deliberate change to natural and organic products such as cleansers free of Salicylic acid,  paraben free lotion and I avoided nail polish altogether. When our daughter was born I was predisposed to choose skin care lines for our daughter with ingredient lists I could easily interpret, lines that followed the less is more philosophy.

I received a great lead from a fellow mom to try EWG’s Skin Deep Cosmetics Database for lessons in label reading. I used their rating system and perused product reviews.  Then, to be honest, I took some time to recover from the sticker shock of switching from the traditional “natural” products sold within most drugstores to a line containing only natural and organic ingredients with the concentrated moisture content we could trust to nourish our daughter’s skin. In my mind, how well something worked and how safe it was for our baby mattered more than the price per ounce. I soon discovered a true benefit to the richer higher quality natural product; I could use less per application since it provided greater protection over a longer period of time.   I also succeeded in convincing my reluctant partner who shared in these decisions that making the switch was the most healthful option (which for him meant learning a sparing approach to product use).

Our daughter thrived and had healthy glowing skin with little irritation until around one year of age, about six months following the introduction of solid foods.  My partner and I began to discover eczema like patches on her legs and arms. They were dry, discolored and would change in shape and size over time.  We tried the oatmeal baths, increased moisture, and cotton clothing, anything we considered to have a direct impact on the treatment of her skin.

What ensued was a lesson in the signs that our skin, our largest organ, provides into the inner workings of our bodies.  At a wellness visit with my daughter’s pediatrician we brought up the patches as a topic of concern.  The Dr. took a look asked a few questions related to the length the patches existed and how frequently they occurred and identified them as possible signs of a food allergy.   This was news.  The year previous to this visit we had thought our daughter had an issue isolated to a lack of moisture or an external irritation therefore we worked to treat her dry patches only topically.  However, at two years of age with the guidance of the pediatrician, the use of a six-week elimination diet and blood testing food allergies were identified as egg and dairy based.   The strongest reaction our daughter had to these allergens was, luckily, mild hives on her face.  However, once we eliminated these allergens completely we saw her blossom into a new state of healthiness.  Her skin cleared up within a couple of months and we noticed her energy and immune system improved.

As a family we have come to appreciate skin as signaling device to underlying health.  We continue to make informed product selection when it comes to our family’s skin care as well as dietary choices.   My partner and I are now well versed in label reading and even our daughter, now four, can identify foods she should avoid.  The great news is that with her annual checkups we can see that she will likely outgrow her egg allergy within the next year.  I can say our family’s focus to include the topical care of our daughter’s skin with the dietary requirements to ensure the needs of her skin are met has strengthened our belief in the holistic approach to living.  All components of our bodies are deeply connected and when one part is not functioning successfully finding the cause may require deeper investigation and is worthy of any “necessary” change required to ensure the overall health of the whole self.

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The thought that fear is in the eye of the beholder came to mind last Thrusday night. My three year old was watching basketball with papa who was transfixed with surfing between the game and an episode of River Monsters. The host and biologist Jermey Wade goes on a night hunt on the Fitzroy River of Australia to track and catch a Sawfish.

I found myself viscerally opposed to the sensationalized imagery and scaremongering contained in the program. A high level of propagandizing nature in its habitat something, in my spectrum of motherhood, I find unsuitable for a 3 year old (no matter how fascinating the information and facts shared). In vocalizing my assessment I was confronted with papa’s comparison of this cinematography to the stories we read to our daughter weekly; the reality that although I found this episode distasteful (alot like a nature program on steroids) among my daughter’s favorite books are Peter and the Wolf, The Three Little Pigs, Where the Wild Things Are, Beauty and the Beast, Little Red Riding Hood (notice the theme here?). She is fascinated with the dark portrayal of the animal kingdom; portrayals such as wolfs, wild things and beasts as symbols of malintention, trickery and provocateurs of fear.

I am comfortable with exploring her fears in a fantastic literary context but when it comes to a cinematic portrayal of the dangerous and scary face of nature, real habitats, I find myself cringing.

Is it that fear is in the eye of the beholder? In this case myself with my deep fear for the unknown especially in dark water (as my sister can attest to) or is it that fear is “trained in the eye” of the beholder? Training derived from a variety of domains and in this case a domain; so effective, so intense, so targeted, it is a domain most of us will not live without……………………… TELEVISION!

Fear is in the eyes of di beholder,
And love is in the presence of the love maker,
Life is in the words of the comforter,
Endure much longer,
Live much longer”

-Damian Marley

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