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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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