Inspiring natural, happy, healthy families!

I’ll Take It! June 21, 2011

Filed under: Pregnancy and Birth — My Natural Family @ 11:42 am

So many helpful thoughts and suggestions were generously offered to me throughout the week for the “help a new mother out” sale.¬† It pretty much reaffirmed how gracious and caring circle ME’s clientele are ūüôā¬† It’s hard to narrow down all the wonderful advice, so as promised, I’ll share a few of the tidbits that were¬†delightfully practical, and some that really warmed my heart (and some of them even made me cry a bit…these hormone fluctuations are going to be the death of me):

* It’s good to try to be “Super Mom,” but it’s okay (and expected) that in some areas you may fall short. Prioritize what aspects are most important to you, your husband, and your baby.

* My “advice” is to try to limit the number of parenting books you read (amen, sister) and instead find some moms you trust and ask them for help because they know you and can¬†walk alongside you on¬†your journey.

* The first 6 weeks are about survival: if baby is¬†bathed, dressed and fed¬†and mommy is bathed, dressed and fed then it was a successful day.¬† What helped my husband and I survive?¬† Establishing a ROUTINE!¬† As a first time mom, I found it very difficult to read my baby’s cues — is she crying because she’s hungry?¬† Tired?¬† Overstimulated?¬† Trying to figure out what my baby was telling us was easiest for me when we stuck to a routine (as this momma and I were talking, she shared that routine and “schedule” were not the same thing: routine is more the order of how you do things: feed, followed by activity, followed by sleep.¬† If you fed Baby, then did an activity, but she then cried when you laid her down to rest when she normally would just fall asleep, you know she may need to¬†be fed¬†again before she sleeps.¬† It’s not saying “Well I just fed you an hour ago and I’m not going to feed you again for another hour or two because that’s not our schedule).

* Sleep when your baby sleeps.¬† It’s not always possible, but when the opportunity is there jump on that train fast!¬† You don’ t realize how vital sleep is until you go 48 consecutive hours without it.

* Always pick the sling over the stroller.  Baby is much happier.


* Don’t forget about yourself.¬† The old saying “If Mama ain’t happy ain’t nobody happy” is actually true.¬† It’s so easy to get swept up in being this beautiful little person’s mom that many forget that they also enjoy doing other things and have hobbies or work that they love.¬† Take care of yourself too and you will be better equipped to take care of your baby.

* Cherish both the quiet nights and early mornings — they grow up so fast, and you’ll never look back and wish you hadn’t held your baby through those sleepy times.

* Breastfeeding can be tough the first 6 weeks especially!  A pump will be the best investment you ever make.  Pump after a feeding if possible to up your milk production and get some of that vital hind-milk!

* My best advice to you as a new parent is to never forget to give your husband lots of attention also.¬† It’s so easy as a mom to get wrapped up in our children.¬† Put your relationship with him first as often as possible and your children will grow up in a two-parent home with a great example of what marriage can be.¬† By putting him first, you are creating the best future they can have.

*¬† Be who you want your kids to become.¬† This is ultimately our greatest challenge but also our most important task…Often we focus on WHAT we want our children to be rather than WHO we want them to be.¬† So we spend money, time and energy making sure they will be smart, athletic, creative, etc. by fretting over music classes, sports teams and tutoring.¬† But what really matters is WHO they are; that we are raising individuals who will be people of character, honor our earth and take care of one another.¬† And how do they learn that?¬† By watching us….After all, how many times do we catch ourselves thinking, “I sound just like my mother!”¬† That’s because, indeed, children mirror the character modeled to them.¬† So BE who you want them to BECOME.¬† And expect to mess up and need Grace along the way ūüôā

* Do not be afraid to apologize to your children when you’ve made a genuine mistake.¬†

Reading all these words of wisdom made me even more excited (and thankfully less terrified)¬†to embark on this journey of motherhood.¬† It makes me wish I could hold this kid in my¬†arms right now ūüôā¬† I think the most comforting things to hear were that I can expect to make mistakes.¬† On paper, and through my academic study of child development, various theories on parenting make it seem like if you¬†“just do this, follow this, and practice this your child will be perfect.”¬† Obviously, there’s no such thing as¬†a perfect child or a perfect parent, so to¬†hold yourself, your children or your husband up to unrealistic expectations can be disappointing, to say the least.¬† All we can do for sure¬†is¬†love our families abundantly¬†and unconditionally, and support other moms and dads as they make their way through the same daunting (and amazing) adventures.

What are some of the greatest lessons you’ve learned on your journeys through birth and¬†parenthood?


A Little Good Advice Really Pays Off. June 11, 2011

Filed under: Pregnancy and Birth — My Natural Family @ 3:21 pm

I’M GOING TO BE A MOM!¬† The reality of the situation is just barely beginning to sink in, but the hubs and I are pretty elated to say the least.¬†¬†Parenthood truly wasn’t in our plans for anytime in the near future, but if¬†I’ve learned anything of real¬†value¬†it’s that life is what happens while you’re busy making plans.¬† I’m pretty sure though that even if you’re actively trying NOT to get pregnant, all you have to do is drink a glass of tap water at circle ME…have you seen the number of pregnant women working here?!¬† It’s contagious.¬† Before any pregnancy test confirmed my fears joy, however, I knew something¬†was different back in early April.¬† I had this sudden visceral connection to¬†my strength as woman,¬†a¬†spiritual awareness of my¬†connection to¬†our Earth Mother and a keen sensation that my body¬†was somehow¬†paving the way to embark on the most magical, miraculous journey of a lifetime.¬† That and I was constipated.¬†

So, sure enough, on April 12th at 3:42 in the morning I peed on a stick and learned my first baby would be coming to meet us in 9 short months.¬† Oddly enough, my first thought was, “Well, I’ll finally¬†have a little street cred when it comes to giving parenting advice.”¬† I was half asleep.¬† But then I got really excited and woke my husband up to share the news!¬†

We had our 12 week appointment a week ago¬†and heard a good, strong heart beat on the doppler.¬† Our midwife offered to give us a non-formal ultrasound so we could see if it even slightly resembled a human yet, and it did!¬† The head to torso ratio was 1:1, but by golly it was cute!¬† And it was ACTIVE!¬† It was literally¬†swimming from one side of the amniotic sac to the other, flipping and wiggling all over the place.¬† Not even out of the womb and already a ham for the camera…I love this kid!¬† Our baby looked like it had ants in its pants.¬†¬† Ha!¬† Wouldn’t that be hilarious if he had tiny little pants on in there? Ahhhh…I’ve had a really hard time sleeping the past few weeks, so unfortunately my sense of humor is regressing pretty severely.

Anyway, this is certainly a whole new world for me.¬† The first trimester was a bit of an ordeal: I could barely keep anything down besides tortilla chips and pickle juice, which in turn caused a great amount of stress.¬† I thought for sure I was going to give¬†this kid¬†spina bifida¬†or something horrible because all I could eat was salty, empty calories.¬† Then I started stressing because I was stressed, thinking that my¬†anxiety would¬†turn my child into a neurotic, high-strung¬†worrier!¬† The books I read were no help either.¬† After leafing through one chapter of What to Expect When You’re Expecting I felt the book should be subtitled A Detailed Account of Everything That Could Possibly Go Wrong With Your Pregnancy.¬† Enjoy!¬† I thought merely laying off booze, cigarettes and crack-cocaine would be enough to support a healthy womb environment, but I was learning I couldn’t be more wrong!¬† I began to think that even the slightest bit of caffeine would send my unborn child spiralling into a speed addiction, and that coming within 80 feet of a cat would cause it to sprout a second head.

My mother, bless her heart, reassured me that the baby was fine and that I just needed to relax.¬† She reminded that there will always be something to worry about when your child is involved and if I didn’t learn to chill out I’d have an aneurism¬†before the kid got to college.¬† Breeeeaaaaaathhhhhe.

My mama, like all good moms I’m sure, have some truly sound parenting advice to share with expectant parents.¬† And I’d say from this post it’s pretty obvious that I could use some good, sound pregnancy and parenting advice.¬† So Bo Bryson, owner of Trinity Chiropractic and husband to circle ME’s owner Jennifer (who’s also expecting…told you!¬† It’s the tap water!) came up with a super fun idea:¬† come in to circle ME any time we’re open from Monday, June 13th – Monday the 20th with your best advice for me written on a piece of paper.¬† That printed advice will act as coupon good for 15% off your entire purchase that day!¬† You can bet that some of my favorites will end up on this blog ūüôā


“Prenatal U” May 24, 2011

Filed under: Pregnancy and Birth — My Natural Family @ 11:18 am

My mind is officially boggled.¬† I received an email this morning ¬†from “Baby Plus: The First-Ever¬†Prenatal Education System” (how this company got my email I have no idea) and was greeted by the heading “Our patented prenatal curriculum is designed to strengthen your baby’s learning capabilities with naturally derived audio lessons.¬† For your child, the developmental benefits of BabyPlus last a lifetime.”¬† Prenatal curriculum?¬† I was curious as to what these¬†life-changing lessons were that¬†couldn’t possibly wait until the kid was at least born, so I clicked on the link.

Here is a company selling moms-to-be an audio system¬†that hooks up to their blossoming bellies.¬† For two one-hour sessions per day, a rhythmic sound is delivered to the baby that…get this…mimics the sound and pattern of Mommy’s heartbeat.¬† Apparently, the fetus learns to discriminate between the artificial heart tones and their mother’s actual heartbeat and thus, their developing brain changes in a way that makes them more ready to learn vast amounts of information when they’re born.¬† All this for the low introductory price of $149.00 plus shipping and handling?¬† What good mother could say no?¬†

I like to approach things with an open-mind, so I went to the testimonials page (under the “What Is It?” tab) to see what test subjects were saying about this pre-natal learning tool.¬† Parent after parent was praising the system, citing their child’s ability to self-soothe at a younger age, their advanced interactive personality, their ability to reach milestones earlier and their increased attention spans.¬† Hmmm…maybe I would be short-changing my child if I didn’t get this product.¬† After all, what kind of¬†mother would I be if I didn’t do everything in my power to assure that my child would have all the opportunities to get a head start in life?¬† Then I noticed the varying career titles that these parents held:¬†Registered Nurse, Licensed Psychotherapist, Author, Molecular Biologist, Teacher, Pediatrician, Pediatric Physical Therapist, Medical Doctor.¬† I began to wonder if this BabyPlus¬†really¬†did much of anything to add to the learning capabilities of¬†a child who was the genetic¬†offspring of incredibly intelligent individuals, and raised by people who already specialized in children’s development.¬† If there was a parent on there who had never graduated high school and¬†claimed something like, “I didn’t really spend any time with my kids when they were growing up, and I don’t pay much attention to them now, but I did sit for two hours a day with that monitor on my stomach while I was pregnant.¬† Now I hear my kid’s¬†getting straight A’s¬†in school, is popular with both his peers and teachers, and is class president,” then I’d whip out my credit card and call the 1-800 number .¬†

I’m pretty quick to believe though, that it’s what you do with your child after they’re born that makes the largest differences in their learning capabilities.¬† This is not to negate pre-natal care and nutrition, of course.¬† Those are definitely huge factors in the formation of your little baby’s brain.¬† And it’s certainly not to diminish the beauty and wonder of bonding with your baby before they’re born.¬† My mom said she read “Did I Ever Tell You How Lucky You Are?” by Dr. Seuss almost every day to me while I was in her tummy.¬† After I was born, when she’d read that story to me I would sit completely quiet and engaged the entire time, like I was remembering something really important.¬† Now I can’t wait to do the same for my future babies.

Of course every parent wants to give their children the best possible advantages in life, but after visiting this website I’d like to pose a question:¬† how fuzzy is the line between wanting to nurture your child’s growth, and wanting to create a being that will make you proud because they’re ahead of every other child in their age-bracket?


Why Home Birth? More like Why NOT Home Birth! February 28, 2011

Filed under: Pregnancy and Birth — My Natural Family @ 5:22 pm

We had our first-ever class all about the benefits of home birth at the store on Saturday¬†and it was AWESOME.¬† I’ll start off by saying I was a huge home-birth-nay-sayer not too long ago.¬† I thought it¬†was a novel idea,¬†but the perceived degree of danger I had associated with giving birth made it seem like an irresponsible, life-threatening choice that only the craziest of parents would make.

Then I educated myself.

Turns out if you are healthy woman, giving birth without surgery or pain killers is pretty risk-free.¬† Our bodies were designed to do it.¬† It’s nature.¬† There is a reason our species survived for so long before we started giving birth in hospitals.¬† Now it is a fact that home birth is not for every one, and there’s nothing wrong with that.¬† Some women will¬†truly have high-risk pregnancies if they encounter such health problems as gestational diabetes, high blood pressure, hemophilia, or preeclampsia¬†to name a few, and in these cases any good midwife will test you for such problems and disqualify you as a candidate for a home birth.¬† In cases such as these, I thank God every day for advances in modern medicine and skilled surgeons who can perform cesarian-sections on women who in earlier times would have either lost their life, their baby’s life, or both.¬† There’s also the simple fact that you might be too nervous or anxiety-ridden about the idea of having a birth at home, in which case the calming effects of home-birth would be completely negated it just wouldn’t be worth it.

That being said,¬†the truth of the matter is that¬†most women don’t need these modern medical interventions.¬† Our media has taught us to believe that labor is an unbearable pain that¬†no sane woman would want to endure, and that giving birth is one life-threatening disaster after another just waiting to happen.¬† If you watch “Deliver Me” or “A Baby Story” you know exactly what I’m talking about.¬† Crazy¬†thing is,¬†more often than not¬†it are these very¬†“advances” in medicine that cause problems during labor that otherwise wouldn’t have happened.¬† Here’s how it goes down: you come in to the hospital at the beginning of your labor.¬† The nursing staff offers you an epidural right away.¬† This epidural causes your contractions to stop so they give you pitocin¬†to increase them again.¬† The more intense contractions caused by the pitocin¬†makes you want to beg for another epidural and they give it to.¬† Guess what?¬† Your contractions lessen again they give you more pitocin.¬†¬†This continues and the up-and-down internal¬†environment¬†is causing your baby’s heart-rate to drop.¬† Because you are on a constant fetal heart monitor, your doctor says this drop in heart rate means your baby is distressed; the cord could be wrapped around his neck and we’ve got to get him out as soon as possible!¬† An emergency c-section is performed, and everyone says “Thank God the doctor was here to save your baby’s life.” (As a little side note, the cord being wrapped around your baby’s neck doesn’t mean anything.¬† Babies don’t breathe through their mouth/lungs in utero, so as long as the umbilical cord isn’t compressed in a way that cuts blood flow to the baby, it could¬† be wrapped around your baby’s entire body and it wouldn’t cause any danger…but I digress.)

This is not to paint doctors and nurses as evil-doers lurking at your bedside, trying to get you to have the scariest experience of your life.¬† I’d say just about all of them are wonderful people who want what’s best for you and your baby.¬† Only problem is, they are trained to believe that what’s best for you and your baby is as much intervention as possible.¬† They are taught how to handle emergencies and disastrous¬†mishaps that can occur during birth (thank goodness, right?) but with that are taught that every pregnancy should be treated as high-risk.¬† And if you want to have a totally natural birth, good luck.¬† Nature takes a while…sometimes with her first child a woman’s labor can last over 72 hours…and hospital staffs do not want that.¬† Again, it’s not that they’re heartless, but hospitals¬†have¬†a business to run and you taking up a bed for 3+ days cuts in to their profits.¬† They’ll “kindly suggest” (and that’s putting it nicely) pitocin or even a c-section to get things moving, citing that if your labor is taking that long it means something is wrong and your baby’s health is in danger.

Now that’s not to say that a long labor never indicates something that’s wrong: you could have a calcified cervical band that keeps your cervix from dilating¬†past 7-8 inches in which case, yeah, you’re going to need a c-section because there’s no other way that kid’s getting out.¬† But for the times where there is nothing wrong and you want a totally natural birth, long labor and all,¬†you are going to have a hard time achieving this at a hospital.

So I suppose the question is, what happens should something like the aforementioned “band” occur, or, God-forbid, a prolapsed cord while at home?¬† You have a good midwife who also has a good, efficient transfer plan in place.¬† You prepare ahead of time and make a relationship with a doctor who will act as your back up in the hospital should you need them.¬† Occurences like these are VERY rare, but it is wise to plan for them.¬† At the end of the day, research shows that having a home birth, if you are in good health and attended by a certified professional, is just as safe as a hospital birth.

Why have my husband and I decided that a home birth is the¬† best choice for us?¬† Because¬†we want my husband to be involved in and needed during¬†the labor and birth, not relegated to a chair in the corner of the room.¬† Because I want to get to hold and breast feed my baby right after it’s born instead of¬†an hour later.¬† Because¬†we trust that my body is capable of doing what nature intended.¬† Because I want to be in the comfort of my own¬†home and feel like I am in control of what is going on with my body.¬† Like I said earlier,¬†home birth¬†is not the best¬†choice for everyone, and¬†no one should ever be made to feel guilty for making the choice that is best for their family (be it hospital or home).¬† But know that it is a choice…a perfectly legal choice even here in Nebraska where people will tell you otherwise…that is a beautiful, empowering option.


Loving You Comes Naturally… February 21, 2011

Filed under: Pregnancy and Birth — My Natural Family @ 5:19 pm

Let’s face it:¬† the Rhythm Method created in the 1930s has given¬†natural family planning a bad rap.¬† When used without error, this calendar-based method (which most consider obsolete) has a 98% success rate for women with perfectly regular cycles (but only a 65% user success rate)¬†and only a 55% success rate for women with irregular cycles.¬† Last time I checked, 55% was a solid F, and not many women have perfectly regular cycles.¬† Further more, if you’re trying to achieve pregnancy and aren’t having success, this method tells you nothing about what’s going on¬†in your body¬†or uncovers what the problem is!¬†

Enter the Natural Family Planning choices of today: just as effective as artificial contraceptives, but without the hormonal component (the pill) or the annoyance component (condoms).¬† We had a great class about the benefits¬†and of NFP¬†taught at the store on Saturday!¬† ¬†A certified NaPro¬†Technology Practitioner, Rosemary Clements, came in¬†and gave a presentation and answered questions all about the Creighton Model of NFP, a clinically proven, successful¬†method for either achieving¬†or avoiding pregnancy (99% success rate, even!).¬† The best part of this particular method is that there’s no daily temperature-taking, which can be a huge hassle for some (belive me: I tried the “Taking Charge of Your Fertility Method” and COULD NOT get up at the exact same time every morning to take my basal temperature).¬† With the Creighton Model, you simply chart your cervical mucus and are able to tell what days of the month you are either fertile or infertile.¬† This works for women who have irregular cycles, are breastfeeding, or are just coming off artificial contraceptives because it allows for each cycle¬†to vary in length and tells you accurately what days to either go-to-town (if you want a baby) or avoid the bedroom (if a baby is no-go for now).¬† This is great too because if you’re having a hard-time conceiving, a medical professional can look at your chart history and tell you what’s up with your body.¬† Certain charts are indicative¬†of having low progesterone, poly-cysctic-ovarian-syndrome¬†(PCOS),¬†and other various reproductive health problems.¬† A lot of doctors out there will just put you on the pill if your cycles are irregular, which takes care of the symptoms but not the problems.¬† Same thing with fertility treatments such as IVF: they’re only addressing the symptoms, don’t always work, lead to multiple births and premature babies,¬†and are RIDICULOUSLY expensive!¬† No thanks.

I think my favorite part of learning more about the Creighton Model (and just NFP in general) is¬†how much closer it brings a couple.¬†¬†The fact that the divorce rate among users of natural family planning is a mere 3% (compared to the depressing 60% among the country in general)¬†is a good indicator of how much it¬†needs communication, commitment and trust between partners to work.¬† It turns your relationship into¬†a partnership.¬† Both man and woman are actively responsible for avoiding or achieving¬†pregnancy together, not just the woman.¬† And when you’re trying to avoid pregnancy, a couple learns to appreciate each other in ways other than sexual intercourse during the woman’s fertile times¬†through what is called SPICE instruction.¬† SPICE is an acronym for Spiritual, Physical, Intellectual, Creative/Communicative, and Emotional and represents all aspects of a person’s sexuality.¬† The couple learns new ways to express these aspects of their¬†relationship to one another through communication, openness and trust and therefore build true intimacy that strengthens their bond and makes their sexual union all the more enjoyable and powerful.¬†¬† The couple begins to embrace the way they were created by working with their fertility instead of trying to suppress it.

Rosemary had such a great analogy for using artificial vs. natural¬†contraception:¬† “Knowing your body and when you can and can’t get pregnant is like having a wedding.¬†¬†You’ll invite someone who you know for sure can come; that’s like having sex when you’re fertile.¬† Then you’ll invite someone who you know for sure can’t come, but you still want them to know¬†you’d welcome them to your celebration; that’s like having sex when you’re not fertile.¬† Having sex with artificial contraceptives when you could be fertile is like telling someone, “I wanted to let you know I’m¬†having a wedding, but you’re not invited.”¬†‘ Perhaps this analogy strikes more of cord with believers of a higher power…they want to make sure God knows He’s always¬†invited…but the beauty of natural family planning is it’s a great tool for a couple regardless of their religious beliefs.¬† It educates the woman on her reproductive cycle and gives her control over her body.¬† It encourages trust and commitment.¬† It doesn’t mess with¬†a woman’s¬†hormone levels.¬† It is¬†inexpensive.¬† It basically rocks.