Sunday, March 27, 2011

Snack Bar Recipe (Video)

Hi green ones, this week I'd like to share a recipe for one of my favorite snack bars. I am a huge fan of Larabars, and although I'd like to have one, maybe two a day, they are a bit expensive. So instead of breaking the bank with buying these bars, I figured I'd go green and try making them at home. The recipe is super simple and only takes a few minutes to make.

Homemade Larabars!


Check out the video below to see how to make them.... 



Chocolate Coconut Snack Bars Recipe

1. In a food processor blend together cashews and walnuts until they resemble crumbs, now dump into a mixing bowl.

2. Now place 8 pitted dates in food processor with the 1 Tbs. raw chocolate powder and blend until it forms a large ball, put this in the mixing bowl.

3. With the blended nuts and dates now in the mixing bowl, add 1 Tbs. shredded coconut and then begin combining it with your hands. Mix until all the "crumbs" have been absorbed by the date mixture.

4. Spread out onto a piece of waxed paper and flatten out to your desired shape. Then cut and store in a plastic bag (wah wah wah...I know!) to keep fresh for about a week. I keep mine in my kitchen cabinet (at room temp), but you can keep them in the fridge if you would like.

5. Enjoy! *In case you're wondering about the nutritional info on a Larabar, they often have about 210-240 calories per bar.

Here's a link to the other two videos I've made since being pregnant:
-18 weeks and making a "Chocolate Ice Cream Smoothie"(...looking back I feel like I hardly look pregnant in this one-ha ha!)
-28 weeks and making a "Peachy Kale Smoothie"

38 Weeks!

While we're on the topic of pregnancy, I'm now entering into my 38th week! It seems as though she has really dropped this week because my shirts are sticking out farther than ever and my pants are sitting much lower on my hips than before. I'm also starting to feel some movements against my lower pelvic bones, almost like Baby Avery is practicing pushing with her head to get out and boy is she getting strong! Aside from her movement down, I bet she's grown quite a bit this week because I have been eating so much! I mentioned in the last post about how I eat every two hours, well now it's about every hour! What???!!!! Kind of crazy I know, but I do try to vary what I eat so I don't get too sick of food (that started to happen by Wednesday of this week). So I'll rotate something cooked or packaged (crackers, bean burrito) with something raw or fresh (banana, apple, or smoothie). I've found that if I have too much cooked or pre-packaged food (no matter how healthy and organic it is) I start to feel more tired and sluggish, so I mix it up by alternating it with something fresh or raw. Right now my main cravings are pasta and tofu...delicious!


Now although my "due window" is about two weeks away, I've started to feel some pre-labor warm ups from time to time. These are mainly in the form of tightening/pressure feelings in my lower abdomen that only last for about 10 seconds and happen once or twice a day. So, I'll say that things are warming up, but I don't particularly feel like labor is right around the corner (knock on wood-lol!). Have a great week and I hope you like the snack bar recipe posted above!

This post was also recently linked up to "Healthy Vegan Fridays" which you can find on any of these three blogs: Everyday Vegan GirlVeggie Nook, and Carrie On Vegan. So get your "vegan on" and check out some of these great recipes and vegan cooking tips!



Saturday, March 19, 2011

37 Weeks and Preparing for My Home/Waterbirth

Hey greenies, I'm moving right along in my pregnancy this week as I graduate into week 37! It's exciting to think that that in 3 weeks (give or take) we will be meeting our baby girl! We're beyond excited and we can't wait to just see what she looks like, to hold her, and to learn all about her! As you can see my belly is growing at record speed since we took the last belly pics 2 weeks ago, and it seems to be quite the "eye magnet" and conversation starter when I'm out and about.

37 weeks
From people asking me when I'm due, to parents telling their kids, "That lady's going to have a baby!". It's been kind of funny, and a bit odd to feel like all eyes go right to my belly, but I don't mind. Most people are very nice about it and it kind of reminds us how we are all connected (and at one point in our own mother's tummies!).




One main change I've noticed in the past week or two is a huge increase in my appetite. I hinted at this increased hunger in last week's post, but boy has it grown this week. I eat about every 2 hours at this point and Brandon and I have even coined some funny names for all my extra meals and snacks (courtesy of The Office's "The Delivery" episode) such as: "second dinner" and "second lunch" and one of my favorites, "3 AM early breakfast!". Sometimes it seems like eating actually makes me MORE hungry...what's that about?!!! Especially when I just eat a single piece of fruit like a banana or an apple, it just fuels the fire for more food! Any other mamas out there remember this pregnancy hunger?

Speaking of food, since I've been spending a lot of time in the kitchen I've noticed that my belly is making it a bit harder to wash dishes and chop veggies since it sticks right into the top of our counter tops! Kind of funny! Let's just say that I've adapted a new "sideways stance" you can see below when I'm cooking, chopping, and washing dishes in the kitchen now. ( : 

Kind of hard to wash dishes now!

Rockin' the "Sideways
Stance"
So this week I'd like to share some of the ways we've been preparing for the home/waterbirth I talked about back in this post. Now it may seem like a lot of work to get all of these supplies purchased and in order for the birth, but I don't mind one bit. I love that I've had the freedom to choose and buy these things on my own, instead of the hospital or a nurse deciding for me. So instead of seeing this prep time as a burden, I've been loving it and so has my "nesting brain"!

So let me run through the list of things my midwife suggested for us to get in order to have our home/waterbirth. I'm sure this is not a complete list by any means, as most things would already be present in our home such as snacks, trash bags, blankets, etc. Also, since this my first home/waterbirth, I'm sure there will be things I'm forgetting or that we left out, but for now this list has been a great place to get us started. So here we go...

1. Tub for Waterbirth. This probably a pretty obvious must-have item since I would like to labor and possibly give birth in the water, so after comparing some of the waterbirth tubs, I found this one that I liked on Yourwaterbirth.com. It's called a, "La Bassine Eco Birthing Pool" and I chose this one for a number of reasons: it's green (made from eco-friendly vinyl with no phthalates, lead or cadmium), and it's easy on the "green" (only costing about $125...some on the website were over $200!). Also, if you browse around on the website, you'll see that they have a variety of liners for the birth tubs, but if you are the only person that is going to be using the birth tub (as I am), you don't need a liner!
My waterbirth tub

Time to pump it up.
After my tub arrived I pumped it up with a simple foot pump that came with my exercise ball. Granted they have other more heavy duty or automatic pumps you can buy, but my simple foot pump worked just fine. It took me about a half hour total to pump the whole thing up...I started with the bottom of the pool and then did the sides, as the instructions suggested. Yes, the pumping motion got a bit repetitive, but I just saw it as a mini-workout!

After pumping it up, we got ready to do a trial run with it and fill it up with water, which leads me to some more supplies you need (that are not included in the purchase of the tub!)...a hose and faucet adapter to connect the hose to your water source. I think the hose Brandon got from the local hardware store was something like this, and the key things we looked for were: for "hot water", "drinking water", and "lead-free". You can see the hose in pics below. As for the faucet adapter, we got something like this one to the right, that connects to our water source: a shower head down the hall. (On a side note, we also have a digital thermometer that we will be using to monitor the temperature of the water throughout the birth so that we can make sure the water is not too hot or too cold for Baby Avery and I!)
Hose adapter
Then it was time to try it out! After first blowing it up, I took it up to our bedroom (it's actually very light so don't worry that I was straining myself too hard to carry it!) and tried it in a few positions, but it didn't fit quite right. This threw me for a loop a bit because I have been picturing that we would have the birth in our bedroom for many months now because we've got a bathroom in there, our bed, and there's just something kind of private about being in your own bedroom, as opposed to your living room or kitchen! So this left me scratching my head...where else in our house would I have the birth? Then it dawned on me...what about Avery's room? I carried the tub in there and it fit perfect, plenty of space all around! I then closed the shades, turned off the lights, turned on some of my fav flameless candles, and cranked up some relaxing music on my iPod dock and I was sold! This is where I want to have the birth! Another fun thing about being in that room is seeing all the fun projects and work that we've done preparing for her arrival over the past 9 months, and for her to be born in that room feels very special and right to me. Although this pic doesn't do the "vibe" of the room justice, you kind of get the idea.
The trial run
So, now that the location was decided, it was time to try it out! Turn on the hot water Brandon and let this pregnant mama relax! As green as I am, you know I didn't want to fill the water all the way up to the recommended line just for this trial run, but nonetheless I wanted to see how it felt, so we went about halfway. Once it was ready, I climbed in! We turned off the lights and turned on all my "mood-setters" (candles, music, etc.) and then I relaxed for a little bit. The tub was so comfortable compared to our bathtub, mainly because it was so soft from being inflated. One of my favorite things was the floor of the tub, because it has it's own inflation and as a result, you feel like your sitting on lots of pillows (not a hard, cold, bathtub floor). Two other features I love about this tub are it's cocoon-like shape, and high walls, both of which make it feel more private and safe...not just out in the open.

Fill it up!
Once the trail run was over...bummer...we tried draining it. This took a little bit more experimenting, but eventually we figured out a "siphon-method" where the water can drain from our upstairs down and out of the house. There are fancy pumps that drain the water out of the tub, but since we were able to get the water out with our "free" method, we're sticking to it!

The nice, soft floor of the tub.
One last thing about the tub is that even though I'm a planner and I'd love to leave the tub all pumped up and ready to go, I found out that you actually want to deflate it a little bit if it will be a few weeks before your birth. Apparently it taxes the seams of the tub too much to have it filled to it's max, 24/7 for weeks at a time. So when you go to fill it with water on your baby's birthing day, you may find that the seams just give way and snap from the constant pressure. Well, I definitely don't want that to happen, so I've deflated some air from both the sides and the bottom of the tub, and surely it should only take up 5-10 minutes once it's time for the birth to fill it back up to maximum fullness. Alright...enough about the pool!



Let's move on to the other supplies I got to help prepare us for our homebirth:

2- Lots of towels! This was actually kind of fun to do, because how often do you get to buy new towels? I don't know about you, but as long as it still dries me off after a shower, then I'm happy with it...never mind that I've had it for 2-3 years! But I saw this as a chance to upgrade and get some fun, new, soft towels and boy did I have some luck at Bed, Bath & Beyond! I got about 6 or so new towels to help us get ready for the birth and although we probably already had plenty of towels to use, it was a nice excuse to go out and get some new ones...they rock! I can't believe I've waited so long to get new ones!

3. Extra Wash Cloths- Got a few of these standard wash cloths from Bed, Bath & Beyond while I was stocking up on towels, but the other stack of wash cloths is actually bamboo wipes my aunt got me for Avery's Baby Shower off my Etsy Favorite list. These bamboo wipes are amazing and super soft. I will definitely use them any day over traditional wash cloths when it comes to giving Avery a bath. Here is a link to the exact product on Etsy where you can purchase your own (there are 6 stitch colors to choose from) and to read up on the benefits of using bamboo! I can't wait to use these on Baby Avery and maybe for myself! Thanks again Aunt Cathy! ( :


4. Sports bra/Nightgown for labor and birth. Just like many aspects of my birth, there are many things that I am unsure of...will I want lots of natural light or very dark with just a few candles? Will I want relaxing music or will I be rocking out to Eminem? Will I be snacking the whole time or will the thought of food make me want to throw up? I have no idea! The same question comes up about what I will want to wear during the labor and birth? My go-to outfit around the house right now is my favorite pair black yoga pants and one of my maternity tank tops. But since I may want something with a bit more room to move around and have access to a baby potentially coming out, I thought it was time to get a new night gown of some sort.

My vision was basically like a really long tank top that's kind of form fitting (ask anyone that knows me well, I do not like baggy clothing one bit...especially now that I'm pregnant!). I'm happy to say I found it at Target, here's a link to it! It's even called a tank dress...love it! Granted, I wasn't feeling the "ankle-length" cut, so my awesome seamstress grandma helped me hem it up to a nice length right above my knee. As to whether I'll actually wear it (or the other two back sports bras/swim suit tops that I have pictured here) I have no idea, but at least I have some options to choose from!


5. 2 large vinyl tablecloths with thick white backing. Kind of a boring item on the list, but very important nonetheless, as these will be going under the water tub in Avery's room to protect the carpet from getting wet. Since they smelled "very plasticy" I've been "off-gassing" them in my garage for the last week or so that way they don't reek of plastic when it's time to use them.


6. Extra set of sheets for our bed. This is kind of like the towels I mentioned above in how, I can't believe we've gone so long without a second set of sheets for our bed? Granted we've never had kids before so there hasn't really been any reason to need a back up set of sheets immediately. I mean if they get dirty or it's time to wash them, I simply wash them in the morning and put them back on before bedtime, simple enough right?! But now that Avery's coming along, it feels good to know we have a back up sheet just in case.



7. Epsom salt for postpartum bath- I personally have never taken an epsom salt bath, but after my midwife suggested it for after the birth, I've been researching it and it seems like a pretty beneficial thing to do, not only after the birth, but for other general health reasons. Click here to read up on it more. I'll post back after I try it. Anyone else every take epsom salt baths before? If so, share below!



8. Package of maxi pads for postpartum- If this is TMI for you skip ahead to the next section, but for those of you that are interested let me tell you about an alternative to traditional maxi pads that I will be trying. I'm not really a fan of plastic traditional maxi pads, and so I chatted with my midwife about a "green alternative" and she suggested these cloth pads. They come from this awesome company called, "Mommy and Me Creations" that creates something called, "Heavenly Cloth Menstural Pads" which are made from organic hemp fleece. They have a very detailed and thorough description of their product on their website that I encourage you to read if you're interested. The colored portion is a panty liner with the snap, and the white portion is the part that touches you. You can see what one of the inserts (that are inside of all the pads) looks like at the bottom of the pic. We'll see how they work out for after the birth!


9. Obvious baby items...diapers, clothes, receiving blankets. As you can imagine we are pretty good on all those things at this point!

So that's about it, and as I mentioned above, I'm sure there may be things I'm forgetting or leaving out, but I'll do a follow up after the birth and let you know then! Has anyone else had a home or waterbirth that you prepared for on your own? Please share below...

Sunday, March 13, 2011

36 Weeks and Nesting

Okay so last week I said I was done nesting and now I'm just "preparing"...well I was wrong. I am in full "nesting mode" over here. I think I didn't quite understand the meaning of nesting until this week, and let me tell you, it's not preparing. Preparing is when you chop the veggies for dinner that night, or when you pack your clothes for a trip. Nesting has got to be like preparing...times 10! Here's how I know the difference. Usually I would look at what we had left to do for Avery's room or to get ready for her arrival and say, "Oh okay we just need to get the stroller, bath tub, and some towels. That's cool, we'll get them soon." Now when I say things to myself like, "Okay we've got the stroller, bath tub, and towels. What else? Does she need socks? Do babies wear socks? Don't they just kick them off? Now what about her clothes, do we have the right sizes? What if she's tiny and I don't have enough "newborn" sizes, or what if she's big and I don't have enough "big" sizes? Or what about long sleeved oneseis? I don't think I have enough of those...will it be cold here in April?"

Get the point...that's my brain in nesting mode...whew just typing that wore me out! Luckily I have Brandon to calm me down and say things like, "We're fine, she's got everything she needs. If there's something we really need, we can just go out and buy it. No big deal." Thank goodness there's a calm one in this situation because it's not me! Aside from Brandon's calming words, I've gotten relief from "nesting brain" by doing the following things: crossing things off my "nesting list," doing my HypnoBirthing 25 minute relaxation, and coming up with affirmations like: "I am fully prepared for my baby's birth. I have everything I need for my baby. My research, planning, and preparing are all paying off now that my baby is here."

Speaking of crossing things off my nesting list, one of those has been to wash all of Avery's clothes and blankets. I do this primarily so that I can get all the toxic detergent, perfumes, and other chemicals used to treat her clothes from the time they were made to the time I put them in my drawers. Granted a good portion of her clothes are organic, but still I just like knowing that they've been washed in my eco-friendly, fragrance-free detergent so they're nice and fresh on her soft, sweet, sensitive baby skin. Although doing laundry sounds like a chore, it's not when you get to pull cute little things out of the laundry basket like this adorable "Go Green!" onesie that two of my co-workers got me.  How adorable is that thing?! I think they know me pretty well! It was funny taking all these clothes out of the dryer because when I went to empty the lint tray, it was nearly all pink! Usually it's blue or gray from all our jeans and darker colored clothing, but pink is definitely making it's way into this house!

Baby laundry time!

Another nesting thing that we've been doing is putting together and trying out some of her "baby gear"! This week her stroller/carseat arrived and we had fun putting it together, installing the base into the car, and trying it out. Figuring out all the latches, buckles, and clips is a bit confusing since we've never done it before, but as you can see from the pics we've been practicing.


Also, it's been helpful for our dogs to get used to some new things around the house, like a stroller, bouncer, and soon....a baby! Both of them are usually pretty chill about new things we bring into the house and after a few sniffs, they just lay back down and let it be.


 

One of our dogs, Jackson, has taken a special liking to the stroller as you can see in the pic below because we often find him laying by it and in this pic it looks like he's smiling as he "protects" it. We think they're going to do a great job once Avery is born!


Here's some other funny things that are going on with my pregnancy:

-Feeling very hungry! I feel like I have the appetite of a growing teenage boy (or just a pregnant lady) in how I am hungry all the time! Starting about Wednesday of last week, I really noticed my appetite increase because I felt hungry earlier than usual throughout the day. I tend to be most ravenous in the afternoons leading up to dinner, but luckily after dinner I'm usually good to go for the night. Little Avery must be doing some growing in there because her size now is up to a watermelon for this week...wow! Also, I just had an appointment with my midwife today and I'm measuring right at about 37 cm, which is right on track since I'm going into my 37th week of pregnancy (I've grown 2 cm since we met last at week 35). Let's just say her growing proof is in the numbers!


-Driving very cautiously. Another thing I've noticed is that I've really been extra careful when driving lately. Not like I go 10 under the speed limit or anything, but let's just say a yellow light means "Stop" to me now...not "Gun it!". The same goes for when I need to pull out onto a road or lane, if I can even sense a car is coming, I'll wait till they pass and then go. Not really sure why I'm being so cautious all the sudden, maybe fear of getting into a wreck and Avery getting hurt, but my "Mama Bear" sense is definitely in full swing now. Any other moms remember feeling this way?

So that's about it for my update this week and with about 4 more weeks to go, let the nesting...and RELAXING continue! ( :

Saturday, March 5, 2011

35 Weeks, Baby Shower, and HypnoBirth Update

Hello my blogging friends, I had a fun and exciting week this week not only because I'm one week closer to meeting Baby Avery, but also because I had a baby shower for her put on by my colleagues at my work. It took place at a local Mexican restaurant (where I could get some delicious vegan fare...rice, beans, chips, salsa, and guacamole-yum!) one day after school, and it sure was one fun and memorable night.



One of the highlights of the shower was the cake that my para, and dear friend Erin (as seen in the pic with me) baked and decorated. If you've been following my blog you may recognize the design of the cake, since it is the same cherry blossom tree and monkey that my mom painted above the crib in Avery's room! Not only did this cake look amazing... it tasted amazing and was gluten-free and vegan! Erin you rock! You may remember seeing her superb baking skills back in this post where she made our gender reveal cake.

The inspiration for the cake.

Love that cute little monkey!
Overall the shower was such a fun and exciting experience and I was truly blown away by the kindness and support of my staff. Many people put in to get some of the big items off my baby registry, and as a result I got: a bouncer, a rock 'n play sleeper, a high-tech baby monitor, and even a car seat/stroller combo! Anyone out there who's ever had a baby knows just how much these must-have items can add up and the fact that my staff pitched in and got some of these bigger items really means so much to Brandon and I. Some other fun gifts I got were: baby board books, organic onesies and pajamas, gift cards, and some green baby food making products (Green Sprouts Silicone Baby Food Freezer Tray and Food Mill, and BPA free Stackable Food Containers), just to name a few. Again, a big thank you to everyone who made it out to the shower and for those who went in on the group gift...I am so touched by the overwhelming support I received from you all and I can't imagine working anywhere else! Here are some pics below from the shower:

Everyone enjoying some yummy chips and salsa.
A fun photo album.
The "Newborn Rock N' Play Sleeper"
Fun baby books.
Cute reusable bag!
Chatting with my collages.
They sure know how to make me smile!

Yummy gluten-free, vegan cake!

Now onto more pregnancy details, I'm now into my 35th week of pregnancy and after the baby shower the other night I feel quite an urge to get everything all in place and ready for Avery to be born. Usually this is called "nesting" but I've about "nested" the heck out of my house and Avery's room (since I've had a total of 10 snow days since January!) and so now I'm just "preparing".

35 weeks
Since I'm planning on having a home water birth there are several supplies that I need to buy and have ready (I will post about these soon) and so I've been shopping and crossing them off my list one by one. Also, since my belly continues to grow bigger and stick out further as you can see in these belly pics, my mom and I made a stop at Target last week for some new t-shirts and tanks (my favorite things to wear).


On another note, I've been feeling really good these days. I posted about some discomforts I was experiencing a few weeks ago in my hip and my difficulty fighting off a cold, but both symptoms have subsided. After meeting with our midwife earlier this week, I found out that Avery is now in a head-down position and as a result, she must be off whatever nerve was causing me such discomfort in my hip. So thank you for moving baby girl! I also started taking this homeopathic nose spray, and I think that's finally helped kick this cold to curb!
A view from above!

During this midwife appointment I also got my results back from some lab work I had done during week 34, and all of it turned out great! I had my blood and Rh type checked and it turns out I'm A+, so there is no need to check Brandon's blood type, or receive the Rhogam shot. Also, I had a GBS test (for group B streptococcus) and it was negative...which is a good thing, so I won't have to worry about passing any type of bacteria to Avery when she's born, or starting a round of antibiotics before she's born (the common treatment for testing positive to GBS). On top of this I had a few other general blood tests done, and they all came out fine, which I love hearing because it's proof that my gluten-free, vegan diet is giving me all the nutrients needed not only for me to be healthy, but for Avery to be healthy as well. Yeah, go vegan!

source
Another thing to update you on is our HypnoBirth practice. I say practice because our classes are now complete. I introduced you to HypnoBirthing in this post as well as recapped the first and second classes. But since then we've had 3 more classes. During class #3 we watched a number of birth videos and went through "Birth Preference Sheets" which is like designing your birth plan, and deciding what you want to have happen or not happen. Granted some of the things didn't apply to me since I'm having a home birth and I will already get to choose many aspects of my birth environment (like lights, sounds, food, and the people in the room), but it was still helpful to go through the list of preferences and see what options are out there. If you're a pregnant momma, here is a link to a website that lists a variety of birth preferences you could use to get to thinking about how you want your birth to look like.

During class session number 4, we talked about what it would be like leading up to labor and what to do when you notice the signs of labor starting. An important thing we reviewed was how we do not need to panic once our water breaks. Movies and TV shows have often "over dramatize" when a woman's water breaks and how she immediately has to rush to the hospital because the baby could be born any minute. Granted there could be rare cases I suppose where that could happen, but most of the time moms have plenty of time before the baby will be born so use this time to relax, take it easy, and enjoy knowing that you will be meeting your baby soon!

During class session number 5, we talked more about the actual "delivery portion" of birth as well as what happens after the birth, and some tips on breastfeeding. A fun aspect about this last class was that we got to hear from a couple who had just had a baby the month prior that used the HypnoBirthing techniques. I could really relate to them because she was a first-time mom and they had a home birth too. She described how one of the main tools she utilized from the classes was the importance of breathing, not necessarily "counting-breathing," but just breathing and letting yourself go into deeper relaxation. By hearing from this couple, the HypnoBirthing practice seemed so much more attainable and possible for us, just because it was no longer ideas and recommendations written in a book, it was something real that other people, just like us, had used and had success with.
Now that our classes are over, I continue my HypnoBirthing practice by doing the following things:
-Listening to the Affirmation track (which is found on the Rainbow Relaxation CD) once a day when I get ready in the morning. In the beginning this seemed corny and hokey, but now I love it and find myself saying the affirmations to myself throughout the day...like, "Heck yes, I'm going to have a calm, natural, easy birth!" Okay so that's not one of the affirmations used on the track, but I made it up and I like it, so I'm sticking with it!


-Relaxing for 25 minutes daily (usually right after I get home from work) and listening to the Gentle Surge music only track. When I first started practicing HypnoBirthing, I would listen to the Rainbow Relaxation track daily for my relaxation, but in class my instructor often used the Gentle Surge music track for our guided relaxations and since discovering it there I became hooked on it! The music is repetitive, unique, and flowing (I searched and searched the Internet to try and find a clip for you with no luck...wish you could hear it!) and I find that I go deeper into relaxation with it than I ever did with the Rainbow Relaxation track. So basically this is my go-to track for relaxation and I definitely plan on using it while I'm in labor.

So here I am to the left in relaxation mode in my bed. Usually I have a blanket over me, but I thought I'd show you just how many pillows it takes to for me to get comfy while I sleep...and the grand total: 5! Luckily we have several small throw pillows that I have been able to use to support my growing belly while I sleep. Usually I put one between my legs, one under my belly, one for me to kind of hold onto, and one behind my back. Kind of funny-huh?! I have to have my eye mask and iPod as well! Anyone else remember using lots of pillows during their pregnancy?

During my "Relaxation
Time".
During this time I also practice the breathing techniques I will call upon during labor, such as: sleep breathing (4 counts in, 8 counts out) and Surge Breathing (10 counts in and working to really expand my abdomen while inhaling, and 10 counts out to exhale). I find that focusing on my breathing helps quiet my busy and multitasking mind and as a result my body goes deeper into relaxation. Somedays I instantly fall asleep, and other days I feel restless and unable to relax, but either way, I feel good knowing that I'm putting in my time and conditioning my body and mind to relax, whether it's in the mood to or not, because I know it will be immensely helpful during my labor.

-Once a week I've been also trying to do my relaxation practice in my bathtub (I'm usually a shower girl!) this way I can get used to being in the water and relaxing there, since I plan to have a water birth. When doing this I turn off the lights, turn on some candles (I like flame-less candles) and get my HypnoBirthing Affirmation track going. Ahhhh.....the water feels so good, now if only I had a bigger bathtub that more comfortably fit my growing belly!

Flame-less candles I love!
Overall I feel like the classes really helped educate Brandon and I on what to expect during labor, birth, and afterwards...most of which we were kind of clueless about beforehand. Also, it helped teach me the importance of relaxing during birth and how by relaxing (and breathing) I can decrease tension, and thus reduce the pain typically associated with birth.

I think the classes were also helpful for Brandon because he now knows some ways he can help me achieve the birth we both want for Avery. In fact, we tried out a few strategies in class of how he, as the birth companion, can help me during labor, such as by: reading scripts, saying positive affirmations, or performing a light touch massage on me. The one we both enjoyed the most and that seemed the least awkward, was for Brandon to lightly touch my arm, leg, back or stomach in a repetitive type movement...back and forth or in circles usually (as you can kind of see from the pic to the right). Something about that really seems to bring me deeper into my relaxation, when used in combination with the Affirmation or Gentle Surge tracks. So it will be interesting if I call upon that strategy during Avery's birth or if I want something totally different. Either way, I feel so much more confident in my body, and my ability to give birth to my baby girl naturally after taking this course, so I am truly thankful that we decided to do it. I highly recommend the classes to anyone considering using HypnoBirthing during their baby's birth.

Light touch on my arm from my hubby.

Well, all this talk of HypnoBirthing and relaxing is making me sleepy, so my little cantaloupe and I (her size this week) are off to get in our "relaxation session" for the day! Lately, I've been trying to find relaxation positions that allow me to keep my hands on my belly during my relaxation because it's fun to feel her moving all around as I lay there quietly and motionless...and she's usually the exact opposite! It's like it's our time to connect...I just love it. Anyone else ever use HypnoBirthing in preparation for childbirth? If so, feel free to post below if it was helpful for you or how you practiced the techniques before labor.
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