Should YOU Be Weeding Out Wheat? {GIVEAWAY!}

Gluten-free. Celiac. Gluten intolerant. Wheat sensitive. These days, it seems like everyone is either cutting wheat from their diets or is suddenly being diagnosed with an intolerance or a disease. The food industry is catching on- there are whole sections of grocery stores devoted to gluten-free goods- you can find a gluten-free version of pretty much anything! So what’s the deal? Is there a real health risk, or is this simply the latest diet trend, based on little but anecdotal evidence?

This is definitely what I thought until I read Trisha and Luke Gilkerson’s latest book, Weeding Out Wheat. Throughout the book, Trisha and Luke take great care to unpack the research behind how wheat is processed by our bodies, how it is linked to difference health risks, and best of all- what the Bible has to say about wheat. For me, this has been a missing link in the wheat conversation- if God created wheat, how could it be detrimental to the health of so many?

I don’t know about you, but a good amount of my diet consists of things containing wheat- breads, pastas, cereals. We eat a very healthy, whole foods-based diet in our home, but those things are certainly still present. According to Trisha and Luke, the problem doesn’t exactly lie in the wheat itself- in fact, the wheat that the Lord created was nutritious and sustained His people through many hard times. The problem with wheat is that it has been so genetically modified from how it was created that it now is unrecognizable to our bodies- difficult to process, hard to extract nutrients from, and a source of intestinal distress. For many, sensitivities to wheat manifest much like an allergy- a mild skin rash, chronic congestion, headaches, brain fog, fatigue. In extreme cases, it can cause serious reactions, such as in the case of an extreme wheat allergy or Celiac disease.

Why does it seem that wheat sensitivities are becoming more common? Because our wheat is getting farther and farther from how wheat was originally created- and harder and harder for our bodies to process. The medical field is also becoming more aware of wheat as an issue- many more ‘mysterious’ illnesses, such as fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome, are now being linked to issues with wheat sensitivity. This is a great thing- people who have frustratingly suffered through years of debilitating conditions are now getting answers! But, these answers require a significant lifestyle change, as our diets are more and more consumed with wheat products.

Are you curious about a wheat-free lifestyle? Want to learn more about biblical wheat, how wheat has changed, and the health crises that wheat is causing in society today? I can’t recommend Weeding Out Wheat highly enough!

3 day sale

The best part- from now through January 1st, you can get the Kindle version for just $1.99! Or….you could possible get it for FREE! Check out the great giveaway below!

Enter the giveaway for a chance to win $600 worth of healthy living products!

For the next two days only, the book Weeding Out Wheat is on sale!

It's a New Year! Make some new changes with this awesome giveaway. AND Pick up a DISCOUNTED copy of Weeding out Wheat to find out why taking wheat out of your diet could make a huge impact. $600 value ends 1/7/14

Bulk Herb Store

Making Vegetables Vol. 1 Book and the Making Vegetables Seed Kit $120 value

PicMonkey Collage

Bulk Herb Store carries the finest organic teas, tinctures, spices, salves, and educational resources. Live and learn well with experienced herbalist, Shoshanna Easling’s free recipes, remedies, research aid, and educational DVDs at BULK HERB STORE. At the Bulk Herb Store we want to teach you what we know and inspire you to learn and research beyond that with our homemade concoctions, our experiences, and the tested wisdom of others. It is fun, easy, and above all, a great way to keep your family healthy and happy.


See package details below: $110 value


NuNaturals is an Oregon company serving our customers for 25 years with QUALITY, ALL-NATURAL products. We offer approximately 80 products from Bilberry to Xylitol.  Our Flagship Brand is NuStevia. These NON-BITTER Stevia products are available in convenient Packets for your “On-The-Go” needs and a full  line of Stevia Liquid Extracts you can measure by the drop. These products have ZERO calories and safe for Diabetics. NO artificial, anything, and we absolutely guarantee that what is on our label is contained in the product & NO more. We pledge the very best of customer service that matches the Quality of the products we offer.

  • 100 packet box NuStevia packets
  • Lemon NuStevia Liquid
  • Orange NuStevia Liquid
  • Peppermint NuStevia Liquid
  • Cherry Vanilla NuStevia Liquid
  • Alcohol Free Clear NuStevia Liquid
  • Cherry NuStevia Liquid
  • 2.75 oz bottle of NuStevia No Carb Powder
  • 1 pound package of NuGrains Oat Fiber
  • 8 oz package of  NuNaturals PreSweet Tagatose
  • NuStevia Vanilla Stevia Liquid

NuNaturals is offering a discount to all of my readers. Use the code: BLG0614 to receive a 15% discount your entire order (expires June 30, 2014). Online ordering customers may also receive free shipping to the continental U. S. on all orders exceeding  $ 35.00 after discounts.

Young Living Oils

Thieves Giveaway

Young Living Essential Oils is a leader in providing quality, therapeutic grade essential oils. They have helped to bring essential oil use back to modern times. There is almost an essential oil for anything and they can be used for health, cleaning, pet care and more. It is a comfort to have something on hand to deal with nearly any situation.

Redmond Trading Co.

Variety Pack from Redmond Trading (see details below): $64.00 value


Real products for real people. At Redmond we believe nature has it right with products–and that we can’t improve upon nature. This principle, and a passion for wellness, is the philosophy behind all of our Redmond products. We keep them simple, clean, and real–just the way nature intended.

  • 10 oz. Real Salt shaker
  • 4 oz. Real Salt Organic Seasoning shaker
  • Tube of Peppermint Earthpaste
  • Bottle of Redmond Clay Daily Detox
  • Tube of Redmond Clay Facial Mud


Button (1)

6 month subscription to Fit2B: $59.94 value

Fit2B offers wholesome workouts to the whole family. Stream affordable TummySafe™ fitness anywhere, anytime! With members worldwide, we provide unlimited access to almost 100 routines, and our family-friendly focus keeps things modest, safe and fun for all ages. We are passionate about standing in the gap for those who have been led to believe that they will always look pregnant or will always leak when exercising. We are here to let people know how to heal their split tummy muscles while offering ways to workout if you have a gap in your gut.

Artisana from Premier Organics

2 full sized jars of nut butters and an assortment of pouches: $55.00 value


Premier Organics, headquartered in Oakland, California and the makers of Artisana organic foods, was founded in 2002. With devotion to sustainable living and our community, we support the organic and living foods movement, the Earth and her forests. We try to buy our ingredients as close to the farmer as possible. In many cases we are able to buy straight from the organic farmers. It’s a choice. It’s how we operate. It’s how we live our lives.

The facility is free of peanuts, gluten, soy, and dairy and operates under strict food safety protocol.

Simple Mills

Variety pack of 2 of each of their 3 mixes (banana, pumpkin, and chocolate): $53.50 value


Simple Mills is a small business out of Atlanta that makes Almond Flour Muffin Mixes.  Unlike traditional gluten-free baked goods that are loaded with sugar or flours with a large blood sugar impact, Simple Mills products are made with low-glycemic flours and sweeteners (almond flour and coconut nectar).  The products are also gluten-free, grain-free, non-GMO, soy-free, and dairy-free!  In fact, the only ingredients in the mixes are almond flour, arrowroot powder, coconut nectar, aluminum-free baking soda, celtic sea salt, and a base (fair-trade cocoa, dried banana, or dried pumpkin – depending on the mix flavor).  No funny, hard-to-pronounce additives or unnatural ingredients!  And because the ingredients are loaded with vitamins, minerals, and nutrition, the products not only taste great, they also make you feel great! 

Bloom Naturals

Nourish body moisturizers and hand relief: $40 value

wpslider1 (1)

Welcome to Bloom Naturals, health food for skin! I am a homeschooling mother of 4 boys who was amazed to learn of all the harmful and useless ingredients found skin care. In my years of research to understand how ingredients are manufactured, extracted, and refined, I found a disconnect between the message companies were trying to send me with ingredients listed on their bottles. Many claim the safety of products but in most cases that is far from the truth. Out of frustration, I began to make my own products committing to being a company where my message of safe, healthy & effective aligns with each of the ingredients I use.

My soapbox is a passion for providing the healthiest, most effective products by using only ingredients found in nature, never a laboratory. Because I never add fillers (like water) or toxins, you are only paying for safe, beneficial & nourishing ingredients. Who doesn’t want that! 

Begin the journey of restoring dull, tired, aging, and irritated skin while enjoying 20% off your order as our gift to you. Use coupon code WOWBOOKLAUNCH for a 20% discount (expires January 15th).

Vision Herbs and Gifts

4 oz lotion of winner choice, 4 oz skin relief cream,1 lip balm of winners choice: $12.00 value

VH logo

Vision Herbs and Gifts is a small business run by a mother and daughter team located in small town Pennsylvania.  They make good for your skin lotions, creams, salves, lip balms, and herbal tea blends. 

Whole New Mom

4 oz bag of soap nuts: $8.10 value

Soap Nuts

Whole New Mom – No Nonsense Health in Today’s Toxic World with Special Diets, Whole Living, Autism, Autoimmune, and More. 

Facebook Party: January, 7 2014

Join us on Monday, January 6th for a facebook party and more chances to win prizes! We’ll be talking about the health changes you may see from taking wheat out of your diet as well as the challenges this may present. Be sure to follow Whole New Mom on facebook and join us for conversation and prizes from 7:30pm – 9:00pm.

Weeding Out Wheat Book Launch Facebook Party

Looking for Support & Encouragement in Wheat-Free Living?

Weeding Out Wheat Facebook GroupJoin the Weeding out Wheat facebook group. We offer encouragement, support, recipes, and information for those who are wheat-free veterans, newbies, and those who are just looking for information before diving in.

ALN’s Most Popular Posts of 2013

Hey friends!  Lexie from Lexie: Naturals is guest blogging today and sharing her round-up of the Top Posts of 2013 from the Alternative Living Network! Hope you enjoy 🙂
ALN's Most Popular Posts of 2013

I am so excited to share this post with you today!  I often find it difficult to keep up with all the bloggers that I follow.  Some post daily, and I just don’t have the time to read them all.  So, I got together with a few of my blogging friends to compile a list of our most popular posts from 2013.

The following list is divided into different categories, and it contains the top 2 most popular posts from more than 20 different bloggers!  Enjoy!


(Mostly) Real Food Recipes
Caramel Pecan Cups by The Ezer Wife
Homemade Cajun Seasoning by Lexie:Naturals
Premade Pancake Mix by The Homesteading Hippy
How to Eat Organically On a Budget by Live Essentially

The Best Crockpot Granola by Home With Purpose
Make Your Own Almond Extract by The Homesteading Hippy

Slow Cooker Zuppa Toscana by Joyful Thrifty Home

Freezing Fresh Herbs by A New (England) Life
Healthy Cauliflower Tots by Healthy Jasmine

GAPS Diet Stories (And a Birthday Cake Recipe) by Purposeful Nutrition

Nanny’s Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cake by Home With Purpose

Quinoa Burgers by Hippie KarMama

Drink Recipes

Sparkling Apple Cider Vinegar Water by More Than Mundane

Turmeric Lime Soda by It Takes Time

Skin Care
Oil Cleansing Method by Natural Living Mamma
DIY Raw Honey Lip Salve by Nourishing Faith and Family
Ginger Lime Coconut Body Scrub by More Than Mundane
Natural Health
Gut-Restorative Diets by It Takes Time
Birth, Babies, and Children
The Home and DIY 
Simplify Your Wardrobe by Richly Rooted

Farm Girl Apron Tutorial From Recycled Jeans by Creative Green Living

5 Simple Tips for the Housekeeping Challenged by Noursihing Faith and Family

Enzyme Cleaner by Hippie KarMama


Organize Your Pantry with Glass Jars (plus free printable) by Creative Green Living

Life Without a Microwave by A New (England) Life

Make Your Own Baby Carrier by A Little Bit of All of It

Gift Giving

100+ Stocking Stuffer Ideas by Titus 2 Homemaker

10 Religious Easter Basket Ideas by Simply Rebekah

Faith and Encouragement

11 Free Online Devotionals and Bible Study Resources by Joyful Thrifty Home

Keep Calm, You’re a Good Mom by Live Essentially

31 Days of Encouragement by My Blessings Homeschool

We hope that you enjoyed this round-up post!  Please remember that not all bloggers share the same platform or beliefs.  Just because one blogger expresses an opinion, does not mean it’s the opinion of us all.  You should also be aware that these posts are for entertainment purposes only.  While we do a ton of research before publishing an article, most of us are not doctors.  Please do your own research.  Also, please be aware that some of these posts do contain affiliate links, at no extra cost to you.  Thank you for your support. 

If you have a favorite blog post from this year, link it in the comments.

If you have a blog, link your most popular posts in the comments.

40 Ways to Induce Labor

40 Ways to Go Into Labor

Hey there friends!

As many of you know, my due date is fast approaching and we are busy preparing for our little girl to arrive. It’s funny how everyone starts coming out of the woodwork when it’s close to your due date- sharing their stories of how to get labor going, encouraging you to start early, etc. Unlike the necessary and good practice of preparing your body for birth, stimulating labor early isn’t necessary- the body will take care of it on it’s own when baby is ready! However, if you’re past due and getting desperate- here’s a great list of supposed ways to induce labor- from the commonly practiced to the ridiculous. Enjoy!

Please know that I am not a medical professional, and I am not attempting to give medical advice. Please only use these methods under the supervision of your birth professional. Also, some affiliate links are used- no charge to you, but supports this little blog! Thanks!

Running UP Steps
Jumping Jacks
Walking curbs (one foot on, one foot off, switch sides often)
Walking sideways up stairs
Use a breast pump (fave)
Nipple Stimulation
Foot/Ankle Massage
Driving on train tracks
Bounce on a birth or exercise ball (fave)
Hula Hoop (super cheap!)
High knees
Jump on a trampoline (low cost option)
Tell your body to go into labor/focus energy
Don’t think about going into labor (ha!)
Rub your belly in a clockwise circle for 1 min, then do lunges for 3 min, repeat

Membrane sweeping
Induction Massage

Spicy Food
Labor Cake
Eggplant (particularly eggplant parmesan)
Eating until you’re stuffed
Balsamic Vinegar (this one is great & a great value)
Certain dishes at specific restaurants (the “preggo pizza”)
Eating fresh pineapple (a lot of it)
‘The Huston Method’: Popcorn, Wine, Sex
Eating dates

Red Raspberry Leaf Tea
Evening Primrose Oil– taken orally or inserted vaginally
Herbal Tinctures or Supplements (black or blue cohosh, false unicorn)
Clary Sage Oil
Castor Oil

Have another suggestion you’d like to share? Leave it in the comments and I’ll add it to the list! 🙂

Great selection of bulk herbs, books, and remedies. Articles, Research Aids and much more.

ALN Best Pregnancy Posts of 2013

ALN's Best of Pregnancy Posts of 2013

Some of you may know that I am lucky to be a part of a beautiful blogging community called the Alternative Living Network.  Filled with bloggers who love Jesus and want to live a natural, Kingdom-minded lifestyle, I am endlessly thankful for the challenge and encouragement that they are to me!

This year, we are combining forces to bring you the best writings of 2013. You can see the other blogs (and subjects) involved at the end of the post, but for today, here are ALN’s Best Pregnancy Posts of 2013!

ALN's Best of Pregnancy Posts of 2013
Image Used With Permission From GrowingSlower

OB/ Midwife Interview Questions
Birth Center vs. Hospital
Extending Grace to Mainstream Birth Professionals
Childbirth Class Options (And What We Chose)
Why We’re Using Midwives
Changing Your Prenatal Care

ALN's Best Pregnancy Posts of 2013

Preparing the Body for a Natural Birth
Touch Me, Touch Me Not: Labor and Touch
Packing a Bag for a Natural Birth

ALN's Best of Pregnancy Posts of 2013
Image Used With Permission From Modern Alternative Pregnancy

Thoughts on Circumcision
Newborn Procedures: Hepatitis B
90 Seconds That Could Change Your Baby’s Life

ALN's Best of Pregnancy Posts of 2013
Image Used With Permission From Georgetown MN

Red Raspberry Leaf Tea for Postpartum Use
Hello Baby, Goodbye Hair
How to Make a Ring Sling

ALN's Best of Pregnancy Posts of 2013
Image Used With Permission From Breastfeeding Place

I Will Breastfeed On Demand (A Poem)
Changes in Breast Milk During Pregnancy
Does Your Care Provider Support Breastfeeding?
Can You Get Pregnant While Breastfeeding?

ALN's Best of Pregnancy Posts of 2013

Happy Birthday, Sweet One: A Birth Story
Surprising Birth Statistics
Sleep, Stress, and Stretch Marks: Surviving Late Pregnancy
DIY Pregnancy Tea Blend
Surviving the First Trimester Naturally
Pregnancy and the Beauty of Grace
Blessingsway Ideas: Bridging the Cultural Gap

To see more Best of 2013 Round-ups, make sure to check out the following blogs between 12/23 and 12/31!

Whole Intentions

Feed Me, Mama

It Takes Time

The Entwife’s Journal

The Ezer Wife

Your Thriving Family

Nourishing Simplicity

Richly Rooted

Joyful Thrifty Home

Day 2 Day Joys

Wisdom Seeking Mommy

Natural Momma in Progress

Accidentally Green

Georgetown MN

Growing Slower

Imperfect Homemaker

Simple Life Abundant Life

Natural Living Mamma

Whole New Momma

Nourishing Faith and Family

ALN Best Home Remedies of 2013

ALN's Best Home Remedies of 2013

Some of you may know that I am lucky to be a part of a beautiful blogging community called the Alternative Living Network.  Filled with bloggers who love Jesus and want to live a natural, Kingdom-minded lifestyle, I am endlessly thankful for the challenge and encouragement that they are to me!

This year, we are combining forces to bring you the best writings of 2013. You can see the other blogs (and subjects) involved at the end of the post, but for today, here are ALN’s Best Home Remedies of 2013!

Oil Pulling: Your New Daily Routine
What is Oil Pulling?
Establishing a Daily Routine with Essential Oils
Foraging for Wild Edibles
5 Steps to Building the Best Collection of Oils for YOUR Family
Autumn Tonic Tea

ALN Best Home Remedies of 2013 (Elderberry Syrup)
Image Used with Permission from Nourishing Faith & Family

A Guide to Elderberry Syrup (Plus 8 Recipes!)
Elderberry Syrup
Preventative Measures for Winter Health
Surviving the World’s Worst Cold Season
Home Remedies for Cold and Flu
The Cold Buster
Easy Detoxifying and Healing Morning Elixir
DIY Herbal Vapor Rub- Crock Pot Method

ALN Best Home Remedies of 2013 (Owie Balm)
Image Used With Permission From Your Thriving Family

Heal a Spider Bite With a Potato
Healing Bug Bites
Owie Balm Recipe

ALN's Best Home Remedies of 2013 (Remove a Mole with ACV!)
Image Used With Permission From Don’t Waste The Crumbs

For Pregnancy: Blend-It-Yourself Pregnancy Tea
For Chicken Pox: Made Up Chicken Pox Salve
For Dry Skin: Dry Itchy Skin Remedies
For Mole Removal: How to Remove a Mole With Apple Cider Vinegar
For Detoxification: 10 Day Water Fast

Great selection of bulk herbs, books, and remedies. Articles, Research Aids and much more.

To see more Best of 2013 Round-ups, make sure to check out the following blogs between 12/23 and 12/31!

Whole Intentions

Feed Me, Mama

It Takes Time

The Entwife’s Journal

The Ezer Wife

Your Thriving Family

Nourishing Simplicity

Richly Rooted

Joyful Thrifty Home

Day 2 Day Joys

Wisdom Seeking Mommy

Natural Momma in Progress

Accidentally Green

Georgetown MN

Growing Slower

Imperfect Homemaker

Simple Life Abundant Life

Natural Living Mamma

Whole New Momma

Nourishing Faith and Family

Our All-Natural Birth Plan

Our All-Natural Birth Plan

Given that our due date is so soon, we have been busy preparing for our baby to arrive! One of the most important tools, especially for achieving a natural birth, is having a birth plan written out, and going over the birth plan with anyone involved with your labor and delivery. Make sure especially that your husband and/or birth coach is very familiar with your wishes and can help you make decisions according to your plan, even if you aren’t fully capable of making them yourself at the time. You should include plans for your ideal birth, as well as plans for if complications arise for either you or the baby. Here is our plan (so far!)

Labor at home as long as possible (ideal departure: contractions 2-3min apart, lasting 1min)
Eat, drink, and move freely during labor as desired
As few internal checks as possible (none if allowed, one upon arrival is permissible)
Intermittent fetal monitoring only as truly needed
All interventions should be explained and we should be given time to discuss together
Available to labor in tub, on birth ball, birth stool, shower, toilet, outside
Utilize rebozo, oils, rice sock, massage, hot towels, homeopathics as needed

Push in whatever position is comfortable
Push with body’s prompting, not to timing
Free to deliver in water if desired
Perineal counter pressure, heat, oils- episiotomy only in absolutely emergent situation

Immediate skin to skin
No erythromycin or vaccinations will be given
Vit K will only be given if deemed necessary by birth, after discussion between midwife and Karli. Arnica will be used instead if possible.
No bath given- wipe off face and yucky bits, rub in vernix
No hat unless necessary by room temperature
No pacifier given whatsoever
Breastfeeding as soon as baby is ready
APGAR done on mother
Cord allowed to finish pulsing (minimum of 10 min), then be cut by Matt
Placenta delivered naturally, placed in refrigerator to be taken home and encapsulated
Sitz bath as soon as possible (may be once we get home- fine)
Baby will use cloth diapers only (with liner) all brought with us
Family allowed to return home as soon as possible

Only spinal anesthesia given
Shield lowered to see baby delivered
Cord allowed to stop pulsing, if possible
No erythromycin, vaccinations, Vit K only if deemed necessary
Skin to skin and breastfeeding ASAP
Room in with baby at all times

Breastfeed baby, expressed breastmilk if necessary
Free visitation by mother and father
Allowed skin to skin if possible
Parents handle as much of care as possible

Did you write out a birth plan? If not, do you wish you had? If so, is there anything additional you would include, or wish that you had included?

Packing a Bag for a Natural Birth

Packing a Natural Birth Bag

Type a quick search into Pinterest and you can find a bazillion different blog posts on what you should pack in your hospital bag. But what if you aren’t going to a hospital? What if you aren’t preparing for a normal birth, but a natural one? You’re probably going to pack a little differently- I know I am!

My due date is in less than a month, and it’s high time for me to get packing my bag. Here’s a peek inside what I’m bring along to the birth center with me, to help be through my (planned) natural labor and delivery!

ESSENTIAL OILS & MASSAGE OIL–  I will be bringing a full medicine chest of oils to my birth. Here’s what I’m planning to have on hand, and what they are used for:

Serenity– A sedative and anti-anxiety blend, Serenity will be diffused in the labor room to create a calm and peaceful atmosphere, as well as quell any fears and anxiety I may have.

Peppermint– Not to be used topically as it can inhibit milk production, but can be inhaled for energy or to quell nausea, as well as put in the toilet to help dilate the bladder so I can pee.

Lavender– Great for relaxation, as well as perineum care. Will also be used in postpartum pads and peri-bottles and spray.

On Guard- An immunity blend that is antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal, we’ll be using this in an all-purpose spray to sanitize the birth room, and also the birth ball.

Deep Blue– A pain relief blend, I have been using this every night on my back for the past few weeks, and will continue to use during labor, especially for back labor.

Breathe– Many mothers suffer from a small degree of pregnancy-related congestion, and I have been no exception. Should it become worse during labor, this respiratory blend will come in handy.

Clary Sage– This is used to make contractions more effective and also to restart a stalled labor. Is also effective in helping to deliver placenta.

Coconut Oil– Used to apply any of these oils topically, as well as for perineum care during second stage labor. We will also apply this to the baby’s bottom with her first diaper to make her first poops easier to clean up!

HOMEOPATHICS– While my education in homeopathic medicine is very much beginning, I have been advised that there are a few remedies that are great for labor and delivery:

Pulsatilla– Given that baby girl has a tendency to be posterior, pulsatilla is very useful for babies that aren’t in an optimal position.

Nux Vomica– Useful if mama is nauseous during labor, particularly in the transition period.

Arnica– Great to help aches and pains subside after birth, as well as speed the healing of bruising and swelling. Can also be used for baby in the event of a traumatic birth.

FOOD– Yes, I am allowed to eat during labor- actually not just allowed, but encouraged. I’ve got a litany of high-protein snacks on the docket- both for Matt and I to have to keep our energy up. Homemade energy balls, trail mix, and brothy soups will be at the top of the list. In addition, the birth center requires me to eat a decent meal before we are discharged- haven’t decided what that will be just yet, but that’ll get packed as well.

DRINKS– Many ‘hospital bag checklists’ encourage moms to chug gatorade during labor, but I just can’t do it- too many chemicals and crazy ingredients in there! Instead, I’m making my own homemade ‘labor aid‘ to take with me- something that I (hopefully) will be able to easily whip up in the early stages of labor while I am still at home. In addition, I’ll be bringing coconut water, some of my home-blended pregnancy support tea (which also balances hormones following the birth), and ginger tea, in case I get nauseous. I will likely also make some strong red raspberry leaf tea to then freeze into ice chips art the birth center- keeping me cool and refreshed but also strengthening the uterus during labor!

MUSIC. Music is a big part of our lives, and can be a great relaxation aid if you’ve been using it correctly! We’re making labor playlists, loading them onto our phones, and bringing a bluetooth speaker.

CLOTH DIAPERS– We went back and forth on this for a while, but yes- we will be using cloth diapers from the beginning. We were gifted with some beautiful newborn diapers, and we’ll just use disposable inserts in the inside until all the meconium passes. From then on, it’s all cloth, all the time! Of course, we are going into this process with a standard of grace- if the cloth is too much to handle in the beginning, we will simply use disposables for a while. But, for the time being, that’s just the backup plan.

SHOWER SUPPLIES– I’m not 100% that I will take a shower at the birth center before coming home, but I’d like to have my own things with me if I feel like it! I got a nice exfoliating washcloth and packed a travel size of my favorite natural shower gel.

CLOTHES FOR MOM AND BABY– This might seem like a given, but the way the pregnant brain works, it’s best to put it on the list. Though I am not set on organic cotton on the whole, I have been gifted some lovely organic baby clothes that I’ll be bringing to the hospital for the little girl- just because it feels special 🙂 For me, it’s all about comfort, of course! I’ll be bringing a few changes of comfy outfits (in case the nasty takes them hostage haha), and then something clean to save to go home in. Very important- cheap or old changes of underwear, and cheap, dark socks. These things tend to get messy during a natural birth, so the dark colors come in handy.

BIRTH BALL– this is actually provided in many birth centers, but I’m bringing mine just in case. A birth ball is nothing more than a large exercise ball– you can spend more money and get one that says ‘birth ball’ on it if you really want to, but they are all the same. The rolling and bouncing motions that the birth ball supports allows the mother to remain in motion with very little effort, which can be soothing, help dilate, and fend off muscle cramps.

REBOZO– This is something that I had never really heard of until I took Bradley Method classes and our instructor introduced us! A rebozo is nothing more than a long, wide scarf that can be tied in different ways around the mama and used to support the belly or even lift the baby into a more favorable position. It’s useful in the weeks leading up to labor to encourage good positioning, as well as during labor to correct, if necessary. Also, they’re really pretty 🙂

RICE SOCK– So easy! We made these in our Bradley Method class, and they are so great. Simply take a large men’s athletic sock and fill it with rice. You can then heat it in the microwave or even cool it in the freezer to provide gentle relief wherever you need it. You can also use a few drops of essential oils for a great aromatherapeutic experience! (If you just want to purchase, grab this one!)

DISPOSABLES– For me. While I’d love to employ the use of MamaCloth or something similar, cloth diapers will be enough to wash! I am bringing padsicles and also some women’s disposable underwear– definitely not glamorous, but will be easy and one less thing to worry about.

BLANKETS– 2, to be precise. One receiving blanket to wrap baby in after the birth, and a heavier one to snuggle around her in her car seat on the way home. (ps: this is our fave car seat!)

SWIMSUIT TOP– Who knows if I’ll actually use this, to be honest. More women lose all inhibitions in labor and end up walking around naked (in a natural birth) and given that I am a human heater already, I’m betting I’m no different. But, if I am looking for some sort of modesty, I want something available to me, particularly for birthing in the tub.

SITZ BATH HERBS– Because I am sent home (if delivery is routine) between 4-6 hours after the birth, I don’t know if this is something that I will actually use at the birth center or if it will be used at home instead, but I’ll be bringing it just in case. A sitz bath herb pack includes an herbal blend that is designed to speed healing of the nether regions following birth and sooth any discomfort down there. A shallow bath is drawn and a ‘tea’ is made with the herbs in the bath- you relax and heal, perhaps even with baby in with you! Ready-made sitz bath herb packs are available, or you can prepare your own sitz bath herb blend.

I personally received this gift set with my last baby, and it was amazing. I’ll gift it to every new mama from now on!

Last, but not least, PERSONAL COMFORTS. This could be anything- for me, it’s a range of anything from my favorite pre-packaged facial cleansing wipes to the best lip balm, natural hand sanitizer to significant jewelry.

Did you have a natural birth- in a hospital, birth center, or at home? What was on your packing list? Let’s see if we can grow this list as a resource!

Establishing a Daily Routine With Essential Oils

Establishing a Daily Routine With Essential Oils

Last week, we discussed building the best collection of essential oils for the needs of YOUR family. Just as important as selecting the correct essential oils for your family is establishing an effective routine to use them! For me, this includes many different methods of treatment:

In Products

To figure out how best to use oils for your family, first look at how the oils you have on hand are supposed to be used. Each oil bottle should be labeled with it’s safe usages: A for aromatic (inhaling or diffusing), T for topical (put directly on skin, or diluted in a carrier oil), and I for internal (ingested in a pill, liquid, under tongue, etc). These are the most important guidelines you can follow, and they should shape the rest of your plan!

Next, consider what you are trying to accomplish– and how to most effectively make that goal happen! Again, here’s two of my favorite resources: Modern Essentials and The Aromatherapy & Essential Oils Handbook.

Some oils, used daily, should have a specific time of day that you routinely apply, so you don’t forget! Things like oils to boost immunity are great examples of this: apply them in the morning, and you’re set for the day. Others, like a relaxing blend, should be applied every night before bed.You don’t really need these oils throughout the day.

Other oils are used for more acute reasons- tension, energy boost, focus- and should be kept with you to use when needed.

In addition, you may want to incorporate oils into your household products- DIY cleaning solutions, beauty products, etc- and those will be used throughout your day as well!

Here’s an example of my daily oils routine:

Frankincense and OnGuard behind ears and on bottoms of feet to boost immunity and level mood

Lemon in my water to aid in detoxification and prevent fluid retention

Peppermint under the tongue for energy levels
Citrus Bliss applied behind ears/to temples for energy levels or quick mood lift
Deep Blue diluted in coconut oil on back for relaxing muscles
Lavender and Peppermint diluted in coconut oil for dissolving tension
Citrus Bliss diffused to mood/energy lift
OnGuard diffused for boosting immunity

Melaleuca, Oregano, OnGuard in all-purpose cleaning spray
Lavender in deodorant
Peppermint or OnGuard in toothpaste or added to coconut oil for oil pulling

Serenity on the bottoms of feet and on temples for restful sleep

Taking the time to establish an effective oils routine- that you can stick with every day- will do wonders for the health and wellness of your family, and make it easier on you, as well!

What’s your favorite way to use essential oils? Do you have a routine that you stick to?

Thoughts on Circumcision: AKA Why I’m Glad I’m Having a Girl

I have to say from the very beginning of this discussion that I am pregnant with a baby girl. However, it was very soon after we found out that we were having a girl that I uttered the words “whew, now we don’t have to decide about circumcision”. I think I may even have still been on the ultrasound table.

Circumcision is definitely a hot topic these days, from dads who vehemently need their sons to match their ‘parts’ to mothers who believe that circumcision is a human rights violation, and everything in between. when Matt and I were first discussing this topic (early in our pregnancy), I told him that I knew this was a decision that ultimately he would need to make for our future son- and that, given he took the time to inform himself, I would respect his decision, even if I didn’t necessarily agree. I felt strongly that this was an area of parenting and decision making within my marriage that I needed to respect my husband in- and he appreciated that. Now, we are having a girl, but I am happy to say that Matt has taken some time to inform himself about this topic anyway, and I think we are close to being on the same page!

Thoughts on Circumcision: AKA Why I'm Glad I'm Having a Girl

So what are all the factors that go into the circumcision decision? Well, there are many- from religious, to aesthetic, to social, to medical. I want to break down each of these factors objectively and give an overview or where each camp lies before I share my own thoughts!

Let’s get the most complicated out of the way first. Most people I know jump straight to the religious card when discussing circumcision without realizing what it actually entails. Most Christians assume that, because the Lord commanded the Israelites to be circumcised in the Old Testament, we all must continue to abide by that law, because ‘that’s the tradition in the church.’ There are many problems with this argument:

The Jews were the only ones that circumcised for a long, long time- in fact, Paul spends a good amount of the New Testament arguing that it’s completely fine for the gentiles (aka, most of us) to not be circumcised, and that it has no hold on salvation. It wasn’t until the Middle Ages, when some church authority figures decided to claim that being uncircumcised was linked to problems with lust and masturbation, that the church began routine circumcision. That was really effective, huh?

Secondly, if we are to abide by the rules put in place by the Lord for the Israelites, we have a whole mess of other things to worry about in addition to circumcision- publicly stoning all adulterers, no sexual relations during a woman’s period, very specific dietary instructions. It’s pretty silly to assume that this part of the covenant must be steadfastly held to in modern day, but the rest of it doesn’t matter. As Christians, we believe that Jesus came to fulfill the law- which is why we are not bound to any of these practices anymore.

This one is probably the easiest one to understand, and yet seems to be the one that is most blown out of proportion. Let’s face it: dads want their sons to look like them. What if they get confused? Will they think something is wrong with them? In all honestly, this will probably end up being nothing more than a brief, honest conversation between father and son about how they made an informed decision about what was best for him- with information that perhaps his grandparent’s didn’t have. It helps to stress that the father was born just like the son, but had a procedure done to now look like he does. Form anyone I’ve talked to, this simply hasn’t been a game-changing issue- in fact, they were surprised with how easy the conversation was, and how resilient the sons were!

The ‘locker room’ argument is another that I hear often- and perhaps with good reason. Even in the years that my husband was growing up, circumcision was much more common than it is now. In a locker room of boys, a slim few of uncircumcised peers would definitely be a minority- but statistics say that this is far from the norm now. In fact, polling from 2011 shows that 43% of newborn boys nationwide are not circumcised– and this statistic is only growing (this study shows the number at around 70% in 2010!). This is definitely changing the locker room dynamic for what our boys will experience when they grow older.

It’s also interesting to look at data state-by-state and compare what states will fund circumcision via Medicaid, versus which states do not.  Overwhelmingly, states with funding have higher rates- meaning, when parents actually have to pay for it themselves, they are far more likely to forgo the procedure.

This is perhaps the most misunderstood factor of the circumcision debate- whether it is medically necessary or not. The fact is that there are ZERO worldwide governing medical bodies that continue to say that routine infant circumcision is medically necessary- in fact, many go as far as to say that routine infant circumcision is a ‘cosmetic procedure’. However, because denying circumcision is only now starting to become more commonplace, there are a vast number of physicians who aren’t really trained properly on how to care for an uncircumcised penis- and, therefore, a parent making an uninformed decision not to circumcise may be advised improperly on how to care for their son, which can lead to further issues down the road. I have heard horror stories of mothers taking their infant boys in for a checkup and having a doctor forcibly retract their son’s foreskin- something that is to happen naturally as the child grows older- and having to eventually switch physicians because of the trauma that it caused the child (and mother) because the doctor wasn’t informed.

Are there times when circumcision is medically necessary? Absolutely. But the bottom line is that every professional medical association agrees that, given proper care, routine infant circumcision is just not needed. Personally, I think that this in and of itself is a pretty big deal- if medical professionals, who would make more money by saying that routine circumcision is necessary (given they profit from surgery), are stating that the surgeries aren’t necessary, I’m going to take note.

Preparing the Body for Natural Birth

How in the world do you prepare for a natural birth? Given that my babe’s due date is in less than a month, it’s safe to say that I’m in full-on prep mode! Here’s some of the measures that I am taking- and that many mothers take- to prepare their bodies for a natural labor and delivery.

Prepping the Body for a Natural Birth

SENSE ASSOCIATIONS– Perhaps one of the more fascinating (and effective) ways you can prep yourself for labor, this one just involves sticking to a relaxing routine in the weeks leading up to your birth. Our bodies learn to associate certain smells, sounds, and even colors to certain emotions or bodily reactions- and what we are going for is relaxation! For me, I have a few different artists that I like to listen to during my relaxation time (Iron and Wine, Sigur Rós being the most common) and I have certain essential oils that I routinely use as well (DoTerra’s Serenity blend being the most effective). When I have a relaxation practice, I use the oils and put on the music, and practice total body relaxation- trying to intense every muscle in my body. The thought is that, once I am in labor, my body will remember these sounds and scents and automatically become more relaxed.

EXERCISES– Because we took Bradley Method classes, we were automatically given a list of exercised to perform daily, each designed to prepare the body in some way for labor.

Pelvic Tilts/ Hands and Knees- Basically a pelvis-focused version of the cat/cow exercise in yoga. This helps improve pelvic mobility, strengthens the core, and relieved lower back pain.

Butterfly- You need a partner for this one. Sit against a wall or headboard with your knees bent together. Have your partner push your legs together as you push them apart, strengthening the outer leg and hip muscles.

Squatting- One of the most beneficial exercises to do during pregnancy, squatting regularly will gently stretch the perineum and improve hip and pelvic mobility. This is also a great position to use in labor (particularly pushing stage) because it opens the pelvis at extra 10-15%.

Tailor Sitting- Or, ‘criss cross applesauce’. Work on getting your knees to the floor! This will keep you in good posture, which helps align the baby correctly for delivery.

Moderate Walking- I’m bad at this one. I try to walk places as much as I can but I’m really exhausted. That said, get in as much activity as your body can handle- stamina is what you need! Labor is an athletic event!

Exercise Ball- My new favorite, especially with baby girl being posterior. Birth balls or exercise balls force you to have great posture, strengthen the core and the back, and help align the pelvis and baby for birth! I have also found that it helps alleviate my back pain. These balls are also invaluable during birth- but more on that in a later post 🙂

Pregnancy Tea

HERBAL TEAS– This is something that I have been implementing almost my entire pregnancy, thanks to my home-blended pregnancy support tea. Now that I am nearing labor, I am ramping up the amount of Red Raspberry Leaf in my tea (to strengthen the uterus) while toning down the amount of peppermint (which can sometimes inhibit milk production). I’ll be bringing this tea to labor with me, too!

HERBAL TINCTURES– This is probably less common, but I’m going for it, anyway- it can’t hurt! I received a small bottle of Labor Prep tincture from Trilight Health– an herbal blend designed to prepare the body for labor gently but effectively. you take a very small amount per day- again, it can’t hurt! I also have several tinctures from WishGarden Herbs that I use frequently- one for stress relief, and one to help me sleep. Both are quite important now!

PERINEAL MASSAGE– Say what? Yeah, basically a foufouey way of saying ‘pre stretch yourself’. Neither erotic or comfortable, but certainly effective in preparing the nether regions for birth- both in preventing tearing (which is obviously a plus) and getting mom used to the sensation of being stretched down there. When the feeling comes it will be vaguely familiar- which will allow her to focus through the pain. This article has an easy explanation of perineal massage.

EPO– This might be the most controversial one. I thought that using Evening Primrose Oil, both internally and vaginally, was becoming more commonplace until I asked my midwife. She informed me that the birth center had seen a connection between women using EPO and having their water break without actually being in labor- and told me that they do not recommend it. However, other labor professionals I have spoken to have not seen that correlation and do support their clients using EPO. The bottom line: there’s not really medical evidence either way- only anecdotal. But there’s some pretty convincing anecdotes, too 🙂

REBOZO WORK– A rebozo is basically a long scarf that can be used to lift the uterus off of the pelvis and give the baby some room to move around.  I’ll discuss the rebozo more in my post on my ‘natural birth hospital bag’, as there are many things a rebozo can be used for during birth. However, it is a great tool to help get the baby into a favorable position before labor- something we have been working on since she seems to be posterior at this point.

ACUPUNCTURE– I’ve been seeing my acupuncturist regularly throughout my pregnancy, and he’s a great friend to have going into labor. Not only is he skilled in turning breech babies, but he can induce labor as well, if necessary.  He is helping with my anxiety, heartburn, sleep issues, and baby girl’s positioning!

Do you have a favorite way to prepare the body for natural birth? A tried and true method, or something that you’re curious about? I’d love to hear!