Surviving the First Trimester- Naturally

firsttrimester

I was a pathetic mess my entire first trimester.

I’m serious. It was embarrassing. I wish I could say that I was one of those women who just brought along a trash bag and towel wherever she went and barfed when necessary and just powered through life, but it just wasn’t true. The nausea and vomiting was so bad that many days I never got dressed and didn’t leave the house. I am so, so thankful that I have a job that I can do from the comfort of my home 90% of the time. I seriously don’t know how I would have managed a 9-5 office job. It was completely the grace of the Lord that I got through alive.

All that to say, many women have it much more difficult than I do. I was never hospitalized, I was able to stay off of anti-nausea medicine (though it was offered to me many times), and I was still able to work. But almost every women who experiences pregnancy has some degree of nausea and vomiting, though it’s different for everyone. And we all have different things that make our nausea better! Today, I want to share the things that helped me make it through- regardless of how pathetic I was.

-Eat a complex carb before you lift your head from the pillow. My go-to was Trader Joe’s Rosemary & Raisin Crackers- filled with flaxseeds, sunflower seeds, and lots of other fun super grains for my little girl. I must’ve eaten through 20 boxes during my first trimester. When I say “before you lift your head”, I am not kidding. I would grab the box, spin over onto my belly, and eat half a box of crackers before even thinking about getting out of bed. Not the cutest thing I’ve ever done, but it would sit heavily enough in my stomach to get me downstairs, let me go to the bathroom, and fix something for breakfast without spiraling into an all-day mess of nausea.

-Eat OFTEN. As in, I ate every 1.5-2 hours MAX. Keeping something in my tummy was the only way I could avoid feeling gross. It didn’t necessarily matter what it was, as long as I got it down. It was my ‘preventative measure’.

-Figure out what herbs work for you. For me, ginger made me even more sick, so I had to avoid anything with ginger in it, including virtually every anti-nausea tea on the market. However, peppermint worked wonders for me, as did chamomile. I would keep a small box of altoids in my purse and suck on one or two whenever I started to feel gross. Breathing in a chamomile steam inhalation (or simply making chamomile tea and sipping it) was also really effective.

-Stay hydrated. Lemon is another anti nausea aid that many people find helpful- I was pretty much constantly sipping ice water with a heaping amount of lemon juice in it, and it really did make me feel better- and staying hydrated is key to keeping yourself well.

-Try alternative medicine. I see a Chinese Herbalist and received acupuncture treatments throughout my first trimester that I really feel helped keep my sickness manageable. Check with your insurance to see if they cover alternative medicine- mine covers 75%! You might be surprised. Aromatherapy, focusing on ginger, lemon, or peppermint essential oils, can also be helpful- either applied in a carrier oil or used in a diffuser, or even in bath water.

-Up your magnesium levels. Some lovely mamas online suggested using magnesium oil topically twice a day, and I think this also contributed to my survival. you can also add magnesium oil, or a ton of epsom salts, into bathwater and have yourself a nice soak. I honestly don’t know all the science behind this one, but I can say that it worked for me, and for many other mamas as well!

-Don’t force yourself to eat what isn’t appealing to you. You will barf. It will suck.

-Take your prenatals and don’t stress. Your baby is very tiny and requires very little at this stage- do your best and your prenatals will cover you. But- DO your BEST too! Don’t use pregnancy as an excuse to eat donuts all day. Your baby is a beautiful responsibility- take the best care of him or her that you can!

-Don’t be afraid to ask of help. I remember calling my mom and asking her to come over and clean my toilet for me one morning, and while it was very humbling, it was worth it. Especially if you have other children, give yourself grace. Accept a meal from a friend, an offer to babysit, take an extra nap while your kids sleep.

-Recognize when you need medical attention. Some people truly need anti-nausea medication to get through the first trimester. Others suffer from a debilitating condition known as Hyperemesis Gravidarum, which requires a lot of monitoring, and often medication, to control. If you can’t keep anything down and you can tell that something is wrong, take care of yourself. Your body, and your baby, will thank you.

Have any of these tips worked for you? What else helped you survive your first trimester queasies?

The World’s Worst Cold Season

Hi, friends!

It goes without saying how sad I am that I literally haven’t posted a blog in over a month. This blog is therapeutic for me- a way to process what I am learning, share what I am passionate about and, yes, release a bit of frustration sometimes. Well, that frustration has certainly come to a head in the past weeks because it seems that myself and everyone I know is sick! Seeing this, I thought I would share some steps you can take to prevent and combat the common cold when it has you down and out.

About three weeks ago, I came down with the worst cold I have ever had- I was like a walking Nyquil commercial. I had a sore throat, itchy eyes, terrible sinus congestion, couldn’t sleep as a result, it was just awful. Never had I come down with such a stereotypically miserable cold. It just so happened that I was co-Music Director for that weekend’s Chrysalis Retreat, and the one thing I was dreading was beginning to happen- losing my voice. Well, I made it through- and here are some of the tricks I used to keep my voice and my sanity during those stuffy days:

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Medicinal Teas. My two go-tos were both from Traditional Medicinals: Gypsy’s Cold Care and Throat Coat. Spoiler alert- they both taste kind of awful, but they are both very effective. Gypsy’s lessens general cold symptoms as well as cutting down on the duration of the cold, while Throat Coat is particularly useful if you are prone to laryngitis whenever you get sick, like me. There are mixed views on using Throat Coat when you are sick- especially if your throat issues are sinus related, it can sometimes make you produce more mucus in an attempt to lubricate the throat. Bottom line- use your best judgement. Don’t use it for the first time before a big performance unless you know how your body will react.

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Honey. So much of it. Raw and local is best. Over the course of the Chrysalis weekend, I downed close to a two pound bottle of raw honey (a lot of this in attempts to cover the taste of the Throat Coat tea!). Honey is an antiseptic and a lubricant, which helps both coat and heal your throat.

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Neti pot or other sinus rinse. Yes, this is uncomfortable at first, but you are not only removing excess mucus, but neutralizing PH and flushing out any germs and allergens in your nasal passages. I was doing this upwards of 4x a day when my cold was at its worst.

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BLOW your NOSE. I can’t emphasize this enough! Keep tissues with you all the time- Target sells really cute little ’tissue wallets’ that I should by stock in. The more you can get that stuff out, the better off you are going to feel. Sniffing and swallowing (gross, I know) is only going to keep you sick. It can even give you an upset stomach. Just don’t let it happen.

-Sleep sitting up. Not completely, but prop two or three pillows under your head to keep post-nasal drip at bay. It sicks but you will probably end up sleeping better than you would have originally.

-Check out your environment. We recently discovered a lovely mold infestation in our closet- no wonder we are staying sick forever! Make sure that you don’t have a culprit hiding somewhere…

-Healing baths. This can help any type of sickness- taking a hot bath is like having a self-induced fever- your body temperature rises and your body’s immune responses are heightened, which helps fight off germs. Adding helpful herbs like peppermint, eucalyptus, or rosemary can aid in clearing congestion. If you don’t have a bath tub, put some essential oils in the corner of your shower and inhale in the steam!

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-Steam inhalations– these are my favorite! Boil a pot of water, pour it into a bowl and add some essential oils (eucalyptus is the most effective). Form a tent over your head with a towel and inhale! Have tissues ready because this can work very quickly! I like to do this after I do a sinus rinse- it leaves me clear and feeling good.

-Supplements. Vitamin C is a given, but Vitamin D is also proven to help ward off sickness! Echinacea is an easy-to-find herb that is a powerhouse for strengthening the immune system. It is often paired with Goldenseal. Green tea and other antioxidant-rich supplements will help, too!

-Eat foods that will help your body heal. Focus on getting a plant-based, whole foods diet especially when you are sick. Get away from the processed foods! Dairy especially is a big hindrance to healing and makes you produce more mucus. Red meats take more energy for your body to digest, which pulls energy away from the healing process. Juices are great when you are sick, because they are chock full of nutrients but easy to digest- letting your body focus all of it’s energy on healing! Garlic and Onions are two foods that are especially good for mucus cleansing. Ideally- a whole foods vegan diet. I know it’s hard, but do your best!

-Get your rest. If you are run down, so is your immune response. Get enough sleep and take care of your body, it will take care of you!

Wishing you a health and energy this cold season,

Karli

BEAUTY WEEK: The Full Facial Treatment

This is one of my absolute favorite ways to treat myself!  When I first started working for LUSH, I probably used a face mask every single day, and my skin loved me for it!  Well, I cant exactly afford that anymore, but I’ve learned how to get the same results at home, and ever kick it up a notch.  Give yourself 45 minutes tonight and indulge in this at-home mini facial!

 

PART ONE: DIY MICRODERMABRASION

This is as simple as getting out your box of baking soda.  Microdermabrasion is one of the most expensive (and, admittedly, effective) spa treatments out there.  It involves slowly exfoliating the skin with a diamond-tipped rotary device that sort of feels like sandpaper, but makes your skin glow afterwards for the low low price of $150+ per session (6 sessions usually recommended).  I had microderm three or four times when I worked for a spa, and it really is nice.  But baking soda is just as effected and a billion times cheaper.  See for yourself!

Take a tablespoon of baking soda and splash in just enough warm water to make into a paste.  Smooth it over your skin and gently exfoliate in circular motions, focusing in areas that are problematic, dry, or scarred.  Take your time, enjoy it!  Your skin will thank you.  Massage your face and rinse with warm water.  Admire.  You can stop here and apply a moisturizer and be done.  OR…

 

PART TWO: DIY HERBAL STEAM

This is the fun part because you get to just relax!  Boil some water, and while you’re waiting, fill the bottom of a glass bowl or a stopped sink with any of the following:

Lavender buds

Strips of basil

Rose petals

Chamomile buds

Rosemary needles

Green Tea

Any combination is fine, too!  Whatever you have on hand.  Pour in the boiled water (allow to slightly cool) and then add any of the following:

 Tea tree oil

Lavender oil

Eucalyptus oil

Chamomile oil

Again, whatever you have on hand!  Now, throw a towel over your head, drape it over the bowl or sink, and make yourself a little tent.  Seal the edges. Breath.  Enjoy that lovely herbal steam soaking into your pores!  Continue until your mixture ceases to steam.  Now, you can finish with a moisturizer and be done.  OR…

 

PART THREE: DIY FACE MASK

Here’s the really fun part.  What do you have in your kitchen?  Honey? Bananas? Yogurt? Avocado?  I’m sure you have something.  Finish with one of these on your face!

Banana (great for sensitive skin)

Oatmeal (raw oats mixed with some milk, gently heated)

Honey (mix with cinnamon and nutmeg for acne scarring!)

Yogurt (great for brightening skin)

Crushed aspirin and lemon (again, brightening, good for problem skin/swelling)

Avocado (moisturizing)

Slather on, relax for 20-30 minutes, and rinse with warm water.  NOW you can finish with a moisturizer or, like I do, a little bit of coconut oil!  Be sure to moisturize lightly around your eyes to prevent aging lines 🙂 Enjoy your fresh holiday face!

BEAUTY WEEK: DIY Shampoo!

Hello again, friends!  I am really enjoying this beauty week experiment- I really hope you are, too!  If you have any beauty product you’d like to see me try to DIY, let me know- I’d love to do a Beauty Week Pt. 2!

Today’s beauty item is a little more mainstream- I mean, not everyone is a scrub-a-holic like me and exfoliates in every shower, but pretty much any person reading this blog uses shampoo in some form.  For the past four or so years, I have refused to use anything but natural products on my hair- and I must say, my hair has never been better.  However, those products have come with a price tag- sometimes as much as $30 a bottle for shampoo.  I found myself thinking- if all this stuff is really natural, can’t I just make it myself with a little effort?

Now, I have done most of the popular shampoo experiments- no-poo (where you literally rinse your hair daily with water, and that’s it), baking soda only, apple cider vinegar.  No-poo was great after I shaved my head, but after a while I really noticed the grease, and I know that others could, too.  I’m not the type of person who religiously showers daily- maybe if I was, then no-poo would’ve worked.  But only using water on my hair every other day at best just didn’t look great on me.  Baking soda actually worked really well for a long time, but it was difficult to get out of my hair, which has a lot of texture, and only got worse as my hair grew longer.  Apple cider vinegar, using the raw kind that you really are supposed to use, was just too expensive for my budget- though I do know people who use regular ACV from the store and enjoy the effects.  All this to say, I tried all these things, and they weren’t for me.

I have previously extolled the virtues of the LUSH Shampoo Bar ($10 for about 4 months of use) but even they have drawbacks.  Really, I’m just a curious person.  I wanted to see if I could make my own shampoo.  I scoured my natural health and beauty books, various magazines, and Pinterest pages, and this is the simplest, easiest recipe I’ve found:

You’ll need:

1/4 cup Coconut Milk

1/3 cup Castile Soap (we use Dr. Bronner’s in peppermint)

10-20 drops Essential Oil

Other Oils (optional- start at just 1 teaspoon)

Simply mix together and use!  Make sure you shake before each use, too, as sometimes the coconut milk will separate.

Just the basic ingredients of Coconut Milk and Castile Soap are really what forms your shampoo.  My husband actually uses castile soap exclusively on his hair, but I find it a bit too drying and don’t care for the texture in my hair.  The coconut milk smoothes and moisturizes the hair, while castile soap cleans and shines!

You can add other oils in to suit your hair needs- olive oil or coconut oil to moisturize, or certain essential oils, like rosemary for scalp issues. My final product- coconut milk, castile soap, a tiny bit of olive oil and rosemary oil, felt like washing my hair with fresh snow- it smelled so wintery and clean!