Natural Smoother Delivery from Natural Mama

Here are 10 helpful skills/tools which can promote a natural and smoother delivery from Natual Mama

1. Honey sticks - Think Pixie Sticks for crunchy mamas. These are a great form of natural sugar that’s super convenient to suck down mid-labor. (where to buy honey sticks)

2. Dates – I’m eating these suckers the month before and during labor based onthis study. Can’t hurt as they’re another form of natural sugar, plus they have calming properties due to their mineral content. (where to buy dates)

3. Bone broth – Nothing replaces electrolytes and soothes the soul like a mug of bone broth. Put in a large thermos and make yourself sip throughout labor. Your body will thank you!

4. Red raspberry leaf tea – Another important fluid that should be drunk throughout your entire pregnancy for uterine health. It literally tones our uterus which means it helps it go the distance with the grueling task of labor. (where to buy tea)

5. Fresh fruit juices – I personally like OJ for its vitamin C, potassium and magnesium content and coconut juice is wonderful for potassium, magnesium, and . You can add gelatin and a little cream to balance out your sugars. (where to buy)

6. Progesterone mixed in coconut oil – This can be used as a pain reliever (YES!) during labor. Rub on belly and back to relieve cramping. I like this progesterone best.

7. Magnesium oil spray – another form of pain management, squirt on body to help muscles relax during labor (where to buy spray)

8. Homeopathy – Bring. On. The. Drugs. (Natural, of course :) ). Keep in mind, I’m not a doctor so consult with your health care provider before using any of these remedies

    • To help your cervix dilate, try Caullophyllum 200C or Cimicifuga 200C.
    • Taking Gelsemium 30C and Pulsatilla 30C every few hours can help keep labor progressing nicely.
    • During the pushing phase, Arnica – 200C can help with pain and fatigue.
    • For back labor, try Kali Carb 200C.
    • For overall exhaustion, use Kali Phos 200C.
    • Additionally, Arnica 30C every few hours or even every 1/2 hour after labor helps with soreness.
    • Gelsemium and Pulsatilla can also induce labor or help breech babies flip.

9. Water. Yes, hydrotherapy is one of the best pain relievers out there. The tub felt good but the shower was my bestest friend during labor. The hard pellets of water falling down on my back felt like manna from heaven.

10. DOULA. These angels from heaven give you the support, confidence and coaching to delivery your baby… wouldn’t do it without one of these :)


To add to the list my recommendations are:


  1. Be mindful of your sphincter muscles and relaxation (Source here)
  2. Create a mantra for you to mentally chant when encountering a labor rush.


Interesting Read on "The Epidural Trip"

The Epidural Trip:
Why are so many women taking dangerous drugs during labor?
by Judy Slome Cohain

Abstract: Two million American women will take an epidural trip this year during childbirth. In most cases, they’ll be ill-informed as to possible side effects or alternate methods of pain relief. In many ways, epidurals are the drug trip of the current generation. Similar to street drug pushers, most anesthesiologists in the delivery rooms maintain a low profile, avoid making eye contact and threaten to walk out if they don’t get total cooperation. Women get epidurals for one of the main reasons so many women smoked pot in the 1970s—their friends are doing it. This article examines why so many women in the Western world are compelled to take powerful drugs during their labor and exposes the risks epidurals pose to both mother and baby.

Read Article here.

[Editor’s note: This article first appeared in Midwifery Today Issue 95, Autumn 2010.]

19 More Days ...

I am 37 weeks and 2 days pregnant. I'm officially on maternity leave, as of Friday. I have been following a strict diet during this pregnancy, which I feel afforded me the strength to work two jobs, manage a busy household, run a business, and co-raise a toddler. Throughout my 37 weeks I have constantly heard, "You don't look {insert number of months} pregnant". People have a hard time understanding that each pregnant person carries differently and I seem to "carry small". So far I am just shy of a 17 pound gain. I don't think I'll go over 20 pounds, as I did with Lil D because of my semi-raw diet {I'll explain this diet in a subsequent post}. In general, I feel great. The pressure in my pelvis and the Braxton Hicks are an annoying reminder of my condition, but I'm managing. At least until BC2 arrives I won't have to climb subway steps, run for trains, and walk NYC blocks. Two weeks ago, at the beginning of my ninth month, I started a regime recommended to me by my doula to aid in an easier labor, I detail it below. 

Formula For An Easier Labor Last Month of Pregnancy

(Alele Davis' Let's Have Healthy Children, Chapter 13)


  1. 2 parts Raspberry Leaf, 1 part Alfalfa and 1 part Comfrey Tones and strengthens the uterus for a shorter labor; Provides nourishment.      2-3 cups daily
  2. Yogurt (acidophilis). Provides Vitatmin K to prevent hemorrhage.      8 ounces daily
  3. Cooked green leafy vegetables. (I prefer raw). Provides Vitamin K to prevent hemorrhage. Daily
  4. Increase Potassium foods-- (i.e., fish, soybeans, fruits, and vegetables). Promotes muscle strength.           Daily
  5. Decrease salt intake.    Daily
  6. Vitamin C (You may use calcium ascorbate powder in juice- 1/2 tsp 4x/day). Prevents perineal and vaginal tears.                    10 grams daily
  7. Vitamin E. Prevents jaundice: promotes tissue elasticity; promotes muscle strength.                  600 Ius daily
  8. Zinc (is in prenatal). Promotes more rapid and efficient labor; promotes tissue elasticity.            10-15 mgs daily 1-2 weeks before due date
  9. B-complex. Protects you from the stress of labor and delivery.                                                       50 mgs twice daily. (once if taking prenatal)
  10. Maintain 80-100 grams of protein daily. {I've been going this mainly by eating legumes, veggies, nuts and seeds, and fruit}
  11. Perineal massage nightly.  {At first this was kinda weird-- but after a 2nd degree tear with Lil D I'm not playing around} Nice resource on how to do this here.


 Onset of Labor


  1. Calcium- 2000 mgs, liquid or powder once in 24 hours. To decrease pain sensitivity.
  2. Vitamin E - 600 Ius repeated every 3 hours. To prevent fetal distress.
  3. Liberal raspberry leaf tea mixture - one cup every hour.



Post Partum


  1. Continue raspberry drink - one cup daily
  2. Decrease  Vitamin C to 2 grams (500 mgs 4x daily)
  3. Continue Vitamin E (400 Ius daily)
  4. Maintain protein intake
  5. Increase calcoric intake
  6. Increase fluids to at least 2 quarts daily. {A must if you are nursing}



Placenta Encapsulation Services

Last evening I went to my last bi-monthly prenatal appointment and I picked up a flyer for placenta encapsulation services. The service is provided by Jessica Cicerone, CPES (Certified Placenta Encapsulation Specialist). The flyer explains the benefits of such service, which I will share below, and advertises Jessica's company Three Moon Living. Three Moon Living will be a "resource for holistic care, spiritual nourishment, and good living".
My placenta from Lil D's birth is in my freezer and I decided to use it to plant a tree, when we purchase our new home. BC2's placenta will be encapsulated (a process I plan to document on this blog). So I will be engaging in placentophagy. For most mammals this is a way of life, well except humans of course, we have "evolved". In a study conducted by UNLV researchers on the experiences of placenta eating moms their was a distinct type of woman who practiced placentophagy. They were "overwhelmingly white, married, college-educated and were solidly middle- to upper-middle class. Most of the women had home births" (Source).
The researchers for this study hope to "resolve this debate by conducting the world's first definitive study on the effectiveness of placenta pills — a sort of placebo versus placenta study. To that end, Benyshek and Young are analyzing the nutrient and hormone content of the human placenta and testing the best ways to prepare it for human consumption. Eventually, they hope to discover what, if anything, makes the placenta so potent a remedy for the baby blues, and whether there are any risks involved." 
I'll be on the look out for these results. Some benefits of placentophagy are:
  • Restore your body back to balance
  • Avoid the "baby blues"
  • Enhance milk production
  • Increase energy
  • Lessen potential bleeding
  • Increase iron levels
  • Recover more quickly from birth

For more resources on the benefits of the placenta visit

I'll let you know in about 3 weeks!

Getting Closer

Time is moving rapidly towards my due date. In four to six weeks, if I don't have a baby wanting to stay in utero past 40 weeks, I will be a mommy of two. I was asked if I am excited . . . well excitement is not the emotion I would use to describe my current state of being, more like anxious and exhausted. With Lil D I wasn't ready for her at 38 weeks. Now, I am super ready to meet BC2 and begin the bonding process. 

A lot has happened since I last blogged. Let's see. . . We visited the hospital's birthing center and got to ask all the pertinent questions about their practices. I was not impressed with the physical building, it was rather old and outdated, but I love their philosophy on birthing babies. The biggest draw for me was being able to labor unrestricted or with little attachment to a damn machine! They have a wireless fetal monitoring device and it's only used intermittently throughout labor and not continuously. NO MORE PITOCIN! Well at least not during labor and I have the freedom to position myself however I feel comfortable. With a four hour labor for Lil D I'm hoping this one with be just as speedy and without incident. I've already decided no Vitamin K and eye ointment. I also really want to try the squatting birthing position, each bed in the hospital has a squat bar (see below). I've been practicing my squats and I feel pretty good about this position (I may alternate between this one and the kneeling or all-four position). It's suggested the best squat is "with your weight forward on your toes, your calves, thighs, and hence your perineum and vagina, are tightened, whereas if your weight is back on your heels (with a rolled towel under you heels for support if necessary), these muscles can relax, and you can thus prevent tearing" (source). For LilD's birth I began lying on my (left) side in the foetal position and had the nurse flip me over onto my back in my most vulnerable state. smh... I'll be in better control this time around, FOR SURE!

"Squatting ... will strengthen your pelvic floor so you can get your groove back after pregnancy sooner than you would have otherwise." {Source}

For an excellent resource on birthing positons check out Giving Birth Naturally's site here.

On to other topics

Went shopping this weekend for cute pajama sets for the hospital, my bag is packed and we're ready to go. I also purchased a second excerise ball for D to use while he "coaches" me. 

Besides preparing for the upcoming birth of BC2, I've been planning our baby shower. We're having a safari/jungle themed event at our house. I decided to combine this celebration with the birthday of LilD. Well really we'll just sing happy birthday to her and have her blow out two candles on a little cake. Sometimes its hard for me to believe she will be two in a week. Time truly does fly.  

As I mentioned before we put our home on the market and hope to sell sometime this year. We've had a few families visit for a walk-through so I'm optimistic that we will sell and get close to our asking price. Check out our pictures from the official listing. If you know anyone that wants to purchase a charming colonial in a quite Northern New Jersey neighborhood holla at me.

I took these pictures , so pardon the poor lighting in some.




Food Choices--LONG . . .

I have never been the type to eat unhealthy foods consistently. A McChicken here and there, but no hard core junk foods. Up until I gave birth I have always maintained my "ideal" adult weight. I realized at about 25 I would never be the 125 pounds of my teenage years {Shit, in order to be back at that weight I would have to give up more than 80% of the foods I love to eat} so I settled at 145 pounds. As I mentioned in a previous post we are trying for Baby Cruz #2 in the fall. I've began my detox/baby conceiving preparation process as of June 1 and since then I've notice a few changes to my body.


So here's the process I've begun:

  1. Prenatal and Omega-3s  vitamins
  2. No more processed foods. Period. Point blank. {This is really hard to do eating foods outside of home}
  3. A minimum of 51 ounces of water per day. This is about three 16.0 oz. water bottles. At home I keep a pitcher of water with lemon.
  4. Aerobic exercise FIVE TIMES per week. Working on Manhattan I walk a lot.
  5. Mindful of the chemicals put on my skin (i.e., lotions, nail polish, deodorant, tooth paste). I've resorted to using shea butter for all moisturization, organic soaps and tooth paste (Dr. Bronner's and Tom's of Maine).

There is one major reason why I haven't dropped my 20 post-pregnancy pounds I've so desperately wanted to drop. In a word, SUGAR! Sugar is my enemy. I drink too much damn juice. I realized this after watching this movie D insisted I view. It was produced by a company called Beyond Diet. I've highlighted several key points from the video and realized immediately where my problem lies. The video begins by saying sugar is the #1 enemy followed by processed foods. Check out the video here. After watching  I am more aware of food labels. I've always read labels looking for ingredients I can not pronounce (usually chemicals), but now I pay  more attention to the nutrition facts (particularly carbs, sugar, and fats).


To eat healthy is not cheap! I don't shop at "box-club warehouses" for food because most of their foods are laced with a shitload of chemicals. My bi-weekly trips to the market are to Trader Joe's and Whole Foods (every Wednesday and Sunday). On average I spend $150 per week on food for 2.5 people. That's $600 a month. Yeah, you thinking WTF that's too much. This is how I look at it: I want to be the healthiest, strongest, and leanest I can be. I would rather pay on the front-end with a large grocery bill than on the back-end with diabetes, hypertension, or high cholesterol being a constant companion. I've had intimate relations with how destructive these diseases can be on the human body. They are preventable, so I'm going to prevent them.

Highlights from the video:




  • Real Butter         
  • Whole Eggs
  • Coconut Oil
  • Olive Oil
  • Avocados
  • Raw nuts
  • Trail mix




  • Hydrogenated oil
  • Canola + Veggie oil
  • Margarine
  • Fake butter






  • Spelt Bread
  • Rice Bread
  • Millet
  • Quinoa
  • Sweet Potato
  • Fruits + Veggies




  • Pasta
  • Cereal
  • Bread (White, Whole Wheat)



What's Eating Your Skin?

Chemicals In Your Food


Hired a Doula

After weeks of agonizing over whether or not to hire a Doula I decided to go ahead and do it. For my sanity, to facilitate my natural birth, and to be an added support in dealing with my technocratic doctor. What's a doula you ask? Well a doula is typically a woman who provides non-medical support during labour and birth, and also the postpartum period. The person we hired is Lynn Christensen, CD, CLC, LCCE of Labour Day Doula Support. D and I had our first prenatal meeting with her last Monday. It went well, D was able to voice his reservations with having an additional support person, and Lynn was able to provide us with a lot of invaluable information that will help once I go into labour. We have our second prenatal appointment this Monday. Can't wait!


For more information on Doulas check out these sources: DONA + Childbirth International

Car Seat Decision Made

This evening D and I ventured out to BuyBuyBaby to purchase an infant car seat. The original plan was to purchase a Graco Snugride 35, but upon closer inspection I realized it's not really well made (well compared to the one we purchased. Armed with a 20% off coupon and the pressing need to purchase one today we selected the Chicco- Key Fit 30 Infant Seat and Base in Fuego.



Fuego colors 


The seat was priced at $179.99 minus $36.00 (20%), we paid $143.99. Not bad! D also got to see and test out the UPPABaby Vista stroller. Of course, he likes the Stokke Xplory better, but I reminded him it would not work for us, especially when we plan to have more children . . . SOON. The Vista may be used for up to 3 kids. We have to think about the next 4 years and not just the immediate future.



Today is 37 weeks and 2 days and the pressure in my pelvis is NO joke. For someone that is used to walking 20 NYC blocks 5 days a week, I can't even walk a half a block without feeling like my lung are not operable and having Braxton Hicks that stunt me. Oh the joys of the third trimester.

Interviewing a Prospective Pediatrician

Yesterday I called numerous doctors' offices looking to schedule a consultation. After calling and finding out that larger practices and popular doctors didn't have opening until after my due date I all but gave up. Alas the last office on my list, Dr. Tara Matthews, had a 1:45 p.m. consultation time today. YEAH! 


The interview was cool. Dr. Matthews was down to earth, easy to talk with, and knowledgeable about the things I care most about (i.e., breast feeding, vaccination schedules, and being able to come in the same day my child is sick). The office staff was friendly, the space was neat (the practice is moving to a larger location next month), and they have separate sick and well rooms for patients. Here were my interview questions:

  1. Is the office open in the early morning, evenings or on weekends?
  2. Who are the doctors on call when the office is closed?
  3. Are there regular call-in hours for talks with the pediatrician? Do you respond to questions by e-mail?
  4. How are emergencies handled? Will you have to go through a paging service? Will the doctor meet you at the hospital?
  5. Do you support breastfeeding? Until the child is what age?
  6. How do you feel about circumcision? 
  7. What are your views on the use of antibiotics? 
  8. How do you treat ear infections? 
  9. Are you open to alternative treatments for some illnesses? 
  10. How do you feel about immunizations? 
  11. Are you trained to care for a child with special needs? 
  12. Do you have any sub-specialties?
  13. Do you have separate sick and well waiting rooms?
  14. Will your initial meeting with my baby be at the hospital or the first checkup? What is your schedule for well baby checkups?
  15. Will you discuss my child’s general growth and issues like discipline and social development?
  16. What hospitals do you work with?
  17. Do you take my insurance? Is there an extra charge for…Advice calls during the day? Advice calls after hours? Medication refills? Filling out forms? Will any other fees apply?
  18. What tests are handled in the office, and what is done elsewhere? Where?

    Ask Yourself

    [  ] Was the office clean?

    [  ] Was the waiting room kid-friendly, with toys and books?

    [  ] How soon could the interview be scheduled? How long were you in the waiting room?

    [  ] Was the office staff helpful? Were the nurses friendly?

    [  ] Was the interview rushed? Did the doctor seem open to questions?

    [  ] Did the communication feel natural? Was the doctor easy to understand?

    [  ] Was parking convenient?



Stroller Decision Made

After visiting several stores, reading a millions words of products reviews, and watching hours of YouTube videos we've made a final decision on a stroller system for Baby Cruz. It meets my 7-point standards of being :


Compact/Easy to fold

One-hand maneuvering 

Accessories included

Shock absorbent


Growth potential (i.e., can use for subsequent babies)


It's the UPPABaby Vista 

UPPABaby is an eco-friendly company, dedicated to creating a better environment for our children. Eco-inspired organic bassinet; carrier is fully lined with a blend of organic soybean and cotton. And parents will be delighted to know that it can accommodate children from birth to 50 pounds, which means you won’t need to buy a new stroller when your child outgrows the original model.

UPPABaby Vista Stroller features a 3-position recline angle adjustment, and an elevated seat height so that your baby is closer to you and up out of the way of car fumes, dirt, and unwanted pets. The stroller seat features a pop-out SPF 50 canopy extension, which provides 30% more sun coverage, and convenient zip-in weather shield and mesh bug shield are included!

This chic, high-end, fully equipped stroller just rolled way ahead of the game by offering an option for baby #2. There is an optional Rumble Seat that attaches to the front of your stroller to accommodate your older child. So while your younger child sits snug as bug up top in the seat, facing you, your older child can ride in style down below. And just when you thought things couldn't get any better- if you add the UPPAbaby Piggyback riding board to the back, your once sleek, stylish single stroller can now accommodate three children: two sitting, one standing.

UPPABaby Vista Stroller Product Features

  • Birth to 50 pounds pram/stroller capacity; includes both bassinet and seat; removable and washable fabric; quick change harness loops.
  • Pram and reversible seat modes; 3 position seat angle adjustment; elevated seat height; 3 position handle; welded and formed aluminum alloy frame.
  • Sun and weather-shield included with easy zip attachment to canopy, new pop out SPF 50 canopy extension.
  • Eco-friendly design; all natural cotton and organic soybean fibers in bassinet.
  • Full size easy access spring arm oversize basket; rubber coated tires never go flat; high performance aluminum spoke wheels shock absorbing front and rear suspension.


Source here


Questions to Ask While on Tour of the L&D Unit

Advice from Enjoy Birth's Blog

Some things that are on standard birth plans just don’t happen in a lot of hospitals, and some hospitals are still in the dark ages.  I personally would recommend that if you need to have a birth plan stating a LOT of things will be different from policy, the best thing might be to choose a different hospital/birth location if possible.  You’ll note as an L&D nurse, I’m planning to birth at home.  ‘Nuff said.

So, some questions to ask the nurses on the L&D unit when you tour–
(Please note that many hospital “policies” aren’t policies at all, but just how things are routinely done.  Often you can overcome this with simple conversation or, for actual policies, a doctor’s order.  For instance, if everyone gets an IV and you don’t want one, your doc/midwife simply needs to write the order stating “no IV access needed until *previously agreed upon situation inserted here*” or for eating and drinking, your provider can write an order for a regular diet.) ~Source


-What is the procedure for admission? Do I go to a triage room to be examined first, or straight to a labor room?

-What is your policy on walking while in labor?

-What about after my water has broken?

-What is your policy on eating and drinking in labor?

-What is your policy on having IV access while in labor? Some facilities will require it, some require for “high risk” moms (you’ll want to ask what the definition is for that) and some leave it up to the provider.

-Is it standard for the anesthesiologist to obtain consent for anesthesia on all moms upon admission? (some places do this and if you’re not expecting it, I could see how this might derail your thinking a little.  On the other hand, if you know they’re going to come talk to you about epidurals, general anesthesia, emergency c-section, etc, you can be ready for the conversation, bubble of peace firmly in place :)

-What is your visitor policy? Can I have my husband and doula with me for the entire labor?  While I push? For delivery? In the OR?

-What is your policy on continuous monitoring during early labor? active labor? pushing?  Do you have telemetry monitoring (the kind Lyssa referred to where you can walk around and still be on the monitor) and if so, how many tele monitors do you have (some places have one for each room, some have one for the whole floor, some don’t have it at all).  You may also want to ask your provider(s) about how often their patients “require” internal monitoring.  In some places it’s reserved for emergencies;  however, in many places it’s used for convenience only, and it is explained to the patient as it is being inserted, not prior to doing so.  It’s much easier to measure and chart what’s going on with the baby when using internals, so be aware of that.

-What is your policy on photography and video during labor? during delivery? in the OR? after delivery?  (every place is different, and it doesn’t matter if your doc says it’s ok, if the nurse doesn’t agree or any other personnel in the room don’t agree, so you want to know what the rules are before going in)

-What is your policy on baby care immediately after birth? Is the baby taken to a warmer?  Is the baby taken to a nursery for the bath or is that done in the room?  Do they even have a nursery?  Is mom allowed time to nurse the baby before the footprints, weight, shots and drops are done?  After you ask these questions, remember that YOU are the one who gives permission for these policies to be carried out, YOU can refuse any treatments for baby at any time, and that if the baby is healthy YOU can have the baby discharged as a patient so that the policies are not even an issue.

- What is your policy on supplementing breastfed babies with formula? When do you consider it “necessary”?  Do you ever give breastfed babies a bottle of water?  Do you give pacifiers to breastfed babies?  (Every facility will be different on this as well.  The safest thing to do is tape a sign to the crib like the one you get in class specifying that your baby is breast only, and you do not consent to any pacifiers, bottles, or formula.  Taping it to the crib in addition to talking to your baby’s nurse is important because many people will come in contact with and care for the baby in the nursery (nursery techs, pediatricians, the person doing the hearing test, other babies’ nurses, lab techs) and you will not have the chance to talk to them or even know that they are caring for your baby.  If the hospital requires formula supplementation for low blood sugar, you can specify that you want to breastfeed if that happens.)

Some other things to remember about common practice in hospitals:

- Asking patients about their pain level is a JCAHO (the organization that accredits hospitals) requirement. Most facilities now have a checking system in place and nurses are often reprimanded if they haven’t charted that they asked about pain every so often.  (this varies from every hour to every 8 hrs).  I get around this by charting that the pt requests I not ask and states they will let me know when they want something.  You may want to have a conversation w/ your nurse stating you don’t want to be asked about pain and you’ll be sure to let her know if you need anything from her.

- How you push is not a hospital policy issue. It’s something to be discussed with your provider (midwife or doc) AND with the labor nurse assigned to you when you start pushing.  A lot of nurses count to ten and have you “purple push” and a lot don’t.  At some teaching hospitals you may have a physician with you the entire time you push.  At most hospitals, your nurse is with you the entire time and the phys literally steps in to catch, sews up any tears or episiotomy, and leaves.  Midwives in the hospital can fall anywhere in between that with some being very attentive and some being very busy w/ multiple patients or just more inclined toward the medical model and the fact that you have a nurse with you.  Find out what your provider does, explain what you want to do, and do the same when you meet your nurse.

- Perineal Massage is something again to be discussed w/ provider ahead of time, and with the nurse who is with you when pushing, since she is likely to be the one doing it while you push if you want.  There won’t be a hospital policy on this, and it’s also something your husband or doula can do, and if you’ve read up on it and he’s been doing it the whole time anyway, that might make the most sense, but will get you some strange looks from the staff :)

- Treatment of the baby at delivery is another one to discuss w/ ANY provider you might have, especially if you have a physician practice and you don’t want the baby manipulated (pulled on, etc).  Treatment of baby immediately after the birth is something discuss with the provider, but is ultimately up to the nurse.  Find out what the usual sequence of events is from your provider (do they deliver, clamp and cut the cord and hand baby to a nursery nurse at the warmer?  Do they deliver, lay baby on your chest, leave the cord alone and let you bond?  Do they hand the baby to the delivery nurse at the bedside and let her decide what to do?)  With some docs/facilities, just getting the baby on your chest for a few seconds after delivery before being whisked off to the warmer is an uphill battle.  In other places we would never dream of taking the baby away from mom in the first hours after birth for any reason short of a medical emergency.  So, find out the procedure from your doc ahead of time, THEN, talk to your nurse when you get there about what you actually want done.  If you need to, you can gently remind her that even if this is not routine for her, you are not consenting to having the baby taken from you.  Let her know what is important to you, and then, at delivery, you may want to remind doc “remember we talked about not pulling on the baby and leaving the cord intact until it stops pulsing”  Old habits die hard and if his/her habit is to clamp and cut before they even hand the baby to anyone, it might be done without thinking!  Another thing that is often done without thinking is that whoever has the baby (delivery nurse or nursery nurse) is generally rubbing and scrubbing the baby with towels/blankets to stimulate the baby to cry.  If you don’t want this done, you need to talk with your nurse about it before hand and remind at delivery.  Most nurses aren’t familiar or comfortable with waiting for a baby to pink up without this stimulation while still be oxygenated by the placenta/cord.  You may go through all that discussion just to have the nurse declare that the baby was blue and needed help, and do the rubbing and scrubbing anyway.  Letting the baby be and not drying him/her vigorously is just not done in most hospitals.

- Cord traction on the placenta is completely up to the provider you have at delivery.  Discuss ahead of time with ANYONE that might be the provider for your delivery and remind them at delivery.

- Circumcision is never done without signed consent, so refusing it in your birth plan really isn’t necessary.  Plenty of people don’t circ.  It’s something your provider will ask so they know whether or not they need to come back and do it, but I’ve never been in any situation where anyone just assumes a boy will get circ’d, and it fact, most people are happier when you choose not to.  Less work for the staff :)

- Induction methods and how long you’re “allowed” to labor before requiring induction will be up to your provider (midwife or doc) and not up to hospital policy.  That discussion needs to take place in the office and with the agreement/understanding of ANY physician or midwife that might end up on call.  If you have a big practice, you can have your doc/mw write out what you agreed to and sign it on an order sheet that you take to the hospital with you during your birthing time.  That avoids relying on the on-call person to order something they’re not used to, but doesn’t guarantee they won’t just order something else instead.

You asked about natural methods of induction–there are many methods used, especially by midwives, especially in birth centers or at home, that are not pharmaceutical in nature.  The most natural are things like sex (semen softens the cervix, orgasm causes uterine contractions), nipple stimulation (releases oxytocin, causes contractions, can be done w/ hands or a breast pump, or nursing an older sibling), or I would consider AROM to be natural as well, although it is definitely an intervention that has risks (it releases hormones, helps the baby come down on the cervix and generally speeds up labor, but the biggest risk is cord prolapse and other risks include infection).  Then you have gentle herbal options like taking Evening Primrose Oil in pregnancy (softens the cervix), using a labor tincture that includes blue and black cohosh with other herbs (usually prescribed by a mw in my area, stimulates contractions), or other remedies like castor oil (not for the faint of heart, induces diarrhea which irritates the surrounding tissues (including uterus) and stimulates contractions).  One other option, if I’m not mistaken, I think there might be an HB “baby come out” cd for post dates moms that might be useful.  Hospitals tend to be pretty unimaginative in terms of induction, and using pitocin is the standard.  There are other drugs that are used to soften the cervix or induce labor, but I think the birth plan is referring to speeding things up once labor is established, and that’s really only going to be done with pitocin or AROM when you’re in the hospital.

The main thing I would find out from your provider is why/when they would want to induce/augment you. Is there a time limit?  What if I get to 6 and don’t change my cervix for 2 hours? 6 hours? 12 hours?  What if my water is broken?  (my midwife has the attitude that as long as mom and baby are well, she’ll wait with me as long as I want to wait, and try to help with things like positioning to solve the problem if there is one.  many physicians are taught that 2 hours without cervical dilation is failure to progress, and is an indication for induction or c-section.  By the way, you do NOT have to induce immediately if your water is broken before labor starts.  If that happens, you should take measure to limit your chance of infection (no cervical exams, nothing in the vagina), verify well being of the baby (ie is baby still kicking?), and know how you want to proceed before speaking with your provider.)

Writing the Birth Plan
When it comes to writing the birth plan out, unfortunately, keep in mind the stereotypical nurse will groan aloud at the nurses station when she reads through your birth plan.  This is because often people come in with ridiculous requests (like getting a tub to birth in when there are no tubs on the unit) or worse, a stock birth plan found online with the blanks not filled in.

My suggestion is keep it concise and relevant. No more than a page, bulleted points are great, and use actual conversation with your providers as your primary means of communication, with the birth plan being an easy reference tool for reminders that the nurse can keep or even post at the bedside.   The John and Mary birth plan has a lot of excellent points that you should be educated about and is a great starting point for you to decide how you want things to go, but is not necessarily going to be relevant to every birthing location.  For instance, the part about leaving the hospital if you’re checked and found to be less than 4 cm is excellent, and something you should be aware of and maybe even discuss with your provider.  But, it doesn’t need to be written in a birth plan because you’ll just do it if you’re in that situation.  You haven’t been admitted yet, and there’s no reason that you should be, and most places will be happy that you’re smart enough to know you’re not in active labor yet.  You may even want to write out your own birth plan just to get your ideas down on paper, and a separate, more concise one for your providers and hospital.  (I have one for myself that includes no unnecessary cervical exams–not something I need to write for my midwife, but something I definitely need to tell myself because I get curious and check myself way too often!!)

This was a really helpful article!


Oh Placenta: The Organ of Life

I decided last night to catchup on the missed episodes of Doctor Oz and I arrived upon very interesting facts about the placenta.

This organ grows from the time of conception to eventually take over the production of hormones needed to sustain the pregnancy at around 12 weeks gestation (from your last menstrual period). It supplies your growing baby with a means of obtaining nutrients for development as well as a method of waste disposal. This is the only disposable organ ever made.

Other cultures have come to see the placenta in a completely different light. There are even ceremonies and beliefs held about the placenta that are completely foreign to us.

For example, in some cultures it is commonplace to leave the baby attached to the placenta, rather than clamp the cord, until the cord dries up and falls off. This is called a Lotus birth and is not practiced often in the United States. The theories behind this are that it helps slow the new family down and offers them more seclusion in the first few days when a getting to know you period is in order.

One thing you see here is that there are many families who will hold ceremonies with the placenta after birth. Some families will take the placentas and bury them in the ground to celebrate the new life given to them. This dedication of the placenta back to the earth or in honor of the child is becoming more frequent. A year later a tree or flower is then planted in the same spot to allow the placenta to nourish its growth. The reason that you would wait this year is that a placenta is so nutrient rich that it would kill anything planted before that period.

What about placenta art? Yes, you can make art out of it. Generally mothers talk about placenta prints. After the birth you take a piece of paper and lay the placenta on it. If it is fresh you can let the blood and amniotic fluid leave the print or others choose to use paints to add color. Now what? Well, hang your framed art or store it for safekeeping.

Then comes the practice of placentophagia, eating the placenta, is also practiced in some parts of the world. There are even meal like recipes for cooking placentas, including placenta stew, placenta lasagna, power drinks with blended placenta and others. Though some mothers have been reported to eat placenta raw.

There are many reasons listed for eating the placenta, including it helping stem postpartum depression and it supposedly helps to contract the uterus after the birth. We know that many animals eat their own placenta, including as a means to hide the scent from predators.

In our modern world this may seem barbaric and some have even said that this could spread HIV/AIDS or Hepatitis. While this is very true if people other than the mother consume the placenta, normally it is only the mother partaking of the placenta.

In Chinese Medicine, the placenta is known as a great life force and is highly respected in terms of its medicinal value. However, in this field it is not cook, but rather usually dried. To dry a placenta you would simply dehydrate it in the oven, then using a mortar and pestle grind it up. From there you can mix it with food or ingest it within capsules. I have actually known one mother who did this drying technique. It is my only personal experience with placentophagia.

No matter what you choose to do with your placenta, remember to value the life it has helped you nurture and bring forth. It is, after all, the Tree of Life.


5 Things to Do With Your Placenta

1. Craft A Teddy Bear

 Doing it for the Kids unveiled many additional fascinating, inventive ‘toys’ at the100% Design Exhibition in London. The goal of the exhibition is to inspire designers, educators and parents to be more critical of the toys that shape a child’s values and the impact toy making has on the environment.To make this unique Teddy Bear, the placenta must be cut and cured with sea salt, and then made pliable with a tannin and egg mixture before transforming it into a one-of-a-kind teddy. Creepy right??


2. Make Placenta Art Prints

Art appreciation is subjective, and it's quite possible that only the rightful owners of these one-of-a-kind placenta art prints will truly appreciate them. The above image is from one mother's website featuring the masterpieces she created with her placenta. She aptly titles select paintings, 'Jellyfish' and 'Balloons,' given their similar shapes. She also gives precise instructions on how to make placenta art -- but it's not for the faint of heart. She explains, "You don't need to use paint to make the prints. There is enough blood in the placenta to make the prints... You may want to remove some remnants of the amniotic sac. Place the placenta on the paper with the side you want to print while holding the umbilical cord in one hand."


3. Plant a Placenta Fruit Tree


You've heard of the proverbial tree of life -- well you can have one of your very own if you plant a placenta tree. The tradition in some cultures is to simply bury the placenta in the ground for various reasons ranging from demonstrating the connection between humans and the earth to protecting and ensuring the health of the baby and mother, but you can create a "living monument" to your child if you bury the placenta and then plant a fruit tree over it. Planet Green offers 5 Tips for Planting a Placenta Fruit Tree, which will help this idea take root in your yard.


Originial Source here

Hospital Reviews

I am half way through my pregnancy and I have yet to gain any weight. In fact I found a print out from a scale at the GNC store where I weighted myself a month before (June) I conceived and I was 160 pounds and 4 oz. At my last prenatal visit I weighted in at 149 pounds. The LPN said to me, "what's going on, you're supposed to be gaining weight  . . . you're 18 weeks already." So now I have a complex! I've been reading the message boards from the that corresponds to my expected delivery month and most of the girls on there said they have gained at least 10 pounds. Sh*$?, if they have gained that much weight by their fifth month by month eight they are going to be big as houses. I so don't want that to be me. To tell the truth just this week (week 21) is when I began to feel hungry more than twice a day. It's weird. I asked my mother how much weight she gained when she was expecting me and she said 50 pounds. DAMMMMMMMMMMMMMNNNN!!! That is just not going to work for me. 


Vexed . . . 


Anyway this is not what I wanted to discuss in this blog post. Last night I couldn't get comfortable enough to fall asleep before 2:00 a.m. so I did a little research. I began my search by looking for the best maternity care hospitals. This is what I arrived upon. The following hospitals have the best ratings in New Jersey. 

Hospital's Name


Monmouth Medical Center

Long Branch, NJ

Saint Barnabas Medical Center

Livingston, NJ

Englewood Hospital & Medical Center

Englewood, NJ

Kimball Medical Center

Lakewood, NJ

Holy Name Medical Center

Teaneck, NJ

Palisades Medical Center - New York Presbyterian Healthcare S.

North Bergen, NJ

University Medical Center at Princeton

Princeton, NJ

Christ Hospital

Jersey City, NJ

Saint Peter's University Hospital

New Brunswick, NJ

Morristown Memorial Hospital

Morristown, NJ

Valley Hospital

Ridgewood, NJ

AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center - Atlantic City

*Atlantic City, NJ

AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center - Mainland

*Pomona, NJ

Hackensack University Medical Center

Hackensack, NJ

Saint Michael's Medical Center - Saint James

*Newark, NJ

Saint Michael's Medical Center

*Newark, NJ

Underwood Memorial Hospital

Woodbury, NJ

Saint Joseph's Regional Medical Center

Paterson, NJ

Hoboken University Medical Center

 From here I checked out specific information about the hospitals my OB has privileges from ICAN of NJ.




Racism and Preterm Birth Weight

It's 6:00 a.m. on Monday morning and I am dog tired. Didn't get much rest this weekend due to my weekend bug. I've been sneezing, coughing, and breathing out of one nostril for four days now. This morning I feel a hell of a lot better and decided to find some intellectually stimulating material to read. To say I found just the perfect article is an understatement. On my new favorite blog the Unnecesarean, a post titled "Racism and Low Birth Weight 101". The article is deep . . . it begins by giving stats from the United States Department of Health and Human Services  on the infant mortality rate in this country. After looking at these numbers I am appalled that this is not common knowledge to all, especially for African Americans. It's scary. Here are some of the stats highlighted in the article:


United States ranked 28th in the world in infant mortality, in 2006.

In the United States in 2006, 28,509 infants died before reaching their first birthday, an infant mortality rate of 6.7 per 1,000 live births.

African American infants are more than two times more likely to die during the first year of life than white infants.

Infant mortality rate by race per thousand live birth
o Asian – 4.3 
o Blacks – 13.1 
o Native American – 8.3
o White – 5.7 
o Total – 6.7

The United States infant mortality rate was more than 3 times as high as the infant mortality rate in Hong Kong (1.8 per 1,000 live births), the country with the lowest reported rate in 2006.

Yes shocking I know. Please take the time to check out the post. I've included the direct link below. There is even a 20 slide presentation for you to view. Happy Monday!!

For the full article click the link below:

Sitz Bath How-To

This easy trick not only relieves the annoyance of hemorrhoids, it also eases vaginal pain post-birth. Here's how to do it.


  1. Fill the tub with enough warm water to cover your bottom and hips. Or, go to the drugstore and pick up a sitz bath that fits over your toilet. They're fairly inexpensive and will come in pretty handy over the next months.

  2. Make sure your water is the right temp: warm almost to the point of discomfort, but not hot enough to burn. Your doctor might recommend adding baking soda or another soothing element to the water.

  3. Have a seat, and stay there for the next 20 minutes or so. When you're done, gently pat the area dry.

  4. Repeat as needed.

Source: Pregnancy & Newborn, page 60, March 2010


Hiring a Doula

The next agenda item for me is to get recommendations for a doula. I plan to use a doula's services for the birth of our baby and postpartum. I've done some preliminary research and hope to make a decision within the next four weeks. 

labor doula or birth doula is someone, often trained but not required, who provides non-medical and non-midwifery support (physical and emotional) to a woman leading up to and during her labor and delivery. A labor doula may attend a woman having a home birth or a woman laboring at home before transporting to a hospital or a birth center, where she will continue her support. They do not perform clinical duties such as heart rate checks or vaginal exams, or give medical advice. Labor doulas rely on techniques like massage and position changes to help women through labor. -Wikipedia


Birth Doula

What does a birth doula do?

A birth doula is a NON-MEDICAL assistant who can help you with:

  • childbirth education and local resources
  • labor coping skills
  • reassurance
  • encouragement
  • comfort measures for labor
  • initial breastfeeding support
  • relaxation
  • visualization
  • massage
  • natural ways to work with long or difficult labors
  • vaginal birth after cesarean (V-BAC) support

What other things does a doula actually provide once hired?

  • prenatal meeting(s)
  • Being on call 24/7 until your labor begins
  • Continuous labor support at your home and/or your birth site, during active labor & birth and immediately after birth
  • A backup doula is arranged for you 24/7
  • A postpartum meeting
  • On-call phone support pre/post birth

What effect does the presence of a doula have on the mother?
When a doula is present during a birth, women report greater satisfaction with their birth experience, make more positive assessments of their babies, have fewer cesareans and medical interventions and suffer less postpartum depression.

Numerous clinical studies have found that the presence of a birth doula:

  • tends to result in shorter labors with fewer complications
  • reduces negative feelings about one's childbirth experience
  • reduces the need for pitocin (a labor-inducing drug), forceps or vacuum extraction
  • reduces requests for pain medication & epidurals, as well as the incidence of cesareans

What effect does the presence of a doula have on the baby?
Studies show that babies born with doulas present have shorter hospital stays, fewer admissions to special care nurseries, breastfeed more easily, and have mothers that are more affectionate in the postpartum period.

Postpartum Doula 

What exactly does a postpartum doula do?
Listing exactly what a doula does is difficult because every family has its own needs that become clear after the baby arrives. Here are just some of the ways a doula might help your family:

  • Help you master breastfeeding.
  • Catch up on laundry.
  • Prepare nourishing meals.
  • Show you how to bathe and dress your baby.
  • Educate you about baby's normal sleep patterns.
  • Reassure you about your newborn's  noises, behavior or appearance.
  • Care for older siblings.
  • Run errands.
  • Pick up groceries or supplies.
  • Handle phone calls and visitors.
  • Share a list of local parenting resources.
  • Provide referrals.
  • Loan books, DVDs, and instructional materials.

What do families gain by hiring a postpartum doula?
First-time parents find that working with a doula quickly builds confidence in their parenting skills. Second-time- and-beyond parents find that a postpartum doula offers a set of capable, helpful hands, so they have time to focus on bonding with the new baby while maintaining the all-important connection to his/her older siblings.

What are the benefits of postpartum doula care?
A postpartum doula's job is to impart knowledge to you in a non-judgmental way. A postpartum doula can:

  • Increase breastfeeding understanding and success.
  • Build your confidence in your parenting skills.
  • Answer questions and listen to your concerns about your baby.
  • Provide referrals, when and if necessary.
  • Offer emotional support.
  • Reduce feelings of isolation thereby cutting down on the potential for postpartum depression.

Won't we be uncomfortable having a stranger in our home?
Clients who work with a postpartum doula report feeling cared for, nurtured in their new role, reassured and grateful for the calm, professional and unobtrusive support of a postpartum doula.


All information from Doulas of New Jersey here



Having a Birth Plan

In my reading I discovered the concept of a birth plan. I always thought your water broke you rushed the the hospital after calling your doctor and waited until you were fully dilated to begin to push. Never in mind did I think you had to pre-plan all this. Well after reading numerous magazines on pregnancy I've come to realize having a simple, clear statement of your preferences surrounding the birth of your baby is vital to your sanity.

I will begin my birth plan list as my pregnancy progresses. So far I have 12 to include on this list. There are:


  1. I want my husband, parents, and mother-in-law in the birthing room with me. {I'm uncertain if that's too many people, but we'll see}
  2. Dimmed lights and some Jill Scott needs to be playing. {We're going to make it an iPod party. My Daddy already has the speakers.}
  3. Daddy has to double as the camera man. {Yes I want pictures!}
  4. I want to be upright (squatting) to delivery our baby.
  5. Would love to have a doula to massage all the right places during delivery.
  6. As far a pain management, I have a pretty high threshold for it so I am going to try my best to hold off on pain medicine/an epidural.
  7. My mother will act as liaison between medical staff and my family. {She has the nursing degree.}
  8. I want to immediately nurse and hold my baby ASAP.
  9. Circumcision if its a boy. 
  10. I want to delay the clamping of the umbilical cord for as long as possible. {Got to give my baby all the necessary advantages.}
  11. Saving cord blood is still up in the air. {It's going to come down to cost . . . maybe I'll put it on my registry.}
  12. I want my newborn to room with me during our hospital stay.


Dag my list is 12 items already. I'll try my best to keep it under 30, don't want to scare anyone.



Vertical Birth Delivery

I'm 14 weeks preggo today! Yeah Boy!

As I was reading the July 2010 edition of Pregnancy & Newborn I was engrossed by an article titled "Passport to Pregnancy" by Amanda McKinley. In the article McKinley shares the ancient traditions and cultural beliefs that involve motherhood and pregnancy from around the world. In this post I will share a few of the facts that I found the most captivating.

Did You Know?

  • Vertical Birthing In the Western world, giving birth while lying on one's back is typically recommended, as it allows doctors and nurses to safely control the birthing process; however, in other parts of the world, an upright birthing position is the norm. (This makes PERFECT sense!!) In fact, 80% of ethnic groups in AFRICA, SOUTH AMERICA, and ASIA, bring their babies into the world from a vertical stance, since the downward pull helps the uterus dilate and the baby emerge.  

{I told my sister I will definitely be standing up to deliver our baby. She laughed so hard and told me I better make sure I let my doctor and the delivery staff know before I stand up on the bed. :)}

  • Sex Therapy  The Hua of NEW GUINEA believe that frequent sex is instrumental to the healthy development of budding babies, so expectant moms are required to maintain regular lovemaking schedules.

{Now I wonder if this is a male construct and not something pregnant woman readily endorse.}

  • Baby Showers In CHINA gift-giving before birth is considered very unlucky- not to mention you could be stepping on the grandmother's toes. In EGYPT 7 days after baby arrives, parents throw a sebou to celebrate the birth. During this event, the new baby receives his or her name, religious gifts and jewelry are brought for the baby and new mom. In Japan friends and family don't meet the new addition or bestow gifts of money on the new parents until mom and baby have had ample time to bond and heal. The French language does not include a term for "baby shower". In France, organized celebrations and gifts are not typical before a child's first birthday.

{I totally love the idea of receiving jewelry for giving birth.}

  • Baby Name The most common baby name in the world is MUHAMMAD. The name has over 14 official spellings, means "one who is praiseworthy," and is used in many Arabic countries not only as a formal name, but as a polite way of addressing a man whose name you don't know.
  • Breast Feeding Breastfeeding is practiced in almost every society around the globe. 77 % of AMERICANS, 92.4% of SOUTH AMERICAS, 94.5% of ASIANS, and 98.4% of AFRICANS use nursing as the primary means of feeding their newborns.

{I cannot for the life of me understand why a woman who is physically able to produce milk and nurse would BUY a chemical based substance to nourish their newborn. It's just crazy to me.}


  •  Time Off A 2008 report from the Center for Economic and Policy Research found that many countries offer between three months and one year of paid leave. Here are some of the front-runners:

SWEDEN 47 Weeks*

GERMANY 47 Weeks

NORWAY 44 Weeks

GREECE 34 Weeks

FINLAND 32 Weeks

JAPAN 26 Weeks

ITALY 25 Weeks

FRANCE 22 Weeks

IRELAND 21 Weeks

DENMARK 20 Weeks

*Amount of paid parental leave for two-parent families.

{I'm feeling really deprived with my measly 6 weeks paid maternity leave.}

All verbiage taken directly from the article. My comments are enclosed within brackets.


Baby Registry Session One

This weekend was quite eventful. It began with me visiting Baby's R-Us, registering for 74 items and ended with me beginning a pregnancy workout plan.

During the work week I walk between 15- 20 NYC blocks from work to Penn Station; this journey is a little less than 1 mile (20 blocks is about 1 mile). I enjoy my daily walks because it allows me to get some cardio, enjoy the sites of Manhattan's Hell Kitchen and the Times Square areas. 


My adventure to Baby's R-Us was a bit exasperating. I realized early on that if you don't have a plan and have researched the specific items and brands you prefer the task of selecting items for your registry is hard. For instance, they have a selection of 4 or 5 breast pumps, 15 car seats, and 10 pamper choices. I was vexed. So I scanned the items that really didn't require much thought and made a list of the items I need to research further. Word of Advice: Know what you want before you get to the store. I plan to start a registry at a few other stores and we'll see how that goes.


My New Workout Plan

"When you're pregnant, the payoffs for developing strong abdominal and pelvic-floor muscles are plentiful. 'These muscles are a pregnant woman’s best friend,' says Julie Tupler, R.N., creator of Diastasis Rehab in New York City and author ofMaternal Fitness: Preparing for a Healthy Pregnancy, an Easier Labor, and a Quick Recovery (Fireside). “If your abs are weak, you won’t be able to push effectively,” she explains. Having a strong pelvic floor can also assist during labor, as well as help prevent urinary incontinence later."


"This workout, designed by Fit Pregnancy fitness editor Teri Hanson and based on the Tupler Technique, will also teach you how to work these muscles separately. The goal: During the pushing phase of labor, you ideally draw in the deep transversus abdominis, or transverse, muscle and relax the pelvic floor to let the baby out. Do these exercises in the order shown up to three times a day, performing 10 repetitions of each move and progressing to 20 reps when you feel strong enough."


Most important muscles

"The transversus abdominis, or transverse, is the innermost abdominal muscle. It encircles your trunk like a corset and involuntarily contracts when you sneeze. The action of this muscle is forward and backward, which compresses the abdominal cavity, and it can help you push during labor.

The main muscle of the pelvic floor, the PC (short for pubococcygeus), lies in a figure eight around the openings of the urethra, vagina and rectum. Kegel exercises strengthen the pelvic-floor muscles, helping to prevent the urinary incontinence that’s common after childbirth. To do Kegels, squeeze the muscles around the vagina as if you are stopping the flow of urine; hold for 10 seconds, breathing normally, then slowly release. Do 20 reps five times a day."


1. Belly breathing

Sit with your legs crossed and lower back supported, hands on your belly. Keeping your back and shoulders still, slowly inhale through your nose as you expand your belly. As you exhale through your mouth, draw in your abdominals, bringing your navel toward your spine.

Benefits: Strengthens abdominals.

2a. Belly dancing on all fours

Get down on your hands and knees, wrists under shoulders and knees hip-width apart. Keeping your back flat, draw your abdominals up and in, bringing your navel toward your spine; hold, breathing normally. Tilt your pelvis under, bringing your pubic bone toward your navel [A].

2b. Belly dancing on all fours

Hold and count to 5. When you complete the final rep, stand up by stepping one foot forward and pushing off your thigh with both hands [B]. 

Benefits: Strengthens abdominals, back and upper body.

3a. Elevators

Sit with your lower back supported, one hand on your upper belly and the other near your navel [A].


{S.N.} The "elevator" is analogy is a bit confusing because it's horizontal not vertical. You can imagine the 1st floor is when your abs are completely relaxed and your belly is loose. Squeeze your abs tight and hold for 30 seconds (abs close to spine is 5th floor). Then squeeze them in even tighter five times without letting your abs completely relax in between squeezes (5th to 6th floor). 

3b. Elevators

Imagine your transverse is a horizontal elevator with six “floors.” Inhale, then exhale, drawing your abs toward your spine to the fifth floor [B]. Hold and count out loud to 30. Do 5 squeezes from the fifth to the sixth floor. 

Benefits: Strengthens abs, especially the transverse.


4a. Squat Combo

Squat combo Holding a fixed object, such as a post or a sturdy chair, stand with your feet farther than hip-width apart [A]. 

4b. Squat Combo

Lower your body into a deep squat, keeping your weight over your heels [B]. (If your heels do not touch the floor, place a towel under them.) Do a Kegel (see “Most Important Muscles”), then draw your abs in as you exhale. Repeat combo 5 times.

Benefits: Strengthens abs, legs and pelvic floor.

SOURCE for Exercise Slideshow



What You Need and When

{0-3 months}

baby bed (bassinet, co-sleeper, or crib) and bedding
basic lightweight stroller
bouncer set
breast pump
breastfeeding pillow
diaper bag
diaper pail
layette (gift set of baby clothes)   
nursing bra
nursing top
rear-facing car seat
a simple toy


{4-6 months}

baby bathtub
bath toys
lightweight stroller


{7-12 months}

baby proofing products
books and toys
convertible or forward facing car seat
dishes and utensils
spill-proof cups