14 Gifts for a Wish List as a New Parent

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

14 Gifts for a Wish List as a New Parent

Shopping for pregnant people can be so hard. Knowing what to tell people to buy you as a pregnant person is so hard! One of the most meaningful gifts you can buy someone is something they need but one purchase for themselves! We’ve got you covered when it comes to gifting the pregnant people in your life things that will help make their pregnancy and postpartum a little bit more luxurious! 

  • Totum Women Cookies - These are cookies that taste good, support your milk supply, and have a wonderful mission! The mission behind this company is so much more than just lactation cookies! There is an online community aspect, online resources, and virtual events to help you know you are not alone! These are a wonderful gift for the new mama friend who is nursing or pumping! 

  • Thinx underwear - These are the best gift for a friend who you aren’t afraid to give an intimate gift--but one that will change their life! (Kinda like the friend who has never owned a vibrator-- you get her a vibrator!) These period underwear are perfect for postpartum! Matter of fact, they just created a postpartum set that was designed for supporting postpartum bleeding!

  • Silverette cups - These are a must have for any nursing or pumping parent. These tiny, but mighty silver nipple covers will be a game changer! Silver has natural healing properties such as being antibacterial, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, and antimicrobial. They are all you need to heal your nipples and keep them healed while feeding your little one!

  • Mama strut pelvic brace - This is the ultimate gift for a postpartum, birthing parent. Anyone who has carried and birthed a baby needs one of these pelvic braces! This brace can be used in pregnancy to support that growing belly in the last few weeks of pregnancy and in postpartum to support your healing pelvic floor! It has a fun gel pack that can go in the crotch for vaginal deliveries and in a pocket on the belly for cesarean births. It also has a place to hold in place postpartum pads. It’s an investment, but if you can use it third trimester through the fourth trimester and beyond, it’s worth considering! 

  • Baobei maternity leggings + Baobei Pro Bump - When folks are buying for pregnant people, usually they are really buying for baby. But, what happens to the bump? As it grows, it will need support and Baobei’s maternity leggings + Pro Bump belly support band are perfect for giving your pregnant pal a boost--literally! The leggings are so comfy and the Pro Bump is just the hug you need to get you through the third tri! 

  • Kindred Bravely Hospital Bag Bundle - This is a gift that you can’t go wrong with because it is the essentials that any birthing person needs to have a baby! A buttery soft robe, a nursing tank, nursing bra, a labor and delivery gown, plus undies and socks! This is so luxurious and is sure to bring a huge smile to an expectant person’s face this holiday season! 

  • Lavie massager + Haakaa - Breastfeeding is hard work and one of the most influential factors in someone’s success of breastfeeding is the support they have around them. Give your friend a gift that says, “I support your choices” by gifting them a Haakaa and a Lavie massager! The haakaa is a milk collector that is so handy in collecting the letdown of the breast not being nursed or pumped! It can also be used to unclog blocked ducts and relieve mastitis! The Lavie massager is the perfect compliment to the haakaa! It is a handheld massager that can be placed in your nursing/pumping bra to help milk flow and to stimulate milk production! 

  • Audible subscription - Finding the time to read as a new parent can feel impossible, but a subscription to audible can be the game changer you’ve been waiting on! Audible is an audiobook subscription that has all of today’s latest books! You can find any genre and search by title or author! Each month you get a book credit so it’s easy to make ‘me-time’ a priority when it slips so easily into your day as an audio book! Listening to audiobooks during nursing sessions are a great way to keep yourself away in the early hours of the morning! 

  • Soy based candles + slippers - Candles are such a big hit when it comes to holiday gifts but the candles we give to pregnant friends (and friends who are trying to conceive or have little ones in the home) matter! Traditional candles are filled with all sorts of icky chemicals including perfumes and fragrances that are known hormones disruptors! If you are gifting candles, please make it a soy candles! And, no candle is complete without a cozy pair of slippers!

  • Natural Deodorant + Spa Kit - You know how much I love primally pure and all of their products! Well, their spa kit is to die for and a guaranteed hit with any new parent! It comes with 2 bath salts, body oil, and a dry brush! While you’re at it, pick them up some of my favorite deodorant! (Another product that is extremely harmful to pregnant and postpartum bodies!) This is the perfect gift to say, ‘Relax! You’re worth it!’

  • Kitara yoni steaming kit - Remember when I said the perfect gift was a gift someone wouldn’t buy themselves--well, this is it! Yoni steaming has incredible benefits and can be especially helpful in the healing process after birth! Steaming can help bring sensation back, return blood flow, and help nourish tissues that were involved in labor and delivery. A yoni steaming kit is the perfect gift for the hippie friend who loves to be in touch with her spiritual side! (Yoni steaming should be avoided in pregnancy. Always check with your healthcare provider before incorporating anything new into your routines!).

  • Ember cup - This is the ultimate mom gift for the early riser! She probably doesn’t get to drink hot coffee often. With little babes running around, coffee seems to get cold so quick! The Ember cup will keep coffee warm for hours! This cup can be controlled by your smartphone and it learns when to heat and when to turn off! You can get really fancy and customize the temperature of your coffee with the range of preset temps!

  • Expecting You Journal - This journal is the perfect place for writing out your feelings, emotions, experiences, and desires during pregnancy! We encourage our clients and members of The Birth Lounge to journal about their ideal birth! Did you know that journaling has health benefits that can pay off in labor? Studies have shown it can reduce intrusive and avoidant thoughts, reduce stress, problem solve more effectively, get clearer on your expectations, and increase self-esteem! This journal has cute illustrations and quotes throughout to keep you positive and motivated towards a healthy and happy birth!

  • Expecting Better + Cribsheet - Professor Emily Oster is a Economist and research junkie! When she had her own children, she was shocked at the discrepancies in advice and the wide spectrum of information thrown at new parents! Naturally, Dr. Oster turned to the stats and data. Through this, we all get to enjoy the benefits of her hard work through her books. She has broken down the science of many pregnancy taboos (like drinking coffee, cleaning the cat litter, and eating deli meat) in her first book, Expecting Better. This is my favorite book to suggest to pregnant people. Her second book, Cribsheet, is diving into the science of parenthood (like sleep training, breastfeeding, and the language development in your child!)

The holidays look a little different this year! But, that doesn’t mean the spirit of giving is any less strong! We will be spending less in travel costs and more in shipping, but know this is temporary. I look forward to spreading the joy of the holiday season with those I love by the gifts I give!!

*Some of these are clickable links! Tranquility by HeHe makes a small percentage on some of the links included. We appreciate your support!

A Survival Guide: Holidays After a Loss

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

(HeHe's article is published for Birch Baby HERE in its entirety.)

The holiday season can be hard for those who have experienced a loss this year. At a time of year that people are expected to automatically be happy and be cheery and bright-eyed, it can be painful to have to pretend to be enjoying yourself while you are dying inside. One mother described it as “a dark place of heartbreak and anger.” 

Through my work with Mothers’ who have experienced loss (or any kind of trauma), I have found that having a structure of mindsets to help you survive in high-stress situations is helpful. I was considering a survival guide for the holidays for expectant parents who have experienced loss, but then I thought why not just a general survival guide to help when you are coping with loss, no matter what time of year it is.

  • Know your limits (It’s people's’ job to respect that boundary). You have the right to pick and choose which events you attend and which events will too overwhelming emotionally. You can be honest with folks, too. It’s okay to say you aren’t ready, yet. If that’s too painful, have an excuse thought out beforehand. 
  • Share your feelings -or don’t- either way, you must advocate for yourself. By asking to be left alone or acknowledging the fact that you want to share is helping those around you learn how to best support you. Otherwise, you can politely tell people how they can best support you when they ask. 
  • Respect your own personal boundaries. At one point or another, you will find yourself in a situation that you thought you could handle, but turns out you weren’t ready. That’s okay, but know when to take a minute to be alone. Connect with your body, begin to recognize your body’s signs of feeling overwhelmed, and begin to remove yourself before you feeling out of control. 
  • Know when it’s bigger than you. Check out this blog on the “bigger than you approach” to interacting with challenging situations. We all have that one relative or friend of a friend who just won’t get it--no matter how hard you try. That’s okay. It’s not your job to help every single person you encounter understand, but it is your job to recognize when you’re causing yourself more stress than will pay off in the end. 
  • It’s OK to not be OK (and to say no). This is an important one. Refer to #1 where it says it’s okay to not only pick and choose which events you attend but to also be honest with people. See #3 where it says recognize and remove yourself from situations. I can’t stress enough how ok it is to not be ok. Literally, everyone has had moments when they were not okay and no one should expect you to be okay before you are ready. 
  • Start a new tradition to remember your baby. This one can be fun and can look like anything. I urge you to make it a celebration rather than a remembrance. I used to work with a family that got donuts each year to celebrate their angel baby’s birthday. They had two kids after their loss who knew what the holiday was and looked forward to the discussions about their brother each year. It can be as formal as you’d like, if that is your style, or as laid back as a donut date.

Part of the healing process is pushing yourself a healthy amount, but also recognizing the healing and work you still have to do. It’s okay to remember that sometimes the only cure is time. Surrounding yourself with those who care about you and will support you during this time is essential. Be vigilant on how much you push yourself during the holidays as it is already a stressful time of year. It’s okay to say no and to respect your own boundaries.

Happy Holidays to all the parents anywhere on this parenthood journey! Stay strong out there and remember to lean on your village when you need!

Don’t forget to check out our newest adventure The Birth Lounge, listen in to The Birth Lounge Podcast, and follow us on Instagram at @tranquilitybyhehe! 

How to Choose a Good Prenatal

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

How to Choose a Good Prenatal

This is one of the most common questions we get! It can be so overwhelming to dive into what seems like hundreds of brands. How do you know what to look for? How do you know what brands are trustworthy? Let’s dive in because the answer might surprise you!

What are you looking for?

Choline: This is one of the most important nutrients that pregnant people need, yet so many providers don’t share (or know?) that it is SO important! Many older docs don’t keep up with updated research and their patients pay the price! (This is a shameless plug for yet another reason to join The Birth Lounge so you have direct access to all updated research to make your own choices about your care + know what questions to discuss with your provider.) Choline is essential in brain and spinal cord development-- specifically the hippocampus which is involved in memory! Most pregnant women in the U.S. are not achieving choline intake recommendations of 450 mg/day. The yolk of eggs is very rich in choline! You can also get Choline from fish, nuts, & legumes! Be sure to get your daily Choline intake as a new Cornell University study suggests “When expectant mothers consume sufficient amounts of the nutrient choline during pregnancy, their offspring gain enduring cognitive benefits.

Folate or Folic Acid: This is a vitamin that helps support neural development and spine development. Sufficient amounts of it can prevent birth defects like anencephaly (baby is born without parts of their skull and brain--fatal) and spina bifida (parts of baby’s spine is exposed at birth--requires surgery). It is important to note the difference between the two. Folic Acid is synthetic (lab made) and is not the naturally occurring form of Folate. It’s very important to get adequate folate and to consume it everyday since your baby develops everyday. The CDC recommends every pregnant person consume 400 micrograms daily (there are a few risk factors to discuss with your provider to determine if you need an increased amount) and March of Dimes recommends 600mcg/day . You can get folate from food in broccoli, brussel sprouts, leafy greens, avocados, nuts/seeds, and eggs. Some fortified foods (confirm they are fortified with folic acid or folate) like cereals, breads, flours, and other processed grains can be a good source, too!

Iron: We know that iron levels are important in all humans--even outside of pregnancy. Iron is a mineral that helps prevent anemia and this is especially important in pregnancy. The risk of iron deficiency during pregnancy is extremely likely because as the baby grows, your blood volume changes and it becomes harder for your healthy red blood cells to carry adequate oxygen to your whole body. Iron gives you energy and low iron levels can lead to an increased risk of premature birth, low birth weight, and postpartum depression. It is recommended to have 27mg per day while pregnant. 

Vitamin K2: Vitamin K is involved in a lot--your baby will received vitamin K after birth to control bleeding and you need it in pregnancy because it supports bone health and heart health (think blood clotting, too). It helps prepare your body to absorb and use calcium, which builds and maintains bones (so you and your baby need this vitamin). A good source of Vitamin K is fortified cereal, brown rice, and eggs! You can also eat lots of leafy greens like brussel sprouts, kale, and broccoli. Talk to your provider about the amount of Vitamin K you need in pregnancy based on your weight!

Magnesium: This is a magic mineral!! I use magnesium everyday and recommend people talk to their doctors about it, too! It has so many benefits in pregnancy like reducing your risk of preterm labor and pre-eclampsia! It also reduces anxiety and aids in better sleep! Magnesium helps regulate your body temperature and the formation of new tissue (maternal and fetal). 

Iodine: Iodine supports healthy brain development (low levels have been linked to lower language skills) and your daily requirement of iodine increases during pregnancy. The World Health Organization calls the increase ‘substantial’ and recommends everyone consume iodized salt. They even say to talk to your provider because even iodized salt may not be enough. A 2008 study shares that iodization actually does matter. A 2015 study negated this in saying that we should be very careful with suggesting every pregnant person substantially increase their iodine intake because excess iodine can also have detrimental impacts (as does too little). The CDC (and American Academy of Pediatrics) recommends every pregnant and breastfeeding person consume 150 micrograms daily. Talk to your provider to make sure you are getting the recommended amount from your diet + prenatal.

Selenium: This is an essential element to our thyroid’s function and, like so many other things, it decreases in pregnancy. It plays a role in fertility and selenium deficiencies can be the reason for miscarriages or even damaged nervous systems of newborns. Talk to your doctor to make sure you are getting the correct amount of selenium!

What are brands you can trust?

To be honest, it matters a lot because not all prenatals are equal! We aren’t so much worried about the brand you choose, rather looking at how much of each vitamin and mineral you are getting each day. Also, we want to make sure they don’t have a bunch of fillers and unnecessary ingredients. This is a great resource to see everything you may see in prenatals, why you need it, and how much you need of each. 

You’ll also want to consider your diet in this equation, but a lot vitamins and minerals require a large consumption of certain food groups (as in, more than what a typical person would eat) to get enough. My friend and Prenatal Nutritionist, Ryann Kipping (also the creator of The Prenatal Nutrition Library), says that her motto is always “Food first,” meaning try to get the majority of your daily vitamin/mineral consumption from the food you are eating before we turn to additional supplements.

What if you are taking a prenatal that has some of the crucial things, but not all?

Talk to your provider about supplementing! First, do some research on the amount of each vitamin and mineral you are supposed to have during pregnancy. Then, compare that to what is in your prenatal and journal what foods you eat each day for 14 days. Find the discrepancies and share that with your provider at your next doctor’s appointment so you can determine the best course of action to getting you the recommended intake of each essential vitamin and mineral needed for your baby’s development. 

You can supplement things like iron, magnesium, and folate! 

The Bottom Line

Choose a prenatal that feels most aligned with you and doesn’t make you feel icky! Don’t be afraid to test out various prenatals. If you think your prenatal is making you feel off/nauseas, please don’t continue to take them ‘because you have the whole bottle left.’ This is your body telling you that the current prenatal you’re taking isn’t a best fit for you. 

Find a shelf stable prenatal that is certified third-party tested so you can be sure all the ingredients are what they claim to be and safe for consumption (rather than fillers). When you choose your prenatal, do your own research on any vitamins or minerals you may need to supplement with then ask your provider about additional supplements! 

Ps. Always take your prenatal with food! Here’s one last really cool resource for you! 

Podcast Recs: True Crime + Women's Health

Wednesday, November 4, 2020

Podcast Recs: True Crime + Women's Health

This isn’t going to be the typical blog that you find here! In true Halloween spirit last week, I asked our Instagram audience if they were into True Crime Podcast. This led to most folks saying “Duh!” and me digging deeper by asking who wanted to hear about my favorite podcasts that blended True Crime and women’s health?! The overwhelming majority said ‘hell yeah!’ So, here we are! 

Before we dive into these, I want to provide a brief trigger warning. These podcasts combine true crime with women’s health. Some readers & listeners may find the content traumatic. Fetal Abduction Podcast* may be especially triggering for anyone who is reading and pregnant. 

Sick Podcast 

This was my first introduction to an investigative podcast about women’s health (I am a long time listener of Crime Junkies). This podcast was the tiny hairline fracture I needed to fully break the dam and open my eyes to just how deep the deceit and corruption runs in women’s reproductive health. This podcast follows the story of Dr. Donald Cline who was a fertility doctor in Indiana. Cline used his own sperm throughout the 70’s and 80’s to father more than 50 children. He told patients that his ‘donors’ were medical residents and wished to remain anonymous. The podcast interviews a number of his children including footage about a face-to-face meeting where the children confronted Cline. Thanks to this story, there are laws being put through legislation in recent years to protect victims of heinous crimes like this and to make such acts illegal. (Surprisingly, there were no laws about this before…)

The Immaculate Deception

This podcast dives into a very similar story to Sick. This time we are in the Netherlands and following Jan Karbaat who was a very successful doctor at Rotterdam Clinic. In the 80’s, Dr. Karbaat took advantage of women in the most vulnerable situation—artificial insemination. Dr. Karbaat did not screen his donors, used his own sperm, and used the same donor hundreds of times. He made his clients sign a ‘secrecy contract’ and if they refused to sign, e refused to treat. Vile! Like Cline, his secrets were exposed by his own children —nicknamed ‘The Karbaat Kids’— and listeners are taken through a few of their lives. The podcast even interviews a patient of Dr. Karbaat’s and the emotions of navigating fertility issues before it was so widely known and then again years later when the news broke about the horrific scandal.There is currently a court case against him by his victims so some of the information can’t be shared with the public yet.

Fetal Abduction*: A True Crime Podcast

This is a true crime podcast. This was the most triggering for me—I think because it involves so much death. If you are pregnant, I caution you to listen to this if you are susceptible to recurring thoughts or anxious feelings after reading stories involving pregnancy. This is a true crime about pregnancy. If you don’t know what a fetal abduction is—it’s the monstrous act of cutting a baby from the womb of it’s parent. This podcast follows the history of fetal abductions in America. The podcast shares that the first known case happened in the 70’s and is incredibly rare. This one is insanely psychological—the host dives into the minds of the evil people who commit these crimes. 

Up Next on My List? Verified: Dust Up 

This podcast looks so good! I’m excited to dive in! It dives into the allegations that Johnson & Johnson’s baby powder causes ovarian cancer. It follows a group of women diagnosed with cancer and the lengths the nationally known brand goes to convince consumers that the product is safe and should still be a trusted household name. Apparently they are demeaning of the scientists who are speaking out against this. I always say if someone has to belittle you to prove they are right, they’re probably hiding something! I’ll report back! 

Okay, that got heavy, but they are such good podcasts…if true crime and women’s health is your thing. If you’re here for pregnancy tips, let me share this 45-minute free masterclass. I share my top 4 things birthing people need to know going into labor! Enjoy!

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