Local certified herbalist and student midwife, Bobbie, offers beautiful herbal teas, salves, tinctures, and more through her company, Herb & Owl.
Towards the beginning of my third trimester, I had the opportunity to receive some of Bobbie's "sweet child o'mine" prenatal tea blend. A tasty blend of red raspberry leaf, rose hips, nettle leaf, and lemon balm.
This tea is absolutely delightful! I love red raspberry leaf in pregnancy for its uterine toning properties. Rose hips and nettle provide nutritional support essential to growing a baby, and lemon balm is soothing and balancing for the nerves. I brewed up a batch, swirled in some honey, and basked in the yummy-smelling steam that swirled from my mug.
Tea is one of my self-care rituals. Especially when I'm having a down day, there's something so soothing about holding a hot cup filled with nutritious herbs that will support my body. In the United States, we don't turn to tea as often as I think we ought to. It's way better for you than sugary treats, just as comforting as fatty and unhealthy comfort food, and after you finish a cup there's an overwhelming sense of wellness that floods your entire being, body, mind and soul.
This delicious prenatal herbal blend by Herb & Owl is "spot-on" in my book! I drank it throughout my third trimester, even keeping some in the fridge to enjoy cold (which is the BEST way to drink it in the summer time). It's the perfect blend of great-tasting herbs, especially delightful with a spoonful of honey. All of the herbs are ideal for supporting your entire pregnant self, helping it prepare for delivery and grow a healthy baby.
Head over to Herb & Owl's website and grab yourself a bag of "sweet child o'mine" prenatal tea. You're going to love it!
Also, I'm giving away a bag of tea to two lucky pregnant mamas, along with your very own tea ball to brew it up with. There's only two steps to enter, it's easy and quick, and this bag of tea will likely keep you supplied for most of your pregnancy, depending on how often you drink tea.
The first thing you should know before reading my story is that yes, this was a PLANNED unassisted birth at home. Yes, without a midwife. I chose to do my own prenatal care, and the only medical assistance we had was a 20-week ultrasound anatomy scan. I educated myself, prepared my home and my husband, and made sure to stay 100% healthy. I had my third baby the same way, planned and unassisted, so this was my second unassisted pregnancy and birth, my fourth birth all together.
JUNE 23rd, about 9 pm - DUE DATE
Like I had for several mornings in a row, I lost a large piece of mucus plug first thing in the morning. This one was pretty large, but I didn’t want to get my hopes up. I went about my day as usual. After on and off tightening (“Braxton Hicks”) throughout the day, I began to notice a familiar regularity. I was bouncing on my birth ball after the kids had gone to bed, putting together my birth playlist and going through, playing my favorite songs, just trying to relax and not get my hopes too high. My last baby went to 42 + 3, and I did NOT want to have my patience tested like that again! So I bounced and relaxed and listened to my music while my husband did his own thing.
With the awareness of natural birth and its benefits spreading across the globe, more and more women are also turning to natural remedies for pregnancy symptoms. From chiropractic adjustments to herbal tinctures and teas, natural relief for physical ailments in pregnancy is now readily utilized. As the world-wide consciousness shifts, so does the awareness of emotion.
Emotional blockages can to more difficult pregnancies and labors, as evidenced in the FEAR-TENSION-PAIN cycle, where an emotion (fear) causes the body to react (tension and pain).
Midwives everywhere can attest to instances where emotional anxiety and stress in the mother led to a difficult delivery, with outcomes varying from simply having a long, drawn-out labor to an emergency c-section. This isn’t to say that all less-than-ideal outcomes are caused by emotions or beliefs, but there is significant evidence being built in the science and birth communities that high levels of negative emotion or belief has a great impact on our bodies’ abilities to perform optimally.
Just about every woman has them or will get them at some point in pregnancy. During pregnancy they can appear on the abdomen, thighs, breasts, and buttocks. Whether it's genetics or skin health that causes them, no one is quite sure. And although some women take them as their "badge of honor" and have a very positive view of their bodies postpartum, most women would rather not have them. There are about a million and one different supposed remedies for stretch marks available on the market today - from DIY "natural" creams and lotions, to essential oils, to expensive serums and pricey potions.
All claim to work, but do they really get rid of the "tiger stripes"?
There's a myth, or rather a mindset, being perpetuated heavily in our birth culture, that you have to "do" things to make labor happen. That it won't just happen on its own.
Women say things like, "I never went into labor on my own, so at 41 weeks I was induced."
"Baby's head wasn't engaged by 39 weeks, so doctor induced me."
"I have ZERO signs of labor! What can I do to make my body do what it's supposed to?" (said at 38 weeks).
The mindset is a belief that if we don't DO something, or if our bodies aren't matching the expectation and experience of ourselves, our doctors, our mother-in-laws or other family, or that one blog we read, then it's "broken", "not working", and "needs to be fixed".
Here's the truth.
Your body is WORKING PERFECTLY if you're dilated to one centimeter at 41 weeks pregnant.
This happened with my firstborn. I was dilated to one centimeter until FOUR HOURS BEFORE HE WAS BORN. FOUR HOURS - that's how fast my body changed!
Your body is WORKING PERFECTLY if you are dilated to a four or five towards full term and still aren't in labor.
A woman I know was dilated to a SIX with her third baby for SEVERAL WEEKS before labor started.
Your body is WORKING PERFECTLY if you have contractions on again, off again, painful and regular, every day or every other day for a couple weeks with very little change in dilation or outward progression.
Often times this is called "prodromal labor" or "false labor". Baby's position, your body's alignment and readiness, the hormone receptors in your body, your stress levels, your nutrition, etc. can ALL play a part in the incredible dance of labor.
I get it. You're exhausted. You're excited. You've waited nearly nine months for this baby to come, and you are READY, dang it. As someone who has personally waited as long as 42 weeks + 3 days for one of her babies to choose her birthday, I GET IT.
But so does your midwife when they say WAIT. And often accompanied with that WAIT is the much-needed, rarely-honored advice to REST.
Why is it so important to rest? Why SHOULDN'T we bounce on the ball, drink castor oil, try that herbal remedy and this farmwives' tale, eat pineapple and spicy food until our tongues and tummies burn?
Well, mostly because all of those suggestions done together will exhaust your body and give you bad digestion or even diarrhea. So if you are successful in starting labor, you'll be so worn out you may not be able to run the final marathon!
This is one of the questions women commonly ask once they are introduced to postpartum belly binding. (Still aren't certain what belly binding is or why you would want to do it? Click here to learn more about belly binding.)
The basic answer is YES! You can learn to belly bind yourself postpartum.
Whether your budget doesn't have room to hire a professional belly binder or there aren't any in your area, you can definitely learn this incredible skill and receive the benefits of belly binding postpartum.
However, word of caution: belly binding is tricky to learn, though the technique is simple once you have it down. And since you'll be binding yourself in the first days and weeks postpartum, you'll be tired, bleeding, leaking milk, sleep-deprived, and prone to hormonal mood swings. This makes belly binding yourself difficult, but not impossible, and there are a few things that will make it all the easier.
Whether you're binding yourself or having a professional belly binder come to your home after you have your baby, it's important to have enough material to be properly bound.
The most common mistake I see being made, especially when women DIY traditional belly binding, is not using enough material when they bind. Whether they made it themselves or bought it online, so often they end up with something that looks like this:
Uncomfortable and ineffective, even potentially harmful. And there's one main thing you can do to improve your experience belly binding - have enough fabric. A professional belly binder should provide the material for you. But what if you're planning to bind yourself? How can you know what kind and how much fabric you need? Keep reading!
Almost every doula brings a bag with her to every birth. But what's in that magical Mary-Poppins-like pouch? I can't speak for everyone, but I'll give you a glimpse of the most common items you'll find in mine - the items vary from time to time, but these essential things can always be found inside.
Why do you have that in your bag?
Some of these items might seem a bit strange, or maybe you don't know why a doula would want them at a birth, so here's a quick run-down:
This is the most common question I'm asked by women when they first learn about belly binding. They range from 3 weeks, 3 months, or even years postpartum. The benefits of postpartum belly binding are many (read about the benefits here!), so it's understandable that these women want to take advantage.
The first question I ask is: what is your motivation?
Is it weight loss? Belly binding doesn't exactly do that, and if that's your main motivation, then belly binding isn't for you.
Or is it support? Belly binding DOES do that!
If your goal is supporting your body to facilitate healing, then belly binding might be for you, but there are a few more things to consider.
Here's what I tell those women who ask me, "Is it too late to belly bind?"
Wife. Mother of three. Doula. Lover of cats, books, and chocolate. Filled with hope for humanity and joy with every new baby!