I’m about four weeks out from my delivery date with Bumpkin 2, which means a lot of waiting and taking care of last minute things. I honestly can’t wait for the pregnancy part to be over ūüôā Until then, however, I’m trudging on and wanted to leave you with some health and fitness articles and recipes for you to try! Enjoy, and hope your March is nicer than your February. (I know a lot of you have been slammed with snow!)

Articles

The Essential Link Between Emotional Intelligence and Behavioral Change

Lack of Exercise Deadlier than Obesity?

All About Overtraining

Targeted Training vs. Functional Fitness

4 Core Movements for Beginners

Increase Mobility/Strength with This Bodyweight Circuit

A Beginner’s Guide to Yoga: 5 Widely Practiced Poses

Yoga Beginner Series (Part III)

Prenatal Gentle Flow (yoga)

Vets and Chronic Pain

How to Fall in Love with Whole Foods

Clash of the Food Titans

Flavonoids for Healthy Aging

Artificial Sweeteners and Gut Microbiota

Aromatherapy for Muscle Tension: Make an Inhaler

DIY Mustard Bath

7 Ways to Remove Toxins From Your Life

Recipes

4 Green Smoothies to Kick-start the Day

Italian Hot Chocolate

Banana Pancakes

Yeasted Belgian Waffles

Homemade Greek Yogurt

Herb-roasted Chicken with Herb-infused Gravy

Flourless Almond Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Homemade Samoas (grain-free)

Orange Poppyseed Bundt Cakes (grain-, nut-free, Paleo)

24 Rhubarb Recipes

I’m a part of a few Facebook mom groups, and sometimes I come across posts that I find rather humorous. Not because I think the mom posing the question lacks common sense or a knowledge base. Rather, I smile because I had the same thoughts as these things happened to me for the first time.

I’ll start by saying that you can (most often) blame your hormones for the random things that happen to you after you have your baby. Just as everything gets wacky while you’re pregnant, things go a little crazy again as your body returns to it’s pre-pregnancy self. As levels of estrogen and progesterone readjust to a (perhaps, new) baseline, you start pondering what the heck is happening to your body. Here are some postpartum (PP) phenomena, my own thoughts when I went through them, and how to handle any/all hurtles.

Breastfeeding: for mamas who are going to breastfeed, the first 2-4 weeks (sometimes longer) are a real roller coaster ride. Your breasts swell. You hurt in ways you’ve never hurt before. You’re tired from round-the-clock feedings. You’re wondering if baby ever gets enough. You’re wondering if you can really tolerate baby latching one more time.

The good news is that it gets easier. The not-so-good news is that it takes some time. You and baby have got to work as a team to figure out how best to breastfeed. You may really need some outside help too. Never hesitate to contact your family doctor/pediatrician and/or lactation consultant (LC), and consider joining your local La Leche League, International, chapter. Most often, you’ll find a ton of support through these channels, which will give you a morale boost and the courage you need to continue.

On one side note, there still are a lot of doctors out there who recommend, or even push, supplementation when you come in with questions and/or for checkups. Virtually all women make enough milk to sustain their children (I think it’s less than 2% don’t and/or cannot produce enough breast milk). This, however, doesn’t mean that your supply can’t dwindle or dry up sooner than later–another reason to get into contact with good LC’s, who can recommend safe foods for boosting milk supply. If your doctor recommends supplementation right off the bat, consider seeking a second opinion before making a final decision. I know I didn’t have any issues with milk supply; I also know that one of my girlfriend’s did about four months PP, and needed to supplement her baby’s diet so he’d gain weight. In the end, you’re mom. You know what’s best for your baby. Go with your gut.

The jiggle: one of the most common posts I see come from women ready to reclaim their pre-pregnancy body. They’ve got baby pudge and, six weeks PP, they want it gone! Now!

Let me start off by stating that it took almost 10 months for you to grow a baby. It’s going to take you at least that much time to have your body go back to it’s pre-pregnancy self. (It may never go back totally, but more on that in a second.) That doesn’t mean don’t start back up with your exercise and/or diet routines after your six-week PP checkup. It does mean take it easy, gradually ease into your routines again, seeking advice on diet if you’re breastfeeding so your supply doesn’t diminish, and on exercise if you’re still feeling aches and pangs in certain areas of your body. Note what makes you feel discomfort, and pay particular attention to anatomical alignment and how to perform the exercise properly.¬†I know that when I moved into side plank a certain way, I’d feel a terrible pain in my pelvis, so I made sure that I didn’t transition into that particular exercise in that particular way again for at least six months.

Let me reiterate: take your time. You’ll thank yourself later.

Diastasis recti: some women experience a separation in their abdominal muscles (the¬†rectus) after having a baby. If you do experience this,, seek guidance from your healthcare provider before returning to your exercise regimen. As nice as it’d be to crunch your way to a flat belly, that may actually make the separation worse rather than better.

Symphysis pubic dysfunction (SPD): the same advice applies to SPD. Because the hormone relaxin works so nicely to make your ligaments stretch so you can push baby through the birth canal, sometimes it takes a long while for things to line up properly again. Sometimes, you need to go through physical therapy. Seek medical advice if you find yourself having discomfort or pain in your pelvic/pubic region, even if you’ve had your six-week PP checkup.

The pants dance: yep. It happens. As much as we jump, dance, squirm, kick our legs, lie back on the bed, our pants might not fit. Ever again. You might have to go shopping (gasp!) for new ones. It might also just take more time for your hips to realign to their PP positions (or close to them). A lot of women’s hips change shape after they have babies. It’s natural, and will making having subsequent children much easier. Don’t fret about it. Embrace your new curves and celebrate the life you’re now holding in your arms!

Holy hairballs: around 3 months, all that luscious hair you grew while pregnant will start falling out by the handful, particularly around your temples. It will eventually stop (in time for your little one to start pulling it out by the fistful), but I still remember feeling aghast at how much I lost.

I’m sure there are more things I’ve overlooked. Each woman experiences pregnancy and postpartum life differently. When in doubt, talk with your doctor, pediatrician, LC, or another professional. Mom blogs can be great and make us feel good (or bad), but it’s always wise to get advice from all sides of the spectrum in order to make the best-informed decisions for ourselves and our children.

Every year, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) puts out a list on the top 12 foods you ought to purchase organically, and the Clean 15 you can pick up in the grocery store (and properly wash and prep once you get home). While the organization isn’t the end all, be all of research into the harmful affects of chemicals, they are committed to bringing you, the consumer, the latest research being done and what is happening in Washington, D.C. with regards to appropriate food labeling…or lack thereof.

In the most recent IDEA/ACE Fitness Journal (February 2015), it was announced that the EWG has recently come out with a Food Additives Dirty Dozen. In their press release, one of their senior scientists stated that while not all food additives are cause for concern, those found on this list are good to identify, especially (the article includes) since so many of them are restricted and/or banned in other countries. The list includes chemicals like nitrates/nitrites, potassium bromate, and propyl paraben. (The full list is linked above.)

While browsing their latest research page, I also discovered a Dirty Dozen Endocrine Disruptors list that I thought I’d post along with the others. While BPA is possibly the most well-known on the list due to its risks highlighted associated with plastics (mainly, but also canned goods) in the last several years, others, like phthalates, are also good to keep in mind when out shopping not only for food but also for health/beauty products. Again, the full list is posted above.

Last month, I discussed what essential oils are. This month, I wanted to briefly touch on why you might consider using them. Before I do, I’d like to reiterate what I’ve said many times before:

I’m not a doctor, and therefore I cannot diagnose, treat, cure, and/or prevent any disease. My intention is to discuss ways in which you may be able to help maintain wellness and quality of life. Since essential oils are considered supplements by the FDA, companies and sales representatives cannot claim that oils treat specific conditions/diseases/illnesses, nor should they. Always consult your physician,¬†dietitian, naturopath, etc., before starting to use any new¬†supplement or regimen, including essential oils.

One of the main reasons people are attracted by essential oils (EO’s) is because numerous medical studies have found that they have¬†antiviral, antibacterial, antimicrobial, antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, and antibiotic properties. (Check out PubMed and Aroma Science for specific studies on EO’s, including this month’s spotlight oil, lavender.) They work on your physiology, at the cellular level, which is why so many people recommend them and why so many researchers are looking into EO’s for potential medical benefits. This is also why you want to look for therapeutic-grade essential oils and steer clear of most brands that are sold in conventional retail stores.

EO’s have hundreds of uses, including as bug repellent, anxiety reducers, air purifiers, and flavors in cooking. It is always best to get guidance when starting to use EO’s. If you have one near you, consulting a naturopath physician or aromatherapist is the best route to go–they have undergone the education necessary to understanding the chemical compositions of EO’s and how the act/react with one another and in the body under certain conditions. However, sometimes these resources are cost prohibitive. Therefore, in addition to websites like PubMed and Aroma Science, you might check out the following resources:

There are several good blogs out there; the one I’ve started following the one written by Andrea Butje of the Aromahead Institute, who incidentally is having free webinars on the AI’s aromatherapy course. There are also several Facebook groups out there advocating the safe use of EO’s, including Using Essential Oils Safely. Most of all, the more you research and learn, the more you’ll be able to use EO’s with safety and skill.

One final note before I finish. A lot of people recommend using EO’s on children, particularly lavender. Because they have such powerful properties, you should not use undiluted EO’s on children under the age of 6. If you chose to use an EO on their skin, it should be highly diluted (one drop in at least 2 Tbs. of a carrier oil, like fractionated coconut oil), but may be better and more safely utilized in a diffuser. EO’s should only be used on young children with purpose and possibly should be avoided on infants altogether. Again, always check with your pediatrician before using any EO’s on your children.

This Month’s Spotlight Oil: Lavender angustifolia

This Month’s doTERRA Deals:

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Please note, I am a doTERRA wellness advocate. While the main goal of these posts on EO’s is to educate, you can go to my website to purchase oils. I do earn a small commission from your purchases, and thank you for any business you send my way. I hope you find them as nice and useful and I have!