Saturday, April 3rd, 2010

Third Trimester Update

by Kristen Suzanne in Uncategorized

Whew. Third trimester hormones that make me loopy are setting in. Fatigue from the growing baby inside me effects me from time to time. And, as many of my Facebook friends know, I found the cutest stray puppy who turned out to have a broken leg (poor thing!), is not potty trained (he’s about 8 months old we suspect), and he needs weekly vet care (he’s now wearing a splint for 6-8 weeks in the hope that we can avoid surgery). Did I mention that he needs constant supervision? I’m getting a bit of a head start in my mommy training to say the least. He wants to be by my side all day, and needs to be carried a lot. Needless to say… I’m a tad exhausted – lol. But. He has the sweetest and cutest face. I can’t help but melt every time he looks up at me. We’ve named him Miso.

Meanwhile, my belly is growing, my lower back aches terribly (I’m not sure if it’s from bending over so much to pick up the puppy, my crazy lack of sleep which includes sleeping on the couch many times with Miso in about 2-4 hour increments, the baby pressing on my back, or a combo of everything. My allergies are crazy, too, and that can be tiring in itself. I’m pooped.

But… I’m filled with love and excitement about the last couple of months in my pregnancy (hoping my back improves). And, I’m grateful that we found Miso and saved him from what would most likely have meant death to him (we found him in the desert area of our neighborhood where the hot sun beats down and bobcats, owls, and coyotes roam. The poor little guy couldn’t walk because of his broken leg).

On a raw food note… I’m going through the final edits of my next recipe book. I’m very excited about that! And, I’m working on some other projects (when Miso gives me a five minute break – lol).

Hope everyone has a wonderful holiday weekend.

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Friday, March 26th, 2010

Winner of my 21st Awesome Giveaway – Free Vegan Protein Grenades!

by Kristen Suzanne in Uncategorized

Congratulations Elena Gracia! Your name was chosen as the winner of my 21st Awesome Giveaway. The prize: One variety pack of Protein Grenades! Simply email me with your address so I can get the awesome prize sent to you.

When asked, “In which activity would you like a lesson from an expert?” “What are your favorite sources for vegan (i.e., plant-based) protein (raw or not)?”

Here is what Elena Gracia had to say…

Sunwarrior Protein — it’s practically perfect!

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Friday, March 19th, 2010

The Benefits Of Trampolining / Rebounding

by Kristen Suzanne in Uncategorized

This post about the benefits of trampolining (some of you may know it as “rebounding“) was written by guest blogger, Rita G, who is a former nutritionist, researcher (she helped with research for The China Study!), and is writing a book about incorporating healthy living habits in our stressful, busy lifestyle.

The Benefits Of Trampolining

One type of fitness and recreational activity that is often neglected or forgotten about is that of trampolining. This can be a very enjoyable type of workout and will also provide a number of fitness benefits. For many people it will not even feel like they are doing a workout at all, therefore is a great resource to turn to when you’re just plain bored with your classic gym routine.

Here are some of the main benefits you’ll get from trampolining.

Extreme Stomach Strengthening
One of the biggest benefits you’ll get with regular trampoline sessions is a great abdominal core workout.  If you’re searching for a six pack, this is one exercise type you won’t want to miss. Each and every time you rebound into the air your body will have to tighten up to support yourself for landing, which will primarily be accomplished by the abdominal muscles tensing up.  This constant tensing-relaxing cycle is enough to help strengthen the core and also improve posture in the process.  In fact, the abdominal muscles are going to be called into play to a larger extent during trampolining than in most of the boring sit-up movements you may have performed in the past.

Low Impact
The second big benefit of adding trampolining to your workout program is that it is very low in overall impact. You may have thought the opposite – after all, you are rebounding up and into the air, but remember that because you are heavily cushioned when you land back on the trampoline, this takes much of the pressure right off the joints. If you usually suffer from knee pain during normal exercise such as running or biking, this is a good substitution.

Lymph System Improvements
A third nice benefit of trampolining is that it tends to help out with lymph system drainage. This will aid with the removal of any toxins or other poisoning substances that may be present in the body, ensuring that your immune system stays nice and strong.

Cardiovascular Benefits
One of the most common goals of any fitness program is to enhance your overall cardiovascular system.  This is what ensures that your heart stays working effectively and that you have blood pressure readings that are within the healthy range. If you can keep up with your trampolining for a good twenty to thirty minutes you will get these cardiovascular benefits and also help to enhance fat loss as well.  It is a very calorie demanding activity if you are continually jumping up and down and you can almost burn as much as you would if you were skipping.

Bone Strengthening Benefits
Maintaining strong bones is also an essential element for promoting good health and being able to stay active for many years to come and trampolining will also help you accomplish this task. Any weight bearing activity is often regarded as bone strengthening and since each and every time you jump up and down on that trampoline you will be bearing your weight, it is just as effective as running would be.
If you are bouncing on a smaller rebounder rather than a larger scale trampoline you will see greater benefits with regards to bone strength since the number of impacts per minute will be higher.

Enhanced Coordination and Motor Skills
Finally, the last benefit that you’ll see from participating in a regular trampolining routine is improved coordination and motor skills.  Being able to effectively control the body as it moves through space especially at the accelerated rate that it will be after coming off the rebounder takes a lot of coordination.  Then you must also prepare the body for landing and ensure that you maintain proper form to rebound up again. This improvement in balance and coordination can transfer over to any other recreational activities or sports you might perform improving your overall performance there.

So if you’re looking for a change of pace with your usual workouts, why not consider trampolining? You can purchase small rebounders at a very cost effective price and you may even want to check your gym or a local gymnastics facility for adult rebounding glasses. It’s a great way to get out, try a new activity, and get more fit in the process.

Kristen Suzanne’s note: It’s recommended that you check with a physician before embarking on any new physical fitness routine.

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Monday, March 8th, 2010

Winner of my 20th Awesome Giveaway – Free Raw Vegan Cleanse

by Kristen Suzanne in Uncategorized

Congratulations Kate & Ann! Your names were chosen as the winners of my 20th Awesome Giveaway. The prize: A RAW Cleanse from Garden of Life for each of you. Simply email me with your address so I can get the awesome prize sent to you.

When asked, “In which activity would you like a lesson from an expert?”

Here is what Kate had to say…

I would like a lesson in compassion and enlightenment from a real expert.

Also, a lesson from a dentist who specializes in amalgam filling removal…a lesson how to properly detox after.

Here is what Ann had to say…

I would LOVE to learn how to rock climb and snow board… I think I’d probably want an expert to teach me!

My next Awesome Giveaway is soon, so check back for details!

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Friday, March 5th, 2010

High Raw, All Vegan Food Intake – Pregnancy Food Journal

by Kristen Suzanne in Uncategorized

My food intake for Thursday!

  • 1/2 Crunchy Buckwheat Biscuit (pic to right)
  • 1 cup-ish raw granola from Kaia Foods
  • 1/4 trail mix (Kaia Foods Garlic Salt Sprouted Sunflower Seeds along with raisins and goji berries)
  • Huge organic salad (romaine, avocado, orange bell pepper, lemon juice, Himalayan crystal salt, black pepper)
  • Crunchy Buckwheat Biscuit
  • 2 Mesquite-n-Protein Chocolates
  • 3 cups fresh organic green juice made with my Hurom Juicer (veganic tomatoes, kale, cucumbers, garlic, lemon)

And…. for dinner? Salads, MEXICAN PIZZA (cooked vegan), Raw Vegan Pumpkin Pie

  • Huge organic salad (same as above)
  • I took a flat bread type crust from Whole Foods and warmed it up. Then, I topped it with black bean vegan chili, salsa, avocado, and Daiya cheese. Put it under the broiler to melt the cheese a bit and voila! My husband was looking forward to this all week! It did not disappoint. 
  • We split a piece of Raw Vegan Pumpkin Pie from my EASY Raw Vegan Holidays book – Yum! (I made the pie around Thanksgiving time and froze individual slices so I could easily take a piece out to thaw, like I did today.
  • 2 Mesquite-n-Protein Chocolates (OOPS! After this second serving of raw chocolate, I realized I overdid it a bit with the chocolate and I was buzzed up all night. I took a fast paced walk and banged out a bunch of work)
  • Brown Rice Protein Shake (certified organic) from Sprout Living (they sent me samples to review and I’m quite pleased. I suspect they’ll give Sun Warrior a run for their money seeing as Sprout Living is “certified organic” while SunWarrior is only non-gmo)

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Sunday, February 21st, 2010

Review: Green Mush For Pets

by Kristen Suzanne in Uncategorized

I was sent a bottle of Green Mush™by Health Force Nutritionals for my dog. I decided to test it out on 4 dogs (3 were my mom’s and 1 was mine). It’s basically a green powder loaded with nutrients that helps keep your pets healthy. According to Health Force Nutritional’s website…

Green Mush™ is a pesticide free, whole food, green plant based combination. It is completely unlike traditional multi-vitamin/mineral products in that it is truly effective, totally non-toxic and exceptionally absorbent with no toxicity (not excreted as expensive yellow urine or settled out in the tissues as toxic deposits). There are absolutely no synthetics or isolated nutrients whatsoever in Green Mush™! The nutrients are exactly as they occur naturally in whole plant foods.

My first attempt in getting them to try it was in a dish of organic soy yogurt.

Only 1 dog seemed to like it and another dog (mine) made an attempt to like it, but didn’t finish it. The other 2 dogs wouldn’t have anything to do with it and looked at me like I was crazy. I thought yogurt would be a good idea because I was pretty confident I’d have to hide it somewhat. I used the recommended amount of Green Mush™, but I think it was probably too much for their taste buds.

The next attempt was sprinkling much less of it onto their main meal. They all seemed to gobble up their food as usual and didn’t mind the Green Mush™ being in there. Even though it’s a small amount, over time it has to be better than nothing, right? I sure love the idea of getting some of this into my dog’s diet, which is pretty healthy anyway (he eats mostly homemade organic vegan food) and only on rare occasions does he eat organic vegetarian dry dog food. There are a few days here and there (not very often) when I feed him raw, organic grass fed meat and an occasional bone. I’m a vegan at heart and although my vet supports my dog eating a vegan diet, there is a tiny part of me that recognizes if he were in the wild, he wouldn’t be loving up the roots and tubers, and would more likely go for meat. Still, because my vet supports our vegan lifestyle, he eats that way 90-99% of the time.

He’s not a fan of raw veggies like I hear about some dogs loving. I sure wish he were! Some examples of foods I make for him (all organic):

  • Tofu or meat substitutes sprinkled with hemp seeds
  • Soy or coconut yogurt with hemp seeds, hemp powder and/or hemp oil
  • Pasta with marinara (update 5/4/10 – tomatoes aren’t looking like a nutritious option for dogs, so I’m scratching that from the diet)
  • Black beans, lentils, quinoa (or other grain-type foods) mixed with some nuts, seeds, veggies, etc
  • Veggie burgers
  • Baked potato with a little Himalayan crystal salt and a little organic soy butter
  • Peanut Butter (or almond butter) and jelly on sprouted whole grain toast
  • Some days I hide juice pulp in his food
  • Whole grain cereal with rice milk
  • Oatmeal with maple syrup, nuts, and rice milk
  • And, on days that I make cooked vegan food for my husband and myself, I make him a plate

I’m not sure what the overall verdict is for Green Mush™ because we only just started using it, but I have to believe that it’s a good thing and I’m glad he’s getting it in his diet!

*I’ll note that my dog is great and healthy with this diet, but I’m not a vet so I’m not prescribing that you feed your doggies or pet friends the same way. Please check with a vet before changing your pet’s diet. For example, some dogs might not handle almonds well, but the few occasions mine has all natural, raw, organic almond butter, he is fine.
Update: For those of you caring individuals who get your panties in a bunch are concerned because of what I feed my dog: 1) I have had the support of 3 different vets, 2) there are many thriving vegan dogs from my research – heck, the Humane Society of the United States just came out with a plant-based organic dog food, 3) his health is amazing, 4) as you can see from my post, he is not 100% vegan (I guess he’s technically a flexitarian). He does get meat in his diet, it’s just not usually his staple. I’ve done the all raw meat thing for him in the past and he doesn’t thrive like he does with this diet, so go figure. 

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Thursday, February 18th, 2010

My Toothache While Pregnant

by Kristen Suzanne in Uncategorized

Ouch! During Valentine’s Day weekend, I came down with a toothache. It’s been intermittent pain so I do have plenty of relief through the days, but for about 2-3 times a day, 1-2 hours each of those times, it hurts to bite down on the left side of my mouth. I was not excited about this because going to the dentist as a pregnant woman is right up there with going to an emergency room. They’re just not places that I want to be.

When the pain first started, I figured I’d kind of ignore it as long as I could. It wasn’t debilitating, just annoying and a little painful when I bite. However, in passing, I let my midwife know and she was actually concerned. She said it could mean infection, and that could be harmful for the baby. Sh*t. Well, since it was the weekend when it started, I couldn’t see my dentist. So to help ease the pain, she taught me a little acupressure trick for pressing on a certain spot on my jaw. It worked to temporarily relieve the pain. :) I explained my concerns of going to the dentist while pregnant, and she relaxed my fears of potentially having to get an x-ray as she described to me the kind of equipment I’d want to make sure my dentist was using (digital) and to have him double up the cover-thing on me. Furthermore, according to a doctor I know, these x-rays (and being properly covered up), is less radiation than taking an airplane flight. As for my concern of having novacaine, I was told that there is a formulation for pregnant women that doesn’t have epiniphrine in it. Frankly, that doesn’t make me feel much better… I don’t want any drugs if I can help it. Hhmmm… I wonder if I can Hypnobirth my way through any potential dental work – nervously lol.

When Monday rolled around, I dragged myself to the dentist to get more information. Turns out that I have already had a root canal in that tooth and his initial diagnosis was that it was an abscessed tooth. Double Sh*t! He needed an x-ray to verify it, but I was still leery about getting one. My research about x-rays also said that it’s better to wait until later in the pregnancy for them if possible, third trimester being the safest. After a lengthy discussion he said that since the pain only just started a few days prior, and that because it wasn’t hurting that much… I could wait a bit and see if it gets worse, or if in the small case that it’s not an abscess, perhaps it’ll go away on its own. (There was talk about whether I was grinding my teeth which could cause the pain. Very unlikely that I’m a teeth grinder though.)  The consensus was that if it was indeed abscessed, it could be dangerous based on the level of the infection, but that I could take some time to think about how I want to proceed and see if it gets better or worse over the following week or two.

So, I went home and started a few natural remedies. For the next few days I swished 3 times a day with warmed Himalayan crystal salt water in my mouth. 

Then, I swished with 3% food grade hydrogen peroxide (I buy the strong concentration – about 35% – and then dilute it in a 1:11 ratio of 1 part peroxide to 11 parts water). I did this about 3 times a day, too.

I also did two other things: took extra probiotics and extra wheat grass tablets.

Good news so far! On Tuesday I only had mild discomfort in the morning when waking, which went away after a couple of hours. On Wednesday the only teeny tiny amount of sensation I felt was for about 30 minutes after I woke up from my mid-day nap. And, today, I’m pain free still. Even though I’m sure I don’t grind my teeth, I am consistently sleeping on my left side, which is recommended for pregnant women. I wonder if this is increasing the pressure on that side of my jaw which is where the tooth problem is.

Update: I’ve been asked a number of times about the toothpaste that I use. Traditionally, I don’t stick with any one, but there are a few things that I rotate. 

1) Miessence

This was sent to me to sample a couple of weeks back and I LOVE it. I have both the lemon and the mint flavors and, right now, it’s my favorite toothpaste. It’s very simple in flavor and experience, and you can sense the baking soda in it which some people might not like as much, but there is just something about it that I LOOOOVE! It’s not cheap, but I plan on buying more when I run out. You can check out the details here


There are a few flavors (citrus, mint, and I think anise?) that Jason puts out which are: Fluoride Free, with baking soda, and known as their premium toothpaste. The one I use is Spearmint with Baking Soda Premium Toothpaste (that’s the actual title) and I buy it at Whole Foods. It seems quite inoffensive regarding ingredients. I was using this more often before I received the Miessence samples, but plan on using the Miessence more now. The weird thing is that even on Jason’s website, I don’t see this particular variety listed. 

3) Baking Soda
Sometimes I brush with plain ol’ baking soda.

4) 3% Food Grade Hydrogen Peroxide
Sometimes I gently brush with just this by itself. I think I read somewhere years ago that if you have mercury amalgams you shouldn’t use this… so you might want to check that out if you’re interested in using this for your teeth.

5) Baking Soda with 3% Food Grade Hydrogen Peroxide Paste
Sometimes I make a little paste out of these two and use it to brush my teeth.

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Tuesday, January 26th, 2010

Raw Vegan Recipe: Zippy Energy Soup

by Kristen Suzanne in Uncategorized

Here is a wonderfully simple… bursting with fresh and gentle flavors… delicious zippy punch… Raw Vegan Soup! This recipe is filled with superior nutrition including fiber, antioxidants, minerals, and vitamins. For example, there’s avocado which is not only rich in texture, but also rich in nutrients. It’s filled with a whopping 9 grams of dietary fiber (sometimes more!), plus B-vitamins, including folic acid – making this an excellent choice for pregnant ladies.

Zippy Energy Soup
By Kristen Suzanne of
Yield 3 cups

2/3 cup water
1/3 cup fresh orange juice
2 cups kale
1 cup celery, chopped
1 cup romaine lettuce, chopped
1 cup red bell pepper, chopped
1/2 avocado pitted and peeled
1 tablespoon Garlic Red Pepper Miso*
1 teaspoon fresh orange zest
3/4 – 1 teaspoon wasabi powder

Blend everything together until creamy and enjoy a zippy day!

* South River Miso is the BEST miso on the planet. It’s organic and they even offer soy-free varieties, like the one used in this soup. You can substitute with any flavor miso, but Garlic Red Pepper is so very much especially nice. Last year I bought a mixture of about 10 jars of their various miso from them. They basically last forever so I stock up and take advantage of their 10% discount on orders $100 or more.

For more delicious Raw Vegan soup recipes, check out my book (ebook is also available), Kristen Suzanne’s EASY Raw Vegan Soup Recipes.

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Saturday, January 23rd, 2010

Winner of My 17th Awesome Giveaway – Raw D3 Vitamins!

by Kristen Suzanne in Uncategorized
Congratulations Sara! Your name was chosen as the winner of my 17th Awesome Giveaway. The prize: A bottle of Garden of Life / Vitamin Code’s Raw D3. Simply email me with your address so I can get the vitamins sent to you.

Here is what Sara had to say when asked, “What is one of your New Year’s Resolutions / Goals that you’re still sticking with today?”

Mine is simple….to eat way healthier with my daughter. My daughter who is in high school has started a blog about the benefits of eating organic and cutting back on processed food. It has been a huge hit and she has even been written about in her school newspaper:) We are both trying out new recipes and new foods.

My next Awesome Giveaway is January 31, so check back for details!

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Monday, January 4th, 2010

Meet My Rockin’ Midwife & Why I’m Choosing a Home Birth

by Kristen Suzanne in Uncategorized

Today, I’m introducing you to the midwife who will be in attendance at my home birth. Her name is Shell Walker (here’s her website, which is under construction right now, but still has some information on it), and let me just start by saying that she is so great. She’s sweet, smart, capable, experienced, responsive, cool, and a perfect fit for my needs.

Midwives have been attending home births for a long, long time. In fact, a majority of births in many parts of the world use midwives and home births for the norm as opposed to hospital births, unlike our country which relies on hospitals. I recognize that hospitals can have their place in some births and they can very much be needed at times, but for the most part… a healthy woman can birth successfully in the comfort of her home, and in some cases have better outcomes than if she went to the hospital. Here is an article detailing a Canadian study discussing the safety of home births with midwives.

I find that when I tell people I’m planning to birth at home, I get looks of either shock or disbelief. Then, I find myself rattling off statistics supporting my choice… one of which is that the United States has some of the highest infant and maternal mortality rates in the developed world. One of the highest! Furthermore, our C-section rates continue to climb at an alarming rate, accounting for almost a third of all our deliveries. That’s double what the World Health Organization says is safe for moms and babies. What is going on with our culture and the views of childbirth?

But, you know what? The bottom line is that I feel a home birth is the best thing for me to do. I am excited beyond belief to bring our baby into this world gently and softly. I have total confidence in my body and my baby to do something that we women have been doing since the beginning of time. It’s natural. It’s wonderful. And, the pain we often see reflected from TV or from women birthing in hospitals isn’t an accurate portrayal of what can happen with a home birth. There might be pain, there might not be much pain. I don’t mind either way. I’m confident that if there is pain, it’s not the kind of pain we see exhibited on TV shows or the stories we hear about from women with hospital experiences. One of the reasons for this is simply because stress prolongs labor and a home birthing mom can avoid all kinds of stressors, such as an unfamiliar, uncomfortable environment, harsh lights, cold hands, poking and prodding from total strangers when personnel change shifts… not to mention the potential snarky remark from a nurse or doctor who doesn’t share my values or concerns (I hear about this from your emails all the time!). The home birthing mother can change positions when she’s in labor, she can walk around, she can take a bath (lounging, or even giving labor in water), she can dance, she can sing, she can eat and drink, she can wear her own clothes (or no clothes at all), she can have music playing softly with candles lit and the lights dim (or heck, she can have Nine Inch Nails playing in the background if she wants), she can have her doula or birth partner use various ways to help relieve pain such as acupressure, massage, etc. The mom is empowered, and that alone can make a huge difference in the experience.

The list goes on and on for ways that a home birth can be so much easier in the pain department versus a hospital birth. In fact, check this out… from Ricki Lake’s book, Your Best Birth, Ricki writes, “… when you’re in labor and they lay you on the hospital bed with your feet in the stirrups, the way 67 percent of American women give birth, they’re actually slowing your labor down. Lying on your back closes the pelvis by 25 to 30 percent, and in that position gravity no longer works in your favor.” Unfortunately, I’ve also read that this is the best position for the doctor. Hmmm. Not the best for mom and baby, but the best for the doctor. Nice (I write that word with dripping sarcasm). Well, one way to change that is to have more healthy women birthing at home where it’s “mama-led” not doctor-led.

The more I’ve learned, the more I’m glad that I researched all of this and became enlightened early on regarding hospital births vs. home births. I suspect that if more women did, they’d lean toward home birthing, too. Once you hear the statistics and stories, and get your team lined up, the alternative (hospitals) starts sounding like the scarier option. It did to me, anyway. Remember, birthing in hospitals is a very new thing. “Traditional,” by any reasonable definition, refers to the thousands-year-old history of modern humans birthing at home.

But I digress… I could go on and on about the topic of just home birth, but the real point of this blog post is to introduce you to my awesome midwife. If you’d like more information regarding natural childbirth, home birth, or the choices you have even if you choose a hospital birth, then I recommend the following reading and watching (there are many others but this is a good place to start):

Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth
Sarah Buckley’s Gentle Birth, Gentle Mothering
Ricki Lake’s Your Best Birth
Ricki Lake’s documentary The Business of Being Born
Check out Ricki Lake’s great online community My Best Birth and check out Cindy Crawford’s videos where she discusses her home birth.

And, here’s a quick video of some celebrities who have home birthed.

So, back to the story of my midwife. Well. Here is what happened. When my husband and I decided to start trying to conceive, I felt that the best time to find a midwife was sooner rather than later (same goes for finding a doula, but that’s a post for another day).

I didn’t want an enormous list of things to do when I was pregnant, so I thought I’d start researching midwives and home birthing options before conceiving. I started by Googling midwives in my area. I immediately found one who looked promising. My husband and I interviewed her and we liked her well enough. She seemed very nice, competent, and experienced. So we decided to go with her and not interview anyone else.

Over time, we found that we had a hard time trying to conceive. And, during that time, I found myself emailing the midwife to get answers to various questions I had. Now, I want to say that this midwife was very sweet. And, I suspect she’s a great fit for many women. However, I found through our experience that my instinct was telling me perhaps she wasn’t a perfect fit for me. I had a lot of questions, more than most women (so I’ve been told… haha) and I started to sense that my high maintenance might not be the best fit for this particular midwife. After a while, I started to question whether we should have interviewed other midwives.

In contrast, when I interviewed my doula (the mother’s helper and advocate during the birthing) I fell in love with her immediately and just “knew” instinctively she was the one for me. This showed me how I should have felt when I met my midwife, you know, when you just “click” with someone. There is no reason to settle for anything other than a perfect synergy when it comes to choosing a birth team. So I started asking for recommendations for alternative midwives, and that is how I found Shell. This time, when we interviewed Shell, I had a great feeling like I did when I met my doula. And, as I communicated with her via email and phone during the following weeks, I was ecstatic to have found “the one.” Ahhh…. I had the most amazing birth team picked. I felt complete peace. I was so excited!

When I originally interviewed Shell, I was pregnant with our first pregnancy at about 5 weeks. We lost that pregnancy shortly after, but Shell was there for me every step of the way, touching my soul and helping me through the process. When I became pregnant the second time (my current pregnancy), she continued her amazing care for me.

We’ve had a couple of pre-natal visits and they are so fun! I actually get bummed that I have to wait a month between them to see her. Both my husband and I go, and the first two visits both lasted for about 2 hours each. I don’t know how prenatal visits are with most ob/gyns, but I suspect they’re not that long. (Please describe your experiences in the comments.)

That’s a picture of Shell showing me my uterus. Midwives tend to be extremely thorough, relaxed, and there is no hurry with them. Shell cares not only for me and the life growing inside of me, but she cares for my husband and takes the time to talk with him, too.

Shell supports my diet and lifestyle – gotta love that. She trusts that I’m getting adequate nutrition and she’s always there to answer my questions when I have them. We chat via email, text message, and/or facebook a couple of times a week. She doesn’t mind all of my questions!!!

During my first visit, Shell drew my blood and did a urine analysis. Both tests came back with excellent results. Yay! And during our second visit, my urine analysis came back great again (apparently I’m very hydrated). My urine was more alkaline this time, most likely from my very alkaline diet. Shell also rubbed my feet and head to further relax me – so nice. Midwives rock. (Do ob/gyns rub feet? Just sayin’. Haha.)

I’m extremely grateful to have found a such great fit with Shell. I can go into my child birth with a relaxed heart and mind, knowing that she is there for me. Having a midwife and pursuing a home birth is what feels right for me. It might not be right for everyone, but I hope that more women will look at all options thoroughly before deciding. And, for women who want to go the hospital-ob/gyn route, I hope you’ll research the options, write a solid birth plan, and challenge your doctor to support a more gentle birthing experience. Stand up for your rights, and choose a doctor that gives you more support and control with birthing issues by giving all the right information, at the right time, to help you make informed decisions. The more we speak up, the better. Remember, there is no better advocate for your baby and your health, than yourself.

I’d also like to add that I feel grateful for the support of my husband and mom in my desire to home birth. I’ve received some emails from women who want to pursue this route but their families don’t support it. My recommendation is to get the materials recommended above and read the books together with your partner. In fact, if you can read in the car without getting car sick (my husband tells me this strange ability of mine is a bona fide superpower), then read the book to your husband (or partner) while he’s driving or at night before bed. It’s important information that might help educate him in understanding why you want a home birth. I also highly recommend getting a hold of (gotta love Netflix!) Ricki Lake’s DVD documentary, The Business of Being Born (or buy it on Amazon). Watch this with your birthing partner. Lend it to your family to watch. It’s quite eye-opening and can help get the dialogue going. And, finally, take the time to watch some videos on YouTube of home birthing, hypnobirthing, water birthing, etc. They not only paint a picture of real options you may not have known existed, but they are also truly inspiring.

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