Tuesday, January 12th, 2010

HypnoBirthing Session One – Recap

by Kristen Suzanne in fertility

I know my blog is primarily Raw food centered, but the raw lifestyle can reach into so many other areas of life that are natural, beautiful, eco friendly, etc. It all fits, if you ask me. I also have many women writing to me that they are glad I’m sharing my personal journey with fertility and pregnancy, the things I’m experiencing, the things I’m learning. So, with that introduction…


On Sunday, we attended our first HypnoBirthing session in preparation for our future homebirth. HypnoBirthing is a special alternative to the traditional Lamaze and Bradley classes that many folks take. HypnoBirthing might sound a little “out there” to some, but it’s been pretty amazing so far. The basic premise of HypnoBirthing, according to HypnoBirthing.com, is that it’s a unique method of relaxed, natural childbirth education enhanced by self-hypnosis techniques. Sounds good to me. :)

Even though we’ve only had one session, my take is that it’s basically getting into a meditative, relaxed state during child birth, which can help the mom to better cope with it. I saw a few videos on YouTube and most women usually look like they’re having a nice, relaxed birth. In a number of cases, you wouldn’t even know they’re experiencing child birth. That probably sounds crazy to some people. On the other hand, there are some people who went through HypnoBirthing classes only to find that they couldn’t really use the techniques when it came to birthing time. I learned that one important thing is practice, practice, practice. The more I practice the HypnoBirthing techniques, the better my chances are that HypnoBirthing will be an awesome experience for me. Ongoing, daily listening of the cds is important, as well as reading the HypnoBirthing book about 4 times, attending all classes, and practicing breathing. There is more to it but I’m not that far into the course to describe it.

I read the HypnoBirthing book before I got pregnant, and I’ve been listening to the hypnobirthing relaxation and affirmation cds for many months now. They were instrumental in helping me relax for our fertility adventure with Mini-IVF. As far as I was concerned, this wasn’t going to be just a tool for birthing, I was eager to implement these elements to my whole life.


Our session on Sunday focused on a few things.

1) Language – there is a preferred HypnoBirthing language that should be used. For example: We say “surge” instead of contraction. We say “birth companion” instead of coach (for the husband or partner). We say “birthing time/month” instead of due date. We say “birth breathing” instead of pushing. We say “pressure/sensation/tightening” instead of pain or contractions. Personally, I really like the suggested words. I feel much more relaxed saying the word “surge or pressure” instead of contraction or pain. The HypnoBirthing language relaxes me and the medicalized language tenses me. The next step will be teaching this to the grandmas who will probably attend the homebirth.

2) “Emergency Room” vs “Healing Room” – These are not actual rooms, but rather they are states of mind. In life we should strive to only be in the emergency (stressed, high alert, tense) state about 2-5% of our lives at the most, during those rare instances that legitimately require a fight or flight response such as emergencies, etc. The rest of our time should be enjoying the healing room. :) Most likely, we all spend more than 2-5% in the emergency room, but being aware of this and making a concerted effort to increase the time in the healing room is a good start. When we’re in the healing room, our breathing is deep and relaxed, our digestive system is relaxed and running efficiently, and we feel good. When we’re in the emergency room, we’re tense, on alert, breathing is more labored, digestion is put on hold, etc.

This becomes important during child birth because if a woman is in the emergency room state of mind during this time, her cervix can tighten up, thereby making birthing more difficult and increasing the chances of “special circumstances.” (That’s more HypnoBirthing language… we say “special circumstances” instead of complications. Isn’t that much nicer? I think any mom who plans a home birth and ends up having to go to the hospital will be in a much softer state of mind if she considers it due to special circumstances, rather than complications.)

3) Limp Lucy (Mom) and Gorilla (Dad) – Our HypnoBirthing instructor, Sherry Gilbert, had two little stuffed animals that she used to represent the birthing parents. Mine was Limp Lucy, which was a soft white bear that had really limp and loose arms and legs. All I could think about when I saw her was, “Ahhhhh…” Limp Lucy is totally relaxed and demonstrates the state in which I should strive for child birth, and how I should feel and look when doing my Calming Breathing. Heck, I want to be Limp Lucy all the time. The birth companion, on the other hand, is a protective gorilla. Need I say more? My husband found this image from the following article and he forwarded it to me with the following caption: Picture of me at homebirth when pizza guy comes to the door (my husband also noted that he is the gorilla on the left, pizza guy on the right – lol).

4) Surrounding myself with positive birthing stories
Our HypnoBirthing instructor gave us each one of these pins. I love it! She explained the importance of hearing positive birthing stories… and how it can do more harm than good when people share their birthing horror stories. She said that as I grow in size and my pregnancy becomes more obvious, I might be surprised how some strangers will feel compelled to share their “not so great” stories, and by wearing this pin I might be able to shield myself from that.

My HypnoBirthing homework for the week:
1) Go to the “healing room” daily
2) Listen to rainbow relaxation track on the HypnoBirthing cd once a day
3) Listen to affirmation track on the HypnoBirthing cd once a day
4) Practice my “Calming Breathing” 5X/day
5) My husband and I are to each visualize the home birth independently. Then, we need to discuss it and compare visualizations. That will be fun!

Here are some neat statistics about homebirthing experiences.
Here is a good article on WebMD, Hypnosis in the Delivery Room

And… here is a quick video showing HypnoBirthing in action. I noticed when they edited the video, they actually used the word “contraction” – oops!

Have any of you used HypnoBirthing? What did you think?

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Sunday, January 10th, 2010

Raw Vegan Recipe: Soft n’ Savory Hemp Onion Bread

Yay! It’s recipe time! In today’s video, I’m showing you how to make an EASY yummy bread recipe, Soft n’ Savory Hemp Onion Bread. If you’re a fan of savory onions, then you’ll be one happy camper with a slice of this! Soft n’ Savory Hemp Onion Bread is delicious, pretty, and filled with nutrition… essential fatty acids, protein, antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Essential fatty acids are necessary fats that we basically cannot synthesize on our own, so we have to get them from our diet. Enter: hemp and chia! Not only that, but hemp foods are an excellent source of complete vegetarian protein. Personally, I consider hemp foods as superfoods because they are loaded with important nutrients and they make me feel great. As a pregnant gal, I’ve been upping my intake of them – great for my growing baby. So… back to the bread… It’s perfect for snacking on by itself, dipping in Raw hummus, and spreading with Raw hemp seed butter or guacamole. Depending on the size you cut, you can also use it as a nutrient rich bread for hearty Raw sandwiches. As I’m typing this post, it’s dehydrating in the kitchen and it smells soooooooo awesome!


In this video, I feature a few different kitchen tools, ingredients, and appliances. You can get your hot little hands on them buy purchasing from these links…

Kristen Suzanne’s Ultimate Raw Vegan Hemp Recipes
MAC Knife
Onion Goggles
Offset Spatula
Excalibur Dehydrator
Chia Seeds
Hemp Seeds
Hemp Protein Powder

Soft n’ Savory Hemp Onion Bread
Recipe by Kristen Suzanne of KristensRaw.com
Yield approximately 20 – 32 pieces (depending on size you cut)

3/4 cup hemp seeds (lightly ground)
3/4 cup chia seeds
3 pounds red onions, chopped
2 medium tomatoes, chopped
1 cup spinach, packed
1/3 cup raw agave nectar
1/3 cup tamari, wheat-free
1/4 cup hemp protein powder

Place the ground hemp seeds and whole chia seeds in a large bowl and set aside. Process the onions, tomatoes and spinach in a food processor, fitted with the “S” blade, into small pieces – don’t let it get too mushy though. One thing that might help is to do this processing in two halves (half each of the onions, tomatoes, spinach in one processing, then do it with the other half) so that you can keep it a little on the chunkier side. If you process it too long, it can get too wet (as you’ll see in the video, I should’ve done mine in two processing batches, but I shoved it all in one – lol).

Add the onion mixture and the remaining ingredients to the bowl of seeds and stir well to mix. Let the batter sit for up to 5 minutes. If you find that the batter is too “wet” then add more chia seeds to soak it up (1 – 2 tablespoons at a time and wait a few minutes).

Use approximately 4 cups per tray and spread the batter onto 2 dehydrator trays, each lined with a Paraflexx sheet. Dehydrate at 130 – 140 degrees for one hour. You can score the bread into the desired size at this time, or you can wait to cut it after it’s done dehydrating.

Lower the temperature to 105 degrees and dehydrate another 8 hours. Flip the bread over onto another dehydrator tray and peel off the Paraflexx sheet. Dehydrate another 6 – 10 hours (until you reach your desired dryness – I like mine a little moist). Cut into 16 squares per tray. These are best stored in the refrigerator.


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Friday, January 8th, 2010

Beauty Products I Use (Eco and Animal Friendly) – Environmental Working Group ROCKS!

by Kristen Suzanne in beauty, body care, eco friendly

OK! Beauty stuff! Better yet… Eco & Animal Friendly Beauty stuff! I’m a true girly girl at heart. I love makeup and beauty goodies. It all started back when my mom let me wear purple eyeshadow to school when I was about 12 years old. I was hooked. When I was growing up, you could stick me in a makeup department for hours and I was happy as heck. However, these days there aren’t many makeup departments that make my list though. Too bad there weren’t great healthy products back then! Now that I’m aware of the toxins present in most beauty products which not only harm animals with testing, but that are also destroying our environment, I’ve become uber selective with what touches my face, hair and body.

Before we begin with some companies that I enjoy, I want to introduce you to Skin Deep – Campaign For Safe Cosmetics, the amazing website put forth by the Environmental Working Group. This site is instrumental in helping me find the healthiest and least toxic beauty products. You can search the database by entering the names of various companies (although not every one of them is in there) or by searching specific ingredients (helpful when companies aren’t listed). I’m seriously grateful for this website. I look forward to the time when more and more companies are added. The EWG does so much work in helping people learn about the various toxins in products and our environment. For example, check this page out for useful health tips. (BTW – They are always in need of monetary donations to help further their work if that’s something you’re interested in, go here.)

Check out these eye opening videos of some of their work…



The Beauty Products I Use

I strive to make my makeup, skin, hair, and overall body care as pure as possible, eco-friendly, cruelty-free, all natural, and non-toxic. The following companies are some of the brands that I use and recommend. I do not list every green or vegan company out there, as I’ve not tried them all. Furthermore, not all of the companies I listed here are vegan (although most offer vegan products – be sure to check specific products if that’s important to you). Some offer vegetarian products that use honey or beeswax, but I don’t purchase those. However, even if they offer vegetarian products, they are animal friendly in testing and eco friendly in ingredients, packaging, etc. There are also some companies that I’ve tried and not had much success. I talk a bit about those, too.

A note about mineral based products.Minerals are pretty much the rage and have been for a few years now. I do have some myself, but I read this blog post from EWG recently which I found intriguing: Is Mineral Based Makeup Safer?


Terressentials

I’ve tried many things from this company: mud shampoo, face cleanser, body cleanser, face toner, hand soap (the citrus smells divine!), intensive shea butter moisturizer (great stuff), and deodorant (it’s the best natural deodorant on the market in my opinion – love it, although most days I don’t use deodorant – a perk of clean eating! – but I admit there is a day here and there, maybe from hormones, where I like a little help and this is what I turn to). I’m partial to their fragrance-free options because I try to avoid products with essential oils while pregnant. I was a fan of their mud shampoo, but then my scalp started flaking. I’m now using Morrocco Method’s hair care line (detailed below). Terressentials’ products are hand-crafted, USDA Certified Organic, and they are truly 100% Natural. I will most likely try some of their baby line, too, when the time comes. (See Nature’s Paradise link below for another great baby option.)

Morrocco Method

I’ve been using Morrocco Method’s products on my hair for almost a year. The awesome thing about their products is that they’re organic, vegan, gluten-free, and even Raw! I’d go into more detail about why I’m a big fan, but I already have herealso read the comments section in that link because the owner, Anthony Morrocco, dropped by to chime in. He addressed some readers’ questions – gotta love that level of commitment and accessibility, it counts for a lot in my book.

I’m a paying customer of theirs, but recently they sent me a review package including some of their groovy elixirs to use on my scalp and hair. I love them. My husband and I have marveled at the rate of my hair growth. Some say that the pregnancy is contributing to that, but I’ve been using Morrocco Method products for some time now, well before I became pregnant. They also sent me their Agave Mist Styling Spritz to try. The only thing I’m not crazy about is the spray bottle… the sprayer thing itself shoots out a spray that is not “mist like” which makes it a little hard to use. I’ve bought and tried their Feng Shea Facial Scrub which is a nice exfoliator.

They have released a new conditioner, Pearl Essence Cream Rinse, which I’m eager to get my hands on. And, they have an interesting Lunar Hair Chart for the best days to cut and beautify hair each month.

Pristine Beauty (updated 2/28/12)

Read my recent raving review here about the “butta” and their other products. I’ve been using their face cream, hair products, and more.

Raw Gaia

This is a lovely company with terrific products. Raw Gaia has beautiful, living skin care products created from cold-pressed, organic and vegan ingredients, infused with essential oils and floral waters of the finest quality. I thought I’d have to miss out on playing with their products for the most part because the company is based in the UK, and it wouldn’t be very environmentally responsible of me to have stuff shipped here frequently. However, it appears from their website that some online stores in the United States carry their products. That is helpful because those online retailers probably buy in bulk, but it’s still better to buy as locally as possible. Regardless, I like this company and wanted to showcase them. Plus, I have some European readers, so this is a great company for them to try.

Zosimos BotanicalsZosimos Botanicals is an excellent company. I use their loose powder mineral foundation. One of the best aspects about this company is the customer service. I know that when I turn friends on to them, they’ll get treated well. And, what’s more… they’re an environmentally conscious company. They handcraft their own line of natural products in a 100% wind-powered workshop. Cool!Coastal Classic CreationsI have a lot of fun on this website. They make a nice blush (Stargazer), as well as some eye shadows (I use these for liner and shadow, but honestly, I’m not crazy about loose powders for shadows so I don’t use these as often anymore). Try their sample sizes to experiment with colors first – as they can be a little different than what you might expect. They have a vegan mascara that I haven’t tried yet, but plan on doing soon. Coastal Classic Creations continues to get excellent ratings in the Skin Deep database I mentioned earlier. In my dealings with them, this is another company with terrific customer service.

Want to pretty up your face and body with organic fruit and veggie extracts? Then check out 100% Pure, which definitely has a spot in my heart. I’m a fan of many of their products – they smell amazing, and why wouldn’t they? They’re mostly made from fruit and veggie extracts and other awesome smelling natural ingredients. I stick with the products of theirs that are vegan and I’ve been very happy with them. It seems like they’re continuously offering new colors, which is nice to see. When I first started with their products, I noticed they were heavier with the pinks than with the peaches (I prefer the peaches).
Some of my favorite picks from 100% Pure are: hand lotions (vanilla is true heaven), cleansing foams (my skin is left feeling clean, not stripped), coffee bean eye cream, pineapple enzyme face mask (this stuff is fun), rose facial mist (total aromatherapy relaxation in every sprtiz), body butters, powder blush (I apply a couple of layers to get the color I want), and the vegan lip options. I also love their compact powder, Healthy Flawless Skin Foundation Powder. You’ll notice that the description on their website says it’s vegetarian, but there are only vegan ingredients. I called to confirm and I was right… it’s vegan.
A unique aspect about 100% Pure’s products is that they pretty much do not contain minerals (except where she uses mica for a shimmer effect), because the owner, Susie Wang believes that fruit and veggie extracts are the best option for your skin.
This company makes one of the best USDA certified organic shampoo/soap options for babies. They offer products for the whole family, too. I’ve only bought the baby shampoo (I used it on my face and body), but many of their other products look promising and I plan on trying some.

El Milagro Herbs

I wrote about this company in a blog post here (there’s a video, too). It’s a great little company from Santa Fe. They are working on some “raw” products – yay! Just like I enjoy getting to know the people who grow my food from the farmers’ market, I love the idea that I shook hands personally with the man crafting such fine products for my face and body.

UPDATED (May 2010) WITH THREE NEW REVIEWS:

Dr. Alkaitis (my favorite) – Click the link for a thorough review

Miessence – Click the link for a thorough review

Sprout Wellness – Click the link for a thorough review

Natural Food Products From My Pantry

There are a couple of products that I regularly use straight from my kitchen. Most notably they are rose water, orange blossom water, and coconut oil. You can find rose water and orange blossom water at most Middle Eastern markets or online. I use it on an organic cotton ball as a refreshing toner for my face. When it’s hot in the summer, I put it in a spray bottle and spritz my face, neck, and hair with it. It’s delightful.
I use organic coconut oil as a moisturizer, too. I’m not crazy about using it on my face – I don’t seem to react as well as some others do for that. But, I like it on my legs and my growing pregnant belly right now.

Now, for a couple of animal and eco-friendly companies that are not my favorite.

Suki

This company makes both body care as well as makeup. I want to like this company. Truly, I do. So much that I’ve tried many of their products, some of them twice! I keep thinking, “They get great reviews, even some awards, so surely I’m missing something.” But, for the life of me, I can’t get excited about them. The Exfoliate Foaming Cleanser, that’s one of the things I’ve tried… twice. It didn’t get my makeup off very well and just didn’t give me a clean feeling. It smelled heavenly though and I wanted to eat it! The face lotions… they just didn’t make me jump for joy. And, the makeup… hmmm… well, I’ll start by saying that the cheek and eye colors, which I have tried, contained beeswax. I actually bought them without knowing that. However, I still wanted to review them without that as a consideration. Some of the colors were nice, but here are my beefs: The eye cream colors did not stay put. At all. By the time I left the house after applying it, there were oily creases. Now, maybe I have oily eyelids? I don’t know. I tried many things like using powder as a base, touching up with powder after, etc. Nothing helped. The eye colors are also not easy to apply. I tried using both a brush and my fingers. The cheek tints had some nice colors and effects, but it wasn’t easy to carry in my purse because the jars are a little heavy and took up room in my makeup bag, but how can I complain about glass jars, right? It’s nice to have makeup in those! The biggest problem with the makeup I tried was that (3 times!) the pots of color started to smell horrible after a relatively short period. It smelled rancid. That said, I’ll give the company big props for great customer service, their mission, and their use of glass containers for most of their products.

Alima
To be fair, I’ve only tried one of their eye powders, but I wasn’t crazy about it. It didn’t have much punch for color. A friend of mine who is a former makeup artist recommended them to me; however, I wasn’t impressed enough to try again since I was already happy with Coastal Classic Creations (mentioned above).

RMS Beauty
This company has a nice, clean website. Their mission is commendable (green packaging / containers and pure products). I only tried a couple of their products including the cream eye shadow and living luminizer. The cream eye shadow gave me similar problems as the Suki brand did – it creased and felt a little oily on my lids. Now, it is supposed to have a glossy-like effect, but it creased on me and I didn’t care for that. The website says that if creasing occurs to use a finger to gently (pat) correct, but who wants to do that all day? By noon, I’d have it mostly rubbed off if I kept doing that. The Living Luminizer is their best seller, but I was not a big fan. It was kind of weird to use. I tried highlighting various recommended areas of my face with it but found that either I didn’t notice it at all (making it a waste?) or it was too obvious. Perhaps I needed professional help using it… but if a makeup product is too hard to use, then who wants to use it? RMS uses minerals for their products but claim that they are not in the form of nanoparticles, thereby possibly making them healthier (does anybody know if this is true?). 

Well, that gives you a look into my makeup drawer and shower. Hope my recommendations have helped. I’m off to shop (I got a little excited after visiting all of these websites when collecting links for this blog post). So, what are some of your favorite products? Leave your recommendations, successes, and horror stories in the Comments section.

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Wednesday, January 6th, 2010

Super High Raw, Vegan Food Intake – Pregnancy Food Journal

by Kristen Suzanne in green juice, raw chocolate

This is what I ate and drank on Monday. I titled the blog post “super high” raw because when I eat high raw, it usually means cooked “food” in some form, but on Monday, all the food was raw, except for the Teeccino and the small amount of rice milk I had in my cereal.


Here we go…

1.5 cups organic Teeccino – I started the day with this. It has been sounding really good in the morning.
—–
2 cups organic green juice – This was made with lots of dinosaur kale, celery, cucumber, leaf lettuce, carrot, and lemon)
1 organic banana
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I went for a walk, which only lasted 30 minutes because I had to get back home to pee. I do that a lot it seems.
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Organic marinated kale salad made with avocado, lemon juice, Himalayan crystal salt, and black pepper for the dressing. I tossed in chopped red bell pepper and orange segments.
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Gigantic organic Red Delicious apple that I ate while walking my dog for 10 minutes.
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1 cup organic green juice (leftover from earlier)
Organic marinated kale salad (leftover from earlier)
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1 cup organic Teeccino while walking the dog for 10 minutes.
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4 small bite size pieces of delicious organic raw chocolate
1 piece organic Raw lasagna (yes, I had my dessert first – grin)
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I was hungry shortly after…. so I went back for more.
1 piece organic Raw lasagna
1 bowl of GoRaw’s buckwheat cereal (apple cinnamon flavor) with organic rice milk

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For Wednesday, so far my Raw vegan food intake has been:

Organic Banana Protein Shake (1-ish cup water, handful of ice, 2 bananas, 2 tablespoons hemp seeds, 1/4 cup hemp protein powder)

Gigantic Organic Red Delicious Apple

Huge Organic Salad with romaine, red bell pepper, cucumber, purple cabbage, carrots, and Sesame Pistachio Hempspread Dressing (using a delicious hemp spread that Wilderness Poets sent me to sample)





Sunny Lemon Macaroons with a cup of organic herbal tea from Mountain Rose Herbs – This is a new recipe of mine that made my taste buds swoon. I created it and named it with my mom in mind. Her nickname is Sunny and she loves lemon, coconut, and dessert. This recipe is to honor my mom, the future Nana to my baby.

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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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Monday, January 4th, 2010

Winner of My 16th Awesome Giveaway

by Kristen Suzanne in Uncategorized


Congratulations Lady Q!! Your name was chosen as the winner of my 16th Awesome Giveaway. The prize: GoRaw snacks from Sirova. Simply email me with your address so I can get the prizes sent to you.

Here is what Lady Q had to say when asked what products she’d like to see on Sirova’s website.

I have never heard of this site before but it seems great. I was instantly drawn to the raw beginners kit. I think they should mix it up a bit more. Instead of agave nectar and sea salt, they could offer raw chocolate and dried fruit. Not just typical dried/dehydrated items but maybe kiwi, cucumber, or something like that. I am curious about the nutritional analysis. Overall this appears to be a great site.

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Saturday, January 2nd, 2010

Happy New Year – 2010 Blog Posts

by Kristen Suzanne in Uncategorized

HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ALL OF MY READERS AND BLOGGING BUDDIES! I am so grateful to have you in my life. You’ve been through a lot with me this past 2009, and I love and appreciate all of your support more than you could know. Thank you!


2010 promises to be an amazing year! I am looking forward to writing tons of awesome blog posts where I share my pregnancy experiences, my food intake while pregnant and breastfeeding, lots of awesome giveaways for you, many new and scrumptiously delicious recipes, and as much advice and tips as I can muster about living this wonderful lifestyle.

Well, I’m off to make some organic green juice. We just stocked up at the CSA this morning. Whoo hoo! My breakfast today was a mug of organic Teeccino, a huge organic apple, and 2 organic persimmons.

Cheers XOXO,
Kristen :)

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Thursday, December 31st, 2009

High Raw, All Vegan Food Intake – Pregnancy Food Journal – Wednesday

by Kristen Suzanne in hemp protein, hemp seeds, kindle 2

I keep getting emails and comments from people interested in my food intake, so here is today’s. It’s another day of delicious food.


Breakfast

Organic Hemp Protein Smoothie made from: 1.5 cups water, 1/4 cup Manitoba Harvest Hemp Protein Powder, 2 Tablespoons Manitoba Harvest Hemp Seeds, 2 bananas (I recently bought a 25 pound bucket of seeds from Manitoba Harvest! I transferred them to glass mason jars and they’re all stored in my freezer now. I’m going to enjoy giving a couple of jars away to friends and family as gifts; I’ll even tie a little bow on it. That’s the gift of health!)


Mid-morning Snack

I was cold and still a little hungry after my protein shake so I had the following nourishing, warming foods. Let me tell you, they warmed my body right up, literally in minutes.

~1 cup organic miso soup from South River Miso (dandelion leek flavor – one of my faves!)

~1/2 cup organic kim-chi by Rejuvenative (they were so kind to send me samples – yum!).


Second Little Snack

While shopping at Whole Foods, I bought GoRaw’s little chocolate cookies and opened the bag in the store, eating 3 of them.


Lunch

~Large organic Delicious Apple (this was so delicious and juicy)

~Large organic salad with romaine, cucumber ($2.50 each now at Whole Foods – yikes!), tomato, and another batch of Cayenne Tahini Recipe I talked about in yesterday’s post. This batch I made last night around midnight and added a big handful of organic cilantro that I had in the fridge. When I gave my husband his salad he said, “Honey, thanks so much for making me so healthy with all the food you make.” I replied, “Of course! I want us to be centenarians together!”

~1 piece of Mother Earth Chocolate


We went to Starbucks to read (these are the books I’m reading on my Kindle2 right now: Playful Parenting and Unconditional Parenting). On a side note… I absolutely love my Kindle and it’s one of the best things we ever bought. While we were there I had some organic herbal tea (Mountain Rose Herbs) that I brought with me in a Starbucks thermos and glass mug.


Dinner

~Huge Salad (same as above)

~Rejuvenative’s Kim-Chi (same as above)

~Vegan Pizza! ZPizza makes the yummiest vegan pizza and they use Daiya cheese. If you haven’t had Daiya cheese, and if you have some cooked vegan food from time to time, then you’re truly missing out. This is reputed as the cheese to keep vegans as vegans (for those of you feeling like life isn’t the same without cheese). It’s life changing for many. It’s non-dairy, non-soy, non-gluten, non-rice, non-corn, non-nut, non-preservatives. For the most part, only a handful of restaurants around the country have access to it (ZPizza, Blossom, etc), but it’s supposed to be available for retail stores like Whole Foods in 2010. Furthermore, I did hear a rumor that it’s actually available in some Whole Foods now, but that they have been running out of it because it’s so popular. Anyway, back to ZPizza… they offer a whole wheat crust made with organic wheat and they also have organic vegan sauce. I top my cooked pizza with fresh veggie toppings to get some extra Raw into the meal.


After Dinner Snack

Large Organic Apple


Late Snack

Cucumber Wheat Grass Refresher (recipe in this post)

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Wednesday, December 30th, 2009

Maternity Clothes Shopping – New Outfit!

by Kristen Suzanne in Uncategorized


I officially grew out of my “go-out-in-public-pants” and had to get some new duds. I tried to wear my pre-preg pants for as long as I could, but after the holiday eating, the growth of my belly, butt, and thighs this week… it was time. So, here I am in a new outfit. Can I just say that maternity jeans are sooo comfy?! :)

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Tuesday, December 29th, 2009

High Raw, All Vegan Food Intake – Monday

by Kristen Suzanne in raw chocolate

Here is my food journal for today. Yum Yum! Everything is organic. :) I separated the meals below with the dotted lines so you can see what I ate at different times.


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2 cups organic Teeccino

1 bowl GoRaw’s buckwheat cereal (apple cinnamon flavor) with rice milk
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Cucumber Wheat Grass Refresher (yield 3 cups)
Awesome. Delightful. Super nutritious. I juiced it with my Hurom juicer (one of the greatest juicers ever).

1/4-1/2 cup water
2 large cucumbers
2 small apples
1/2 lemon
1 tablespoon wheat grass powder (stir this in after juicing the other ingredients)
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Miso soup made with my favorite brand of organic miso, South River Miso. This particular soup was made with one of their soy-free miso options. It was deliciously warming for my body on this chilly Arizona winter day. I love miso soup. It’s wonderful for digestion.

Large salad of romaine lettuce, tomatoes, and cucumber topped with one of my all time favorite dressings, Cayenne Tahini Dressing. I love this simple dressing so much that I can’t wait to make salads and find things to dip into it. I always lick the spoon after dressing the salad and I lick the bowl after eating the salad. I’ve been eating it for about 5 days in a row now. :)

Hhhmmm…. I bet you want the recipe, huh? Well, guess what? You can get it in my salad and dressing book. That’s kind of mean of me though, you think? Here I am teasing the heck out of you by telling you how delicious it is, and I’m not giving you the recipe. OK, OK, I’ll give it to you. I’ll include it in my next email newsletter. If you’re not signed up for it, sign up here and expect my New Year email newsletter to arrive in your inbox sometime in the next 1-2 weeks. Oh, and by the way, I also made a super wonderful kale salad recipe last week and I’ve made it three times since. It’s sooo good. My husband LOVES it! I named it Must-Make-Kale-Salad and will be sharing the recipe in my next email newsletter, too.
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The salad was so good that I had earlier, that I made another one, but this time it was simply romaine lettuce with my scrumptious Cayenne Tahini Dressing on top.





Protein Bar – GoMacro (Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip) - These are not Raw. They are vegan, macrobiotic, mostly organic, non-gmo, and even though they are probably not the healthiest bar on the planet, they are darn tasty. Four main things I like about them. 1) Taste – as bars go, I really enjoy these (my mom even loves them). 2) Convenience – packaged foods like this can be a life saver when I’m on the run or simply a starving pregnant woman. 3) High protein – protein grams aren’t something I really count when I’m not pregnant, but when I’m pregnant, I take stock of my protein every couple of days. And, 4) crap, what was the 4th thing I was thinking about?… mmmm…. mommy brain taking place right now…. OH! It just came to me! They fill me up like no bar ever has before now. I like having foods available that can keep me satisfied for extended periods of time. I tried my first one at Whole Foods, where I paid over $3 for it. I found them online, through Amazon (linked above), and bought a box, which makes them less than $2 each.

2 prunes
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1 cup organic Teeccino
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Another… large salad! This time it was romaine, cucumber, and Cayenne Tahini Dressing.

2 Raw Tacos – my husband and I chowed down on these – yum! It’s a new recipe of mine, but somewhat similar to the one in my entree book. The main difference is that I created a new “taco meat” recipe – and it’s easy, amazing, and fun! The cheese sauce you see in the picture is none other than my Cheezy Hemp Nacho Sauce! (Y’all know by now where to get that recipe; I’ve written about it enough – lol. For newbies to my blog, it’s here.)

1 bowl GoRaw’s buckwheat cereal (apple cinnamon flavor) with rice milk. I was still hungry after my salad and raw tacos that I gobbled up a bowl of raw cereal.
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2 pieces of Raw chocolate candy, more specifically it’s Mother Earth Chocolate (recipe available in my book, Kristen Suzanne’s Ultimate Raw Vegan Chocolate book and ebook. It has Vitamineral Green Powder in it (one of the best green powders ever), as well as chia seeds, dulse, and many other yummies. When I was biting into it, I said to my husband, “Thank god for raw chocolate candy that is already made and waiting to be eaten in my freezer!” It saved me from going crazy. :)
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Today’s exercise: I walked for about 45 minutes today. I started my walking program a few days ago and have not missed a day. I decided that walking 5-6 times a week is a priority for my mind, body, soul, and baby. Now that I simply “decided” this, I’m determined and I look forward to it, rain, cold, or shine. It’s now as important to me as eating healthy is.

PS. Here is a picture of the Must-Make-Kale-Salad I’ll be featuring in my upcoming email newsletter. Yum!

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