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Monday, January 12, 2015

Natural Mama Postpartum Gift Basket

Naturally inclined parents might be a little harder to shop for, since we read all our labels and abhor
from certain products. So what are good gifts for your natural mama friend when she's had a new baby?

I've compiled a list of things new mamas will be thrilled to receive, see what you can find and wrap them all up in a beautiful basket, success assured!


  1. Coconut oil. All natural mamas love coconut oil and I'm pretty sure your friend can list about 100 ways she uses it, but it's quite expensive, so getting her a jar will light up her day.
  2. All natural baby cream. I'm not very big on baby products and use very few if any, but a good bum cream is something all mama's will need at some point.
  3. If baby is born in winter, a good face cream might be a good idea, as baby's skin can get very dry with wind and cold and indoor heating. I specifically like weleda's calendula face cream for babies. 
  4. Cloth breast pad for those leaky boobs the first days after the baby's born.
  5. A Cloth diaper for your friend to try on her baby. there are so many systems available and new diapers can be quite expensive. Your friend may be a little overwhelmed. 
  6. Breastfeeding herbal infusion
  7. A Sitz Bath mix is a lovely way to heal the perineum and take a minute for yourself after childbirth. You can find lots of DIY recies for postpartum herbal mixes in my eBook The Postpartum Herbal Guide.
  8. Postpartum Cloth Pads are so much better than the chemically laden paper version, and can be used over and over during her period. I did reviews on most of the brands a couple years back and also wrote down everything you need to know about cloth pads
  9. Cloth baby wipes are easily made and you can never have enough
  10. Healing wool or healing silk such as this to treat baby's diaper rash
  11. Sweet almond oil is another topper, which works for massage, dry skin or as a moisturiser after the bath.
  12. Wool baby items, such as a little hat, socks, onesies, pants, blanket... extra points for knitting them yourself (or making them from recycled blankets or sweaters)!
  13. Postpartum Herbal Infusion
  14. Tea Tree or Lavender essential oil are really nice all round EO's, who'll certainly have use for these some day or another. 
  15. Maybe a little less known, but the Bengkung wrap is a lovely way of giving that extra little support of the back and belly after birth, and it also lightens postpartum uterine cramping. I'm a bit cross that I only discovered it after having a third child! If you think the tying will be much of a fuss for your friend (I certainly wished I had a postpartum doula to put mine on!!), there are simpler belly binding devices on the market. Such as this one.
  16. Firming belly oil for mama. Traditionally, the Bengkung is used with an herb infused oil. There is a lot to be said for a daily massage of the uterus after birth and combining this with lovely herbal scents will only be beneficial for your friend's recovery. Here's a DIY idea.
  17. Organic breastfeeding snacks, because your friend will be hungry A LOT and will have very little time to concoct things. Think of raw nuts and dried fruit, nut and seed bars, dark chocolate, fruit...
  18. Subscription to a Natural mommy proof magazine, such as The Mother Magazine, Natural Child Magazine or Natural Mother Magazine
  19. Onesies are the type of thing you can hardly have enough of the first months of your baby's life, so adding an organic onesie to the lot is a good idea.
  20. A nursing necklace is something the baby can fondle when he gets bigger - way more fun than pinching and fiddling with the breast! There are a lot of options in this department nowadays, from wood to knitted beads to healing gems, take your pick. 
Don't forget that offering a helping hand is priceless, especially in the early days after baby, when the family is still settling in to find their new balance. So bring round a healthy meal, clan some veggies, throw in a load of laundry or take home some ironing when you visit. Your friend may be too polite to ask, but she surely can use some help.

Making a basket? Share your picture on Authentic Parenting's Facebook page!



photo credit: Isle Concierge via photopin cc


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Thursday, December 18, 2014

Tips for a Successful Surrogacy Pregnancy

Content provided by Janice

Being pregnant is stressful for any woman. The dynamics change when you are not carrying your baby, entrusting it to a surrogate. This collaborative effort to bring a baby into the world is very emotional for everyone involved. With so many people involved, you need to remember a few key elements when you are going through the process.

Trust is key. Not blind trust, but the core feeling that everyone involved has the same goal. The agency, the surrogate and you are all working together so that in a few months, you will be proud parents. This is why the interview process is so important. You want to be comfortable with the woman who is carrying your child.

Communication is important. Talk to your surrogate about the level of communication that you would like to have. Remember that the surrogate has a busy life and may not be able to get right back to you. On the other hand, when your surrogate contacts you, make sure you answer.

When receiving texts and emails, try not read more into it than what is there. When everyone’s emotions are running high, it is very easy to misinterpret words on the screen. Take a moment and breathe when you feel anxious or stressed when responding.

You have to be flexible. The due date is not a definite date, but it’s more like a moving target. Yes, it will be inconvenient when you cannot make absolute plans because you do not know when your baby will be born. Being able to adapt during those final few weeks will keep you from going crazy. Welcome to parenting. Remember that you cannot control everything. Your surrogate may not do everything you expect. Things will not happen when you want them to.

As the due date gets closer, many expectant parents worry over bringing a child home. Even if you have planned and dreamed of the day, it can be scary knowing that you will be responsible for this little bundle of joy. Understand that a lot of what you are feeling is quite normal, even though you are not actually pregnant. Give yourself permission to experience your emotions and feelings, but do not let them overwhelm you.

Find a confidant, therapist, or minister who will help you work through your feelings so that you do not become hostile and anxious with the surrogate. Remember her generosity and that her body is undergoing many changes because of the baby. In addition to the emotional upheaval, your surrogate is fatigued, hormonal, and ready for it to be over too. Think before you speak and be kind with your words. Know that at the end of the journey, you will have a beautiful baby thanks to this gracious individual.

If you are struggling with infertility and would like to know more about surrogacy click here.

photo credit: avitechwriter via photopin cc


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Thursday, November 20, 2014

The Birth of Our Third

Where to start my son's birth story? On the day he was born? Or before that?

Our third decided his birth would not come unprepared and offered us not one, but two false starts. To prepare his siblings for his coming? To make sure we were ready?

To be quite honest, I had not been ready, even fearful of his arrival. Wondering if it had been a good idea to have a third, given that the other two were already demanding so much of me with their near constant fighting.

So came one Saturday and I noticed I had quite a lot of contractions... I went about my day, dropping off the eldest at horseback, going to the thrift store, having lunch... But the contractions kept on, strong and steady, but not at all alarming.
When we got home, I decided to see how much time was in between, as my midwife had to come from quite far. They were ten minutes apart, but steady.

I pmed my midwife on Facebook, telling her that I'd had quite regular contractions, so it could be near. Yet, by the time I wrote this message, my father in law and mother in law showed up. Unannounced.

And the contractions dead stopped. There would be no baby today!

This was a couple days before my official due date, which was the 8th of October. I'd given myself the 12th as the baby's birth date.

The week went by and nothing steady or regular came about.

The on Thursday - one day after the official due date - my husband went to work in France and I had an extreme bout of nesting, setting up everything for baby's arrival, cleaning the house, taking care of our animals. I hadn't had this amount of energy for weeks, so I wondered? Would it be near? I had incessant contractions throughout the day. My dad came to pick up my daughter so I could rest a bit in the afternoon. Even with rest, the contractions continued. And I cleaned and organised some more, doubting wether I should call my husband to come home. Wether I should inform my midwife or not.

By the time my husband was back, I was in quite a state and we decided to call the midwife to come over. We made the bed as we figured it could be somewhere during the night and we'd managed to sleep a little during the birth of our second child too.

Midwife arrived after dinner and we talked a lot. My contractions kept coming and by nighttime, they were getting quite intense.
I decided to go to bed and get some sleep while I still could. We'd put the kids to bed earlier.

I didn't sleep well that night, and by one in the morning, I knew it wouldn't be now. I felt guilty for having called my midwife and have her come over. I was pretty upset and didn't understand this coming and going of contractions, as I'd not experienced this with my two other children.
By morning, we wondered wether or not labour would continue, I went for a walk in the woods with my midwife, but decided it would be best she go home.

I consented to a vaginal exam, which I hadn't really wanted originally, but she wanted to make sure she wasn't leaving only to come back a few moments later; given the two hour drive. I was at three centimetres so she was ok going back.

In hindsight I'm not very happy having had the vaginal exam. I knew she could go home and it did push me off my balance at the time. Plus it hurt.

That was Friday morning. On Saturday morning, the 11th, I woke up and I knew it was on. BUt I didn't feel compelled to call my midwife again. I phoned my mom to take my daughter to horseback, so we'd have some time to get the last couple of things done.

By the time my daughter came back from horseback, I had been in and out of the birth pool several times. I'd paced around a lot. Had spend some quality time with my son in the birth pool. The yoga ball had stopped being useful as contractions became more intense and I felt like I was sitting on the babe's head. We tried watching an episode of Downton Abbey, but I couldn't concentrate on tv at all.

We had the fire going and it was a lovely sunny day.

I still hadn't called the midwife, as I knew it would make me feel inhibited, and I wasn't ready just yet to pop the lovely birthing bubble our family had formed. The kids walked around while I paced and sand and occasionally took hold of a chair to squat through contractions. Deep squatting really helped. Singing too (my oeuvre was mostly the Bastille CD, but also other songs on my birth playlist).

Somewhere in the afternoon, my daughter said it was time to call Leen (the midwife), and I told my husband she might be right. Initially I'd considered calling when my water would break.

Around the same time, it became too difficult for me to have the kids splashing around in the birth pool with me, so my husband took our son to watch something on tv and my daughter stayed to play doula. She sat beside the pool and held my hand.

I'd also found that positive moaning was more productive and meant less intense contractions, so I was alternating singing and "yes!". My husband came in and said he wouldn't let in Leen when she arrived, and I'd just have to shout if I wanted her there. I nodded, that was exactly how I wanted it.

When she arrived I was already pretty deep in laborland. He escorted her though the other door into the living room, my daughter was still by my side. Apparently she'd told him "this won't take very long", given the intensity of my "yes"-es. She was also quite surprised about the "yes" and the singing.

My water broke and I asked my daughter to get Leen to come and check wether it was clear. She did, like a pro, I may add.

Leen came in and said everything was clear, and asked if she could sit there, next to the pool. I was ok with that. The next contraction was huge and intense and seriously downward. It became clear that baby had seriously moved through the birth canal with the sack intact and I'd never even noticed. That one contraction was seriously painful, as if with the breaking of the water, he'd taken a wrong course and I felt like he'd break my tailbone.

"He's wrong, I have to move around" I said.
Leen suggested to get on all fours, but I felt like I couldn't move. She said to breathe and turn. Which I did.

It took another push for his head to be half born.
The another push for the rest of the head.
And with one more push, my new baby was born.

I took my baby and let him float in the water. It was pretty magical. I called out for my husband and kids to come, looking at the baby in the water. He was perfect. He opened his eyes slightly and stirred his limbs.

I called out again, then Leen said to take him out of the water.


The kids came in to gaze upon their new sibling. We spend some moments as a family cherishing this new life. The emotions washing over me.




We didn't know if it was a girl or boy yet. So my daughter went over to the other side of the tub to check. It was a boy. My feelings - and refusal of picking a girl's name - had been correct.


He had a full knot in his cord, and the cord wrapped around his neck. Oddly, I'd quizzed my midwife about her cord around the neck tactic the day before...


My daughter got to cut the cord with her daddy.

We had been guessing about his weight when I was pregnant (given that our son was 4kg710). He seemed really tiny.


Yet he weighed 4kg225 and measured a whopping 54cm!!




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Monday, November 17, 2014

My Mother's Blessing in Pictures

It's been quite a while since my mother blessing. Late pregnancy, birth and everything going on in our busy homeschool home - which is still under construction - has left me unable to write... Moreover, this birth has really exhausted me, I can't remember having been this tired, this long after the other babies. Is it age? Is it because there's now three to take care of? Is it because of the incessant breastfeeding my two year old has taken up alongside the newborn?

Without further ado: my mama blessing pictures!

Even though we kept the guest list very small, we had quite a lot of food :) All of which paleo! We were only 4, plus three kids, who then went on with two of the daddies. I intentionally invited very few people, because I wanted to be able to do the activities we'd planned without feeling inhibited. Plus, having few people around made it less tiring.
I also decided to have the kids and husbands out of the house, to just have a day for the ladies. I'm already non stop around the kids, so this was just for me.



We had a henna artist over to do some belly henna and hand henna for the guests and the kids. It proved quite the challenge to find someone in Belgium!!






All the kids and guests got some awesome henna too. Sadly, it was rather cold in the house, so the natural henna she used on me and my friends didn't last very long. By the time I gave birth, it was all gone!

After this, the kids went to the farm to pick up my birth favours and after that to the playground with the two daddies present.

We made an affirmations banner for the birth.


And a necklace with the beads each of the guests had brought.


The last activity we did was having our nails done. An unplanned activity my best friend had prepared.

I'll try to get a post up about organising mama blessings later on, when I have the energy to write another post. And I promise I'll get the birth story and some of our amazing pics up as well!


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