7 Natural Remedies for Allergy Relief

Many people unnecessarily suffer from seasonal allergies when a few simple remedies can offer a lot of allergy relief:

As prime allergy season approaches (at least in our area) I’m sharing the natural remedies that I’ve found to be the most effective for seasonal allergies and that I use when needed. These won’t be as immediately effective as a medication, but over the long-term have lessened my seasonal allergies greatly.

Here’s the deal:

Diet and overall health can make a big difference when it comes to allergies!

Natural Allergy Relief

We don’t suffer from many allergies anymore after our time on the GAPS diet, but I still occasionally get hit with an allergy attack from dust after cleaning though (a reason not to clean? I think yes!) and my hubby occasionally reacts to grass or pollen.

These simple natural remedies have been very effective for allergy relief in our family. Different people seem to benefit from different remedies, so it might be worth trying more than one of these to see which works best for you.

1. Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar is an age old remedy that is often recommended for a variety of health conditions. I’ve personally used it for allergy relief (and heartburn relief) with great success. The theory is that its ability to reduce mucous production and cleanse the lymphatic system makes it useful for allergies. It is also said to help digestion, weight loss and more so it is worth a try!

What I did: When allergies hit, I mixed a teaspoon of organic, unfiltered apple cider vinegar with “The Mother” (that part is important) into a glass of water and drank this three times a day. “The Mother” is simply a colony of beneficial bacteria present in some organic and unfiltered ACV brands. Check the label, it should list if it contains it.

(This is the brand I use) This helped me with relief of acute allergy symptoms and seemed to help avoid allergy attacks as well when I do it daily.

2. Neti Pot and Saline Rinse

I haven’t personally tried the Neti pot because I’m a big scaredy cat about pouring things in my nose, but I have friends who swear by it, and I’ve used saline nasal spray before. (If you use one, I’d love to hear your experience in the comments!) The basic theory is that you use a Neti Pot filled with a sterile saline solution to flush out the sinuses of allergens and irritations.

Surprisingly, I’ve heard this recommended by conventional and alternative doctors, and it seems that it doesn’t really have a downside.

To use: Either use a pre-made saline rinse or make your own by dissolving 1 teaspoon of himalayan or sea salt in a quart of boiled distilled water. Cool completely and put in the Neti Pot. Pour through one nostril and let it drain out the other.

3. Quercetin

Quercetin is a natural bioflavonoid that is said to help stabilize mast cells to keep them from releasing histamine. It is also a potent antioxidant that is said to help reduce inflammation. It is best used as a long term remedy and many people start taking it about 4-6 weeks before allergy season to help prevent allergy symptoms.

As with any herb, you should check with your doctor before using, especially if you have a liver problem, are pregnant, or are on hormonal contraceptives.

To Use: Though Quercetin is naturally found in foods like citrus and broccoli, it is very difficult to get the amount needed to relive allergies from food alone. A supplemental dose can be helpful for preventing allergies or helping acute symptoms. Not recommended during pregnancy or nursing though some practitioners feel it is safe after the first trimester and while nursing.

4. Nettle Leaf

Nettle leaf is another natural antihistamine that can be very effective as it naturally blocks the body’s ability to produce histamine. It grows in many places and can be made in to a tincture or tea, but for allergy relief, capsules made from dried nettle leaves are the easiest and most effective option.

Nettle leaf can also be used in combination with other herbs to make a soothing herbal tea for allergy relief. It is often mixed with peppermint leaf and sometimes red raspberry leaf to make a refreshing allergy relief tea.

What I do: I often include nettle in homemade herbal tea during allergy season (recipe at the bottom of  this post) and use capsules for acute relief of allergy symptoms.

5. Probiotics

Allergies are the result of an imbalance in the immune system that causes the body to react too strongly to a stimuli. New research links the presence of beneficial bacteria in the gut with reduced incidence of allergies.

Evidence is even emerging that a mother’s gut bacteria during pregnancy and nursing can impact a child’s likelihood of getting allergies throughout life.

While we can’t do much about our mothers’ diets while they were pregnant, balancing gut bacteria now and consuming enough beneficial bacteria can have a positive effect on allergies now.

What I do: I make sure we consume a varied diet that includes fermented foods and drinks like Kombucha or Kefir, which can hep boost gut bacteria. We also take a high quality probiotic capsule.

6. Local Honey

There isn’t much scientific evidence to back this one, but there seems to be a lot of anecdotal evidence from people who have tried it. (Even Mark Sisson weighed in on the subject here). The theory is that consuming local honey from where you live will help your body adapt to the allergens in the environment there. This is supposed to work like a natural allergy “shot” and doesn’t seem to have a downside.

What I do: Consume a teaspoon or more of raw, unprocessed local honey from as close to where you actually live as possible. Do this one or more times a day to help relieve symptoms. It is often suggested to start this a month or so before allergy season.

7. Diet Changes

If all else fails, sometimes dietary changes can be the answer to allergy problems. In our own experience, the GAPS diet helped relieve many of the allergy symptoms we experienced, including some rather severe food allergies in one of our children.

After our experience, I’d definitely encourage this as an option, especially for severe allergies or those in need of gut healing/rebalancing.

Cumin Coriander and Fennel Tea for Digestion

My husband recently went through a gut health program called Gut Thrive in 5, since after a surgery he had years ago (with resulting secondary infection and IV antibiotic use), his gut needed a little extra help.

His experience has been really good and he has seen a noticeable reduction in bloating and digestive problems (as well as some weight loss). One of the parts of the protocol is a soothing digestive tea called CCF Tea or Cumin Coriander & Fennel Tea that is said to be good for reducing bloating and inflammation.

Cumin Coriander and Fennel Tea

The taste of this tea is a little unusual as you might imagine (in fact, he jokingly calls it “Taco Tea”) but it turns out that this three-seed tea has ancient Ayurvedic roots and a host of benefits. (Note that this would not be the best choice for anyone on an autoimmune paleo type diet as it does contain seeds, but those who can consume spices and seeds can enjoy this tea).

On their own, these spices are some of my favorite to use in cooking, with cumin as part of my homemade taco seasoning, chili seasoning and fajita seasoning and fennel used in homemade sausage.

In combination, these potent spices have a unique soothing ability and even though I wasn’t on the protocol, I found this blend relaxing as an evening tea or as a mid-morning drink for mental clarity (and it seemed to increase my milk supply and calm my baby’s stomach as well so I’ve continued drinking it).

Here’s why these spices are so beneficial:

Cumin

Cumin has a long history of use for improved digestion, to help balance blood sugar and for respiratory issues. It is a source of Iron and Manganese, and one variety of cumin is the source of black cumin seed oil, which also has a long history of medicinal use in various cultures.

Cumin has a long history with documented use in ancient Greece and Rome, as well as in Biblical times. In fact, evidence of the use of cumin as a remedy was even found in the tombs of ancient Egypt and in writings from ancient India.

Hippocrates mentioned it in his writing and many cultures have used cumin in culinary and medical uses throughout history. A couple of recent studies have shown some promising potential for Cumin to help naturally increase pancreas enzymes and reduce bad cholesterol levels.

Coriander

Coriander is the seed of the Cilantro plant and also has a long history of use in Asia and Mediterranean countries for thousands of years. Evidence of its use was found in ancient Sanskrit text and in ancient Egypt.

In cooking, it is often part of Curry blends and is used to flavor Gin and certain other alcohols.

It has been used as a digestive remedy throughout history and is also documented as being used as a relaxing spice to calm an anxious mind. It is also sometimes used in tinctures and remedies for respiratory problems, urinary issues, and nervous system disorders. Some people notice skin benefits from using Coriander as well.

Fennel

Another spice with a history of ancient use by the Chinese, Indian, Egyptian, Roman, and Greek cultures as a carminative (remedy for bloating and gas) and expectorant (respiratory remedy).

It is often given to nursing mothers to improve milk supply and because its soothing properties seem to help calm a colicky baby through the milk as well.

It is found in recipes in many cultures, especially in Italy and France.

Benefits of Cumin Coriander and Fennel Tea

Some of the benefits often associated with this tea are:

Improved Digestion– All of  the spices used in this recipe are associated with better digestion and are carminative (meaning they reduce bloating and gas).
Possible Fat Loss– This tea may help improve fat loss according to some preliminary studies.
Increased Milk Production in Nursing Moms– I noticed this effect, which makes sense because fennel and cumin are often recommended to help increase milk supply.
Soothing for Colicky Babies-Another effect I noticed personally as this tea seemed to have a soothing effect not only on my own digestion but on baby’s too.
How to Make CCF Tea (Cumin Coriander and Fennel Tea)

Unlike some herbal remedies (homemade cough drops– I’m looking at you), this remedy couldn’t be easier to make with a few basic supplies and some cumin, fennel and coriander seeds.

I’ll warn you that the taste is a little bit unusual, especially if your main method of tea consumption tends to be of the sweet tea variety, but we really liked the calming and soothing effects of it and I think you will too!

Also, Christa (founder of The Whole Journey and the Gut Thrive in 5 course) recommends adding some lemon or lime and some raw honey to help the flavor and also suggests pouring the tea over ice to make an iced version that is a little more enjoyable (though I found the hot variety more soothing).

I’m no expert in Ayurveda so I’m not sure there are any additional health benefits, but I noticed a great taste benefit from adding a pinch of cinnamon or a few slices of fresh ginger root to the brewed tea.

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Cumin Coriander and Fennel Tea for Digestion

prep 5 mins

cook 5 mins

total 10 mins

author wellness mama

yield 2

A soothing and earthy herbal tea that is beneficial for the digestive system in reducing gas and bloating and which has a long history of use in Ayurveda.

Ingredients

1/2 teaspoon whole dried fennel seeds
1/2 teaspoon whole dried coriander seeds
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon whole dried cumin seeds (to taste- using the smaller amount provides less of the cumin flavor that many people have trouble with)
3 cups of water
Instructions

Optional prep step: For the best flavor, I like to roast the seeds on a baking sheet at 350 for about 5-8 minutes until fragrant and golden. This is optional but I find it really improves the flavor.
Grind the seeds- place the fennel, coriander and cumin seeds in a coffee grinder or use a mortar and pestle to create a fine powder.
Place this powder and the water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Simmer for 5 minutes until fragrant and remove from heat. Add cinnamon or ginger if using and stir. Let cool to warm before adding raw honey (if using). Note: some sources recommend letting the spices soak in the water for up to an hour before simmering, though I haven’t noticed any extra benefit when I’ve done this personally.
Strain through a fine mesh metal strainer and drink immediately or pour over ice for a cool drink. Can also be made in big batches, cooled and kept in the refrigerator until ready to consume.
Notes

Can I use already ground spices? In theory, yes, though all original sources recommend using whole dried spices and using immediately before brewing.

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The Hospital Birth of My First Baby

Staring at the plus sign on the home pregnancy test, I was in shock. My husband and I knew we wanted kids and planned to have a big family, though I hadn’t expected to get pregnant so easily. Our “plan” had been to wait a few years after getting married to start a family, and enjoy the time of “just us.”

Apparently I was one of those women who just gets “the feeling” when they are pregnant, because on a hunch I had decided to take a pregnancy test. Immediately aware of the new life I was carrying, I suddenly became concerned about every possible threat to the baby. Were there chemicals in my hand soap? Lead in the paint on the wall? Radiation from my laptop? I figured surely Dr. Pepper was off limits and poured the rest of the one I was drinking down the drain, realizing that I was nauseous, though probably only psychosomatically.

How will I tell my husband? I was out of town for the day and was driving back that evening. I packed my bag as my mind raced with thoughts. I pulled on my jeans and North Face jacket and got into the car. I had a four-hour drive ahead, plenty of time, I figured, to decide how to tell my husband and plan the next nine months.

Boy was I wrong! Those four hours were the fastest of my life. I was so excited to tell him, yet nervous at the same time. How would he react? Would he be excited too? As I drove the small state highway to my destination, I worried that the buckle of my belt was squeezing my stomach and somehow hurting the baby. I wondered if it was even safe for me to drive anymore, I was pregnant after all! I drove those four hours following every speed limit and driving law to the letter. Still trying to figure out how to tell him, I arrived at our apartment. That evening, we were planning to go out to a local bar that was famous for the aspiring songwriters who had played there. Rumor had it that anyone who wanted to make it big in the music business had to play at this bar, and tonight, one of our friends was playing there.

All through dinner I waited for the perfect opportunity to tell my husband, but somehow between the smoky atmosphere (should I even be around smoke?) and the drinking songs, the moment never felt quite right. I barely picked at the horrible bar food, slightly nauseous and wondering when the hunger part of the pregnancy would kick in. As we arrived back at our apartment, I got ready for bed. He noticed that I seemed rather reserved, and knowing that I had mentioned in passing the day before that I wondered if I was pregnant, he asked “are you still thinking you might be pregnant?”

Time’s up! I had to tell him now! “No,” I responded, “I am pregnant!.” He immediately got the look that I imagine most men get (or at least feel like getting) upon hearing the news that they are now a father: a look of fear, excitement and the realization that they now have another person to be responsible for. “Really?” He asked, “Are you sure?” I got the pregnancy test out of my bag to show him. As the realization sunk in that we were going to be parents, we sat on the bed, held hands and talked about the coming months. Where would we put a baby? What would we name it? What doctor would we use? I had just moved to the city where he worked after we got married, and hadn’t even thought of finding a dentist, much less a gynecologist yet.

We fell asleep that night with his hand on my 3-week pregnant (though five week pregnant by doctors calculation) tummy.

The next day, we told our families, and received a mixture of surprise and excitement. My husband has four brothers, who for a while had hinted about when they were going to be uncles, so after the surprise, they were excited too. When my 20-week ultrasound revealed that we were having a boy, that excitement grew for my hubby and his brothers. “More testosterone…” I thought to myself.

I was so busy with finishing up the last semester of my journalism program that I hardly had time to think about the impending birth until about seven months into the pregnancy. At that point, I figured it would be a good idea to Google “birth” and figure out what I wanted for this life changing experience. Bad idea. Bad idea to ever google anything! Immediately hundreds of results came up, including results for “birth videos” and “birth pictures.” Now for a young, seven month pregnant woman, close up pictures of vaginal birth are not exactly comforting. I squirmed in my seat as I accepted the realization that a seven or eight pound baby would eventually be exiting my body. I squirmed even more as I read of the record sizes of babies that had been born recently-14 pounds, 17 pounds… ouch!

I clicked on a link for birth plans. That sounded safe enough, it’s always good to have a plan, right? At this point I entered a whole new world I never realized existed. Did I want a PKU screening? What the heck is a PKU screening anyway? Did I want a vitamin K shot or Hep B shot for the baby? Why give babies shots, I wondered? Did I want any kind of pain medication? Now that was a good question!

My mom and my mother-in-law had both birthed their children naturally (a total of eight between them). I felt like this was something I should do, to prove my womanhood, of course, for I could not allow myself to be less of a woman that my MIL! That was setting the course for marital disaster. I checked “no medication” as my preference on the birth plan. After doing some additional reading on the possible dangers of epidurals, narcotics, and analgesics to mom and baby, I felt relieved by this decision. Then I got to the section on relaxation techniques. “Another good idea,” I thought.

The birth plan mentioned breathing, meditation, focal points, massage (everyone likes massage, right?), movement and other ideas for pain relief during natural labor. Then it hit me: I didn’t know how to breathe! Obviously if “breathing” was mentioned as a coping technique, there had to be more to it than just inhaling and exhaling. Google Ads mentioned Lamaze on the side bar. I had heard of Lamaze before, and figured this must be what breathing was all about. I searched for Lamaze classes in our area and called and reserved our place in the next class, which would finish right before we were due.

That night when my husband got home, I casually informed him that we were signed up for a Lamaze class, starting the next week. He groaned. His mom had taught Lamaze and he was less than excited about a six week commitment to learn how to breathe in a room full of other pregnant couples….

The next week he dutifully carried my two pillows, notebook, focal point and backpack of various Lamaze type items into the waiting room of the doctors office for the class. The class started with everyone introducing themselves by name and due date. We were one of the first couples due.

The instructor began with a basic (I mean VERY basic) introduction to the birthing process. After a good thirty minutes, it was safe to say that we all had a pretty solid grasp of where the baby was going to come out, how many centimeters it would take to get there, and that pushing was involved. We learned how to rate our pain on a smiley face scale (I would soon realize that there should have been no smiling faces on that scale!) and how to breathe in the various stages of labor. We practiced our “ha, ha, hoos” and our “puh, puh puhs” until we were blue in the face.

The next five classes consisted of more basic instruction on birth, practicing various positions to try during labor, and a video of a c-section. Why it ever seemed like a good idea to show a room full of pregnant women a graphic video of a c-section, I will never know! At least we got to see which husbands would be needing a hospital bed of their own during their wives’ deliveries!

Leaving the last night with our two pillows, bag of random items and notebook of positions and breathing, I didn’t feel any more prepared for our impending birth than when we began the classes. I dutifully practiced the breathing every day while my husband was at work, and was finally feeling pretty confident a few weeks later.

I was excited to tell everyone I met about my upcoming “natural” birth. I liked the looks of admiration (and sometimes horror) that I got from people with comments like “better you than me.” Apparently, being pregnant also makes you a prime candidate for hearing everyone else’s birth story, because by time my due date rolled around in September, I had heard about episiotomies, c-sections, epidurals gone wrong, tearing, vomiting and every other birth complication from family, friends, and random women in the grocery store and library. I had heard about 2-hour labors and 48-hour labors and everything in between. I had heard about three pound babies and 10-pound babies.

I had this vision in my head that I would go into labor on the morning of my due date, labor for a few hours, calmly travel to the hospital, and give birth in a joyful state a few hours later. What actually happened was much different!

For the four doctors appointments before my due date, my doctor told me that I  was “two centimeters dilated” and at the last appointment, “four centimeters dilated, I will probably see you this weekend!” As a precautionary measure, he decided to schedule me for an induction two days after my due date. Well, true to what would be his personality, our little bambino did not make his debut on his due date as I had planned. (Of course, most babies don’t arrive on their predicted date, but you can use a due date calculator like this one to figure out an approximate). The whole day I walked around, tensing at each movement little bambino made, wondering if it was a contraction. By about eight o’clock that evening, I had resigned myself that bambino was probably not arriving that day, though I still held out hopes for a two-hour labor!

All the suspense of waiting for the labor that I was sure would start that day did not make me the happiest nine-month pregnant woman with swollen fingers and fat feet, and needless to say, I was probably not the easiest cocktail of pregnancy hormones to be around either. This led to my husband and I having our first real fight that night, despite his best attempts to put up with my absolutely absurd hormonal fluctuations. At one point, I decided that I needed to go for a drive, and sat in the car sulking until I saw the lights go out and knew he was in bed.

I went back inside and he peeked his head out of the bedroom to make sure I was in safely and went back to bed. I glared at his back. How could he sleep at a time like this? I was still mad! Didn’t he want to try again to console me? Didn’t it bother him that we hadn’t spoken in a whole thirty minutes?

This thinking brought on a whole new wave of tears, and feeling sorry for myself; so I decided to sit down on the kitchen floor and wallow in my self-pity. I was, after all, entitled to act like this… I was pregnant. While sitting on the kitchen floor, feeling sure I was the only woman alive whose husband did not want to talk to her at eleven o’clock at night after arguing for a couple hours in a deeply hormonal state, I realized that there were spots on the cabinets. Food spots! How could we possibly bring a baby home to a place where there were food spots on the cabinets? The health department would investigate us for sure!

I pulled out a bowl filled it with water, added some vinegar (because I read that cleaning supplies are dangerous during pregnancy) and started scrubbing all the cabinets with a sponge. (Vinegar and water really works great for getting stains of cabinets, by the way). An hour later, I had scrubbed the cabinets, the inside of the cabinets, the stove, refrigerator, inside the refrigerator, the floor, the sink and every other open surface in the kitchen. I had rearranged the cabinets, re-folded the dishtowels and put new place mats on the table. Despite several calls from my hubby to “come to bed, labor could start anytime and you will need your sleep!” I continued cleaning my pickle smelling kitchen.

I wasn’t nesting. Nesting was only for people who were going to go into labor. I had resigned myself during my hours of cleaning that my body was indeed somehow broken, that I would not go into labor myself, and that I would have to be induced on Monday. After another two hours of dusting, vacuuming, scrubbing, organizing and re-hanging pictures, I decided to go to sleep.

As is usually the case, as soon as a pregnant woman stops stressing out about labor starting, it starts, and so it was with me. I put on my pajamas, brushed my teeth, and got into bed just as the clock changed from 2:02 am to 2:03 am. I will never forget those times, because just as the clock turned to 2:03, and just as I put my head on the pillow, I simultaneously felt and heard a pop, followed by the sensation of having sat on a water balloon of lukewarm tea….

I bolted up, sprinted to the bathroom at speeds that no pregnant woman should reach, fluid dripping down my leg. “My water broke,” I screamed as I ran. I sat on the toilet and for another few seconds as fluid gushed out. By this time, my husband made it to the bathroom, and after only a couple hours of sleep himself, groggily asked if I was sure. I pointed to the trail of water that marked my sprint to the bathroom. I was sure.

Our apartment became a frenzy of activity. “Call the doctor when contractions are five minutes apart or if your water breaks,” we had been told. We called the doctor, and got the answering service, which paged the on call doctor and had her call us. The on-call doctor, who I had never met, called and told us to come to the hospital immediately. Apparently, water breaking was a condition that needed to be monitored medically, and I was excited that something was finally happening.

My husband put the bags in the car, I rushed around aimlessly. We collided in the middle of the living room in one of the most emotional hugs of my life, saying nothing, but yet overwhelmed with both love and the reality of the situation. In that silent hug, we made up from our fight, we let go of our life as just the two of us, and we garnered strength for the task ahead. We took a picture by the front door, a family tradition we had been told to keep, and headed to the car. My hubby drove and videoed as I called our parents and told them the exciting news. They were less than excited about being called at 2:30 am, but told us to keep them posted.

When we arrived at the hospital, we entered through the emergency entrance because the labor entrance was closed for the night. We were sent to triage where they asked about one hundred unnecessary questions that should have been on my pre-registered, hand delivered a month ahead of time chart. After rattling off my birth date, marital status, blood type, and every other question imaginable (do you want my shoe size, favorite food, list of hobbies and all books read in the last 12 months while you are at it?), we finally got into what I thought was our room.

Wrong again! In this room (triage #2?) I had to change into a buttless hospital gown (miserable), and sit still for 20 minutes to be monitored. My contractions had started by this point, and as any mother knows, it is not easy to sit still in labor, much less for 20 minutes during contractions. A nurse came in and pulled out a huge q-tip. I asked what it was for, and she said “oh, just to check to make sure your water is really broken.”

By this point I was getting annoyed. Make sure my water was broken? Are you kidding me? Either that or my bladder just exploded. There was a puddle of amniotic fluid big enough to swim in at my house, and they weren’t sure my water had broken? Didn’t they go to nursing school?

“Yep, your water has broken,” the nurse confirmed. “Oh really? I am so glad that medical science has the technology to confirm that, because obviously me wetting myself all the way down the hall was not enough,” I thought sarcastically. Apparently, labor doesn’t help those hormones much!

Then we got moved to yet another room, where I was given an IV. I didn’t want an IV. This was not in by birth plan. Didn’t they read my birth plan? I panicked and began trying to remember all the things I needed to make sure happened. No epidural, no episiotomy, no enema, no shaving, no internal monitor, no being confined to bed. I wanted to be able to eat and drink, to move around, to take a shower.

We finally talked the nurse into a hep lock instead of a full IV and started pacing the halls to bring on active labor. We tried to do the Lamaze breathing, but, I had been the one who practiced it, not my husband, and by about 6 centimeters, I couldn’t spell my name, much less remember complex breathing patterns, so that was worthless. Instead, we paced the halls, logging hundreds of laps of the seventh floor of the hospital. I paced like I could run away from the contractions. I would speed walk between contractions, and stop and lean on the wall during contractions.

At some point I realized I was extremely thirsty (probably from all the exercise). I tried to get a nurse to bring me water, but was informed that water was not allowed during labor, and given ice chips instead. At 6 a.m., after not sleeping at all, and being incredibly thirsty, ice chips were not cutting it. I let them melt and then drank the water.

At this point, I decided to get in the shower. My nice nurse who had been there since we checked in and who was supportive of natural birth was off duty now, and the new nurse was less than supportive. She informed me that the on call doctor had a 12-hour time limit after ROM (rupture of membranes) and wanted patients to be in second stage by then or would discuss a c-section. It is difficult to relax in labor to begin with, but being told you are on the clock for a possible c-section does not help matters much.

By this point, I was about eight centimeters and beginning transition. I couldn’t remember my breathing, the shower wasn’t helping, I was vomiting and I was in the most pain I had ever felt. On top of that, I was a ticking time bomb for a c-section, just because my water had broken. (I found out later that the general rule is 24 hours minimum after water has broken before c-section is considered).

It was early-afternoon by this point, though I was losing track of time. The nurse was talking about pitocin, which, according to what I had read, made contractions ten times worse. I hadn’t slept in 24 hours and did not have the strength to keep fighting the contractions. At the continued urging of the nurse, I opted for the epidural, and after the teeth-grinding experience of having a long needle stuck in my spine, felt much better. My poor hubby didn’t watch this part; he doesn’t do needles.

At this point also, we called his mom, who is a nurse practitioner, and asked her to come to the hospital to be our advocate against any other interventions we didn’t want, as we were both too tired to fight anything else. Though his family lived over an hour away, they were there within 45 minutes. To our surprise, not only his mom, but his dad and five siblings arrived as well, and filled up the waiting room.

My MIL massaged my feet for about an hour (found out later that this also speeds up labor), while my husband got some much needed rest and checked the score of his football team, the Bengals, who were playing their arch rivals, the Steelers, that day. By 3 p.m. I had gotten the go ahead to start pushing, though at this point, I couldn’t feel my lower body and was stuck on my back. So much for the plan of pushing in whatever position I felt comfortable in!

I pushed for an hour or so with the help of the nurse, not really able to feel much. I had the vague sense that laying flat on my back with my knees tucked into my chin was not the most effective pushing position, but then again, what else could I do when I couldn’t move my legs?

Suddenly, I knew something must be happening, because the nurse pushed a button on the bed and about 15 people I didn’t know rushed into the room. Part of the ceiling pulled down, revealing two huge spot lights, a mirror and a tray full of surgical instruments. I had deja vu of being back in the high school musical, feeling the heat of the spot light blinding me, though I wasn’t half naked with a team of nurses and residents staring at my most intimate parts during that musical!

At that moment, the doctor walked in. Behind the glare of the lights, I saw what I can only describe as an evil version of Miss Frizzle from the Magic School Bus show. She was wearing tie-dyed scrubs with curly bright orange hair flying everywhere. This was the woman who threatened a c-section. This was the woman who wouldn’t let me have water. I glared at her between pushes.

At some point, evil Miss Frizzle decided I needed an episiotomy (ironic how that happens at 4:30 in the afternoon when she might want to go eat dinner soon), and Bambino slipped into the world from my numb, lacerated, body.

Evil Miss Frizzle held Bambino upside down for a few seconds, tapped him on the back and elicited a shrill scream of disapproval. While the Evil Miss Frizzle was stitching me up, the uncooperative nurse cleaned, weighed and measured Bambino and put eye drops in his eyes.

I finally got to hold Bambino about ten minutes after he was born. What a feeling! The most intense wave of emotions washed over me as I simultaneously felt the most incredible love I had ever felt, and the strongest protective urge I had ever experienced. I can only compare my feeling at this time to that of a mother lion in her protectiveness of her cubs. I refused to let anyone else hold Bambino, until finally, his Dad had to hold him while I attempted to urinate for the first time (another uncomfortable experience after birth).

The emotion I felt seeing my husband hold his son for the first time is second only to the emotion I felt the first time I held Bambino myself. The rough, strong, exterior my hubby usually had melted away and I witnessed the gentleness of his love for his son. “Hi Bambino,” he said, “welcome to the world.” I melted. There is something indescribable about seeing the man I loved more than life itself talk to our newborn son with the strength of emotion in his voice that I remembered from our wedding day.

I gazed into Bambino’s blue eyes, held his little hand, and nursed him. I had a strange stirring sensation in the pit of my stomach that quickly turned into a knowing pain. Hunger! I realized I had not eaten in almost 24 hours and was absolutely famished! Luckily, my four always-hungry brothers-in-law had the same idea, and had already ordered pizza. I don’t even like pizza, but those two slices of disgustingly greasy pizza they smuggled into my hospital room rank on the list of top ten meals of my life.

With the pizza as their excuse, my in-laws flooded into the room to meet the new addition, the first grandchild on both sides. Bambino got passed around to all seven family members in the room as I sat on the edge of the bed, sure someone would drop him. As his family passed our newborn around, my hubby turned on the TV to check the scores for the football games. The Bengals had won!

We finally moved to our sleeping room at around ten o’clock that night, and I still had not been given any actual food by the hospital. I had clearly marked “no separation” on our birth plan, but that night, nurses continuously tried to take Bambino to the nursery for tests, monitoring, etc. I didn’t sleep that night much either, or the night after, since I was afraid that as soon as I slept, they would come take Bambino away. The one time I finally was able to doze off, I awoke to a stick in my arm. “Just taking some blood for tests,” the nurse said. “Think you could have woken me up first?” I thought to myself?

After 48 hours of sleep deprivation and revolting hospital food, we were finally released from our cold prison of buttless gowns, evil doctors and unnecessary testing.

I mourned the loss of my perfect birth experience, and felt that I had been cheated of a special rite of passage. I couldn’t put it into words, but something had been taken from me with those unnecessary interventions. I was unhappy with how the birth had occurred, but I focused on the positive. I had a healthy, happy, baby. I knew I wanted something different with our next baby, but for now, I engrossed myself in motherhood. I savored every giggle, every bath and every time Bambino nursed. If I started to focus on the sadness over the birth experience, I would kiss Bambino’s forehead and smell all those delicious baby pheromones. The “fountain of youth,” my hubby called it.

The next few months passed uneventfully, with us documenting every smile, burp, and sound Bambino made. I had it in the back of my mind to research more on natural birth, but never got around to it in the day-to-day business of raising a newborn and learning how to cook Italian food. I married an Italian, but having never really cooked before, I realized I had a gigantic learning curve, seeing as there is actually more to Italian food than just pizza. Soon, dishes like manicotti, homemade ravioli, and lasagna became part of my cooking regimen, eventually even gluten free varieties, but that is a different story!

When Bambino was 11 months old, I had that strange feeling again that maybe I should take a pregnancy test, though as far as I knew, my fertility had not even returned yet. Sure enough, we were expecting our second child!

My Natural Hospital Birth Story After 26-Hour Labor

After all of the unwanted interventions during my first hospital birth experience, I knew I wanted a different birth experience this time and a more supportive provider.

I finally settled on a group of nurse midwives who practiced under a doctor and could deliver babies in the hospital. Since I didn’t know I could get pregnant yet, I had no idea when my due date was. At my first prenatal appointment, the midwives confirmed by ultrasound that I was due in June… our little bambini (plural for ‘bambino’, which means ‘baby’ in Italian) would be 20 months apart! (Using a due date calculator, I also figured out about when I got pregnant)

I was so excited about my switch to the midwives. There were 12 of them in the practice, and all seemed to be naturally minded and supportive of unmedicated birth. I knew I was in the right place when they actually encouraged me to form a birth plan in advance so that all the midwives could read it before the birth.

Each prenatal appointment with the midwives was a learning experience for me as they encouraged questions and would actually take the time to answer them. Even though they were supportive of natural birth, I think I still threw in a few questions that caught them off guard such as:

Me: How many people do you allow in the delivery room?

Midwife: We usually do that on a case by case basis according to what the mom wants. How many people do you want to have?

Me: Well, at least my husband, my mom, his mom, his sister, possibly my friend who is in nursing school, and any of his brothers who might not have time to get out of the room before the baby comes.

Midwife: Let’s just talk about it when things get closer.

or

Me: Does the hospital have a birthing ball?

Midwife: No, but you are welcome to bring your own.

Me: Ok, Does the hospital have a squat bar?

Midwife, I think so, though no one has ever actually used it before.

Me: Does the hospital have a fitness center?

Midwife: Huh?

or (my favorite)

Midwife: Ok, so now that you are at 36 weeks, this is when we usually discuss birth control options for after the birth. (side note: I had made it very clear that we were not, did not, and would not be using any form of contraception, but this was a new midwife who apparently had missed the large handwritten note on my chart)

Me: None

Midwife, confused: You will not be using any form of contraception?

Me: Correct.

Midwife: You know that breastfeeding is not an effective way to space pregnancy, right?

Me: I am aware that after six months postpartum fertility can return even if I am exclusively breastfeeding, yes.

Midwife (with the classic “light bulb goes on” look): Oh, so you are planning to get your tubes tied…

Me: Definitely not!

Midwife: Oh, so your husband is getting a vasectomy?

Me (angry at this point): NO!

Midwife (even more confused): You want to have more children?

Me: Bingo!

At 20 weeks, the midwives wanted to do another ultrasound to check for abnormalities, which was common procedure in their practice. We decided to find out the sex of the baby since my MIL wanted to throw a baby shower and I thought it would be convenient to know what color clothes to ask for. On the one hand, I was hoping for another boy so that Bambino would have a brother close to his age, but I also really wanted a daughter. My husband, on the other hand, from a family of 5 boys, wanted another boy and jokingly said, “I only make boys.”

After what seemed like an eternity, the ultrasound confirmed, we were having a girl, our Bambina.

Unlike the first pregnancy, this pregnancy went by extremely fast because with an 18 month old running around, I didn’t have a lot of time to just sit and think about the baby. By six months in, I still hadn’t started researching natural birth, though I still had the same desire to have one. We attended a wedding in Baltimore, one of my husband’s friends, and the night before the wedding, we were talking to the Groom’s mother in the lobby of our hotel. She had nine children and had them all naturally. I talked to her for a while about wanting a natural birth and how I was preparing.

“I am so determined to do it naturally this time,” I said, “I will just grit my teeth and deal with the pain.” We talked more about my reasons for wanting a natural birth, including knowing the possible dangers of the medications and wanting to be fully aware of the birth of my child.

“That is where your difficulty is,” she said, “Birth is not a thing you can fight, and tension and fear will create the pain you are afraid of.”

What a novel concept! I had never though of birth in these terms before. To me, it was always an obstacle to be overcome, a challenge to bear. In that conversation, she talked with joy about her births, and about how although difficult, she enjoyed them. I had never even considered enjoying birth. Society had told me that birth was painful. Ever since my earliest memories of TV, birth was a horrible event that seized women by storm, bringing them to the ground, usually in public, and with immediate pain. According to TV, women in movies screamed, they cried, they leaked water all over the floors of department stores, but they certainly did not enjoy birth!

From this conditioning, I had always viewed birth as a chance for heroic display, the opportunity to prove that I was a stronger woman by fighting the pain and managing without medication. Groom’s mom explained to me that this outlook would cause me to be tense and to fight my body in labor, leading to pain that didn’t need to exist. She talked about relaxing and letting my body do its job, and about not being afraid of birth.

Before long, it was well past midnight, and with a sleeping toddler in my arms, I told her I needed to head up to bed. As we were saying good night, she recommended the book Childbirth Without Fearby Dr. Grantly Dick Read, which she said was instrumental in her attitude about birth.

The conversation that night led to a renewed interest in researching birth, and this time, I decided to try the library rather than the internet. I requested the book she recommended, as well as Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth by Ina May Gaskin, a renowned midwife from Tennessee, and the only midwife who has a medical procedure, the Gaskin Maneuver (used in cases of shoulder distocia) named after her. While waiting for these books to come in, I stumbled across a link for the Ricki Lake documentary, The Business of Being Born, and watched it online.

The Business of Being Born presented a new perspective on medical interventions and the importance of natural birth. It was also the first time I had seen a home birth, and I was hooked. I was fascinated by these women who gave birth and caught their own babies and were up and walking around almost immediately. It was such a beautiful version of birth that I had never considered.

Soon, my books came into the library, and I devoured them within a couple days. The one line that really struck me from Dick Read’s book was from a woman he had assisted in delivery early in his career. He went to her home late in labor and kept trying to give her medication, which she kept refusing. After the birth, he asked her why she didn’t take the medication, as she seemed to be working hard.

“It didn’t hurt, it wasn’t meant to, was it doctor?” she responded. This question from her shaped his career as a medical professional and gnawed at me for days. Was birth really not supposed to hurt? What about the movies? What about the social perception of birth? What about my own pain in my first birth experience?

I reflected on the events of my first birth and evaluated them earnestly. Certainly, I had been tense, and was certainly fighting the contractions. At the beginning of each contraction, I would tense up and prepare myself for the pain. Perhaps this had contributed to the pain and exhaustion I experienced. It made some sense.

Dick Read recommended later in his book different techniques for relaxation in labor, including relaxing the jaw, which he found to be connected to the cervix and when relaxed, the cervix would as well. I started practicing this, and working to visualize my perfect birth with relaxation techniques.

I also started reading Ina May Gaskin’s book and was captivated by the birth stories of the women in her group who lived at a place called “The Farm,” which a group of hippies had settled in Tennessee. These women seemed joyful in birth, and the pictures in the book showed women smiling in labor. They didn’t even call contractions by that name , but rather referred to them as “rushes.”

Those two books started a whole paradigm shift in how I looked at birth. I started to view birth, not as an heroic event, but as a beautiful, natural thing that I had to relax into and not fight. I also found that I started to look toward the birth, not with fear, but with excitement. All the stories of natural birth and the joy the women had for them gave me a whole new set or reasons for wanting one of my own.

I started to visualize my birth each day and to practice relaxing my face and my abdomen, so that I would not fight my contractions. I finally also felt confidence in my ability, and my body’s ability, to birth naturally.

We also decided that it would be a good idea to have backup team on hand in case we had a long, exhausting labor again and he was too tired to coach when I needed extra support. We eventually decided on my mom, my MIL, and his sister (because she was so good at massages!).

I also prepared a “birth bag” with several of my old soccer socks filled with tennis balls for counter pressure and relaxation, heating and cooling pads, essential oils, herbs, my own pillow, my own clothes to labor in, food and drinks (contraband!), and an iPod with my labor list or songs.

I also started taking an herbal tincture in the last six weeks to prepare my muscles for birth. I was relaxed, I wasn’t afraid, and I knew that this time would be different….

Sure enough, two days before my due date, I woke up with contractions around 4 a.m. I didn’t want to wake my husband, so I sat in the recliner and timed them for a couple of hours. By 7 a.m. I was pretty sure this was the real thing. We decided to head to an early Mass at our church, since we didn’t expect labor to progress too quickly. We went to Mass at 7:30, and I had about 20 contractions during the hour long Mass. We headed home and called my mom, his mom and his sister (our backup team) to be on standby. Since my mom was 5 hours away, she left right away and his family finished up a few things and then headed our way.

Then, the one complication I didn’t expect, and had not prepared for happened! I had prepared for hostile nurses, and dealing with on-call doctors, and relaxation, and not going to the hospital until late in natural labor to help prevent interventions, but I had not prepared for my brothers-in-law!

Apparently, my MIL expected labor to progress more quickly than I did, because when she heard that my contractions were 5 minutes apart, she expected to go to the hospital soon and she, my sister-in-law, father-in-law, brothers-in-law and a friend who was visiting, all headed to our cozy one bedroom apartment to assist me. On top of that, my brother, who was only in town for the weekend, decided to stop by. On top of that, my hubby’s brothers invited over some of their friends who lived in the same town as we did. Within two hours we had two in-laws, six siblings, three friends, our toddler and us in our little apartment, just sitting around waiting for me to pop a baby out.

Not surprisingly, sitting around our really crowded living room with 13 people watching me have contractions was not exactly the atmosphere I needed, and labor stalled. Luckily, I was undeterred, as I knew I could do it this time. My husband and I walked several miles around our apartment complex, then around the mall, anything to get out of the house. My labor never stopped but I continued to have regular contractions at about five minutes apart all day. We checked in with our midwife all day, and she said that as long as my water had still not broken, we could stay home until contractions got closer together.

I begged my body to speed things up, I relaxed as much as I could with that many people around. My sweet hubby tirelessly massaged my feet and shoulders, got me Gatorade, walked with me, but yet my contractions stayed five minutes apart.

By dinnertime, over 12 hours into natural labor, I was hungry and so was he, and labor was still holding at 5-minute contractions. I knew we needed to get out of the house again, so we got in the car and started driving. I wasn’t sure where we were going, but we stopped at a sports bar that had food, and hopefully sports on (It was Sunday, once again so Football was on!). I think I might be the only laboring woman I know who would have gone to a sports bar, but we did… alone… our last date before Bambina arrived!

I was hungry, but my stomach was uneasy from labor, so the only thing that looked good was chicken fingers with hot sauce. (Just thinking about this makes my stomach queasy now, but it was wonderful then!) In between contractions, I ate my greasy, fried chicken with hot sauce, and my hubby had a sandwich and beer. The food (somehow) gave me renewed strength (at least as much as can be gained from nutritionally devoid food) and contractions started to pick up again. We headed home and I walked another couple miles around the apartment complex. Contractions seemed to be strong by now, so we headed home to make sure things were ready for the hospital. It was around 9 by now.

Of course, as soon as I was around everyone again, contractions slowed back to every 5 minutes. This pattern went on for another couple hours until my brothers-in-law decided to head downtown and everyone was exhausted. I felt awful for making everyone come in town and then taking so long in labor and I was doing everything I could to will my body to speed up. I was actually doing well relaxing in labor, perhaps too well, and though regular contractions were really not painful yet, I could tell I was progressing slowly by the tension I felt in my lower abdomen.

Finally, at around 11:59, I resigned myself to the fact that this bambina was not coming that night (yes, it took me that long!) My mom, who had gotten there around noon, my MIL, father-in-law and sister-in-law all decided to rest, and I thought that was a good idea.

I figured since the baby as obviously not coming that night, I could hopefully get some rest before labor picked up, if this was actually labor (I was doubting by this point.) My husband and I cuddled in bed. Nothing made labor better than just lying there in the dark with his strong arms holding me in total relaxation. He fell asleep, and though I was still having contractions, I was able to rest some as well. I laid there for a while, thinking how blessed I was to be having our second child, to have such an amazing husband, and a wonderful extended family (as labor-distracting as they may be).

I was just starting to doze off, when true to what would be her personality, Bambina decided to pick things up (finally). I was awaken from my semi-deep sleep by what seemed like a different kind of contraction. It didn’t hurt, but I could tell my uterus was tightening much more strongly than it had been. It lasted about a minute, but after 20 hours of labor, I wasn’t convinced so I started to doze off again…

There was another one… definitely a contraction! I stayed there for a few more, concentrating on letting go and relaxing, and eventually needed to move. I got up and went to my bathroom. I was feeling the intensity of the contractions now, and while they were much stronger, they didn’t hurt so much as they required my complete focus to relax through.

I rocked back and forth on the towel rack with each contraction, moaning softly. I was exhausted, but had a new surge of energy, realizing that labor might finally be picking up. After a half hour or so (by about 1:30) I was vocalizing loud enough to wake my poor mom, MIL and sister-in-law who vigilantly helped me relax through each contraction. At the beginning of each one, each mom would grab a foot and my sister in law would grab my hands and they would massage me until the contraction ended. This alone made labor almost worth it!

Contractions continued to pick up and at about 2:30, my youngest brother-in-law came into the apartment briefly to pick up towels because they were at the hot tub. (Can I just say how excited I was that they got to hang out in the hot tub while I was having contractions and couldn’t get in myself… oh I love that!)

“You look terrible,” he said, walking through the living room and seeing me on the couch during a contraction. I found out later that he meant that to mean that the contractions looked painful, and was trying to show sympathy. The mixture of the way he said it, the fact that it was the middle of the night, and the fact that I was almost 24 hours into labor, made me laugh hysterically.

For anyone who has not laughed during labor, I highly recommend it! Laughing took my mind off labor, and relaxed my jaw (thanks Dr. Dick Read) and I felt my cervix dilate some. At this point, contractions really started picking up and were coming every couple minutes and lasting at least a minute each. I was still hesitant to go to the hospital, but I could tell everyone else was getting antsy, worried that Bambina might make her debut in the apartment (would that be so bad?).

I reluctantly agreed to start getting ready to go, but wanted a shower first. I got a quick shower, put on my robe and favorite sweats and made sure everything was in our hospital bag. My husband, who was pretty sleep deprived by this point, loaded the car and we set off. Just as we were getting into the car, I started vomiting. At this point, I was glad we were on our way, because I knew from my first labor that vomiting meant the start of transition. My wonderful husband held me thorough each contraction in the back seat and helped me breathe, while his mom, who was also a Lamaze coach, suggested some things for him to try with me. I found that saying “howth” helped a lot, so I said that every contraction.

We arrived at the hospital about 4 a.m. and began the wonderful check in process once again, which was my favorite part (note: sarcasm). Once again we had to go to the emergency entrance (Can’t my kids come during normal business hours?) and deal with the night shift nurses. We had to go through a metal detector and our purses were searched for who knows what. I vaguely remember muttering something about searches and seizures and how they just made my day after a full day of labor. (Then again, searching me for weapons at that point might not have been a bad idea).

We finally got into the hospital and then had to sign all the wonderful forms. No, I do not want to donate any tissues, fluids, etc. that may occur as a result of birth. No, I do not want my DNA used for research purposes, etc. Where do they come up with these questions, really? I distinctly remember asking the poor night receptionist if she was a member of the sadistic committee that created a 24-page sign in form involving such insane questions.

She retaliated by asking me if I was sure I was in labor and suggesting that perhaps I should sit in the waiting room to make sure. After I finished having a contraction, I gave her a look that I suppose was convincing enough, because she called a nurse to come get my in a wheel chair, which I was grateful for at this point.

I was in the middle of transition by this point and was starting to get to that wonderful semi-conscious state that happens during the pushing phase. I tried to remain focused and tell the nurse pushing me all the things that were in my (8-page) birth plan.

“It’s ok,” she said, “We all read it already.” Really? How wonderful. I finally trusted that everything would be ok, and just surrendered to the power of my labor and zoned out. Once we got in the room I peed, snuck a drink of Gatorade, and put the i-pod on. They wanted me to sit down and be hooked up to the monitor just to see the strength of my contractions and I was ready to sit down by this point, as the contractions were strong enough that I felt them in the top of my legs and they made me somewhat weak.

My midwife asked if she could check me, and announced that I was 8 centimeters. More good news! I knew that labor was progressing, but after my first labor, was afraid that I would only be at about 5 centimeters. I knew from reading that once transition started, it normally didn’t last more than about 2 hours at the most, so I knew I was on the home stretch.

My water still had not broken, and I was listening to my music, fully zoned out in the hospital bed. The midwife told me to tell her if my water broke, and left to get a drink of water. I labored this way for about an hour, though it seemed like less, as my perception of time was hazy at this point. At about 5:15 am, over 25 hours into labor, I felt a warm gush and knew my water had broken. At the same time, I felt Bambina’s head descend deep into the birth canal. I knew I needed to tell the midwife, but I was in that wonderful (and I really do mean it sincerely) hazy phase of second stage. (I am convinced our bodies do this so that we don’t remember any pain at this point, because I stopped feeling any pain at this point, and only felt an urgency to push, and a one track focus on this mission). It was at this moment that I panicked for the first time in labor and doubted that I could do this. Supposedly every women has this feeling at that point of no return, and I loudly announced I wanted medication….

The midwife came back in and decided to check me again. As soon as she lifted the sheet, she realized that I was pushing, and signaled somehow to the nurse. Instantly, the tiny room filled with nurses (who I later found out wanted to see natural birth, as several had not seen it before). No hope for medication now! True to my birth plan, they didn’t pull down huge lights, and the room stayed quiet. I was unaware of anyone but my husband’s presence. I really wish I could describe this part adequately. My first doctor once described this part as “birth is your ultimate reality,” and while I don’t like much else about him, this quote has always seemed appropriate. That stage of unmedicated pushing was a time when I was intensely aware of the reality of life, and yet, somehow out of touch with it at the same time.

I have no concept of how long the pushing phase lasted, it seemed like only minutes, though I was told later it lasted about half an hour. It was such a surreal feeling to feel Bambina coming down the birth canal. Pushing came rather easy, and it was not my body that I had to struggle with at this point but my mind. My body had every instinct to get Bambina out and to get her out fast, but my mind still held on to that little doubt that I couldn’t do it, and that held me back. I would push, but not hard, for fear of the actual birth.

All at once, convinced I was about to poop myself and that my rear end was going to explode in the process, I realized that if this intense sensation was ever going to stop, I had to actually push. I cannot tell you the fear of this moment, feeling birth for the first time. I consciously surrendered to my body, realizing that the final push would hurt, but doing it anyway. The best comparison I can make to this moment is when on a roller coaster, when at the top before the biggest drop, when you have a second of panic and want to get off (maybe just me!) but have no choice and have to let go. For me spiritually as well, this moment was a tremendous lesson in letting go at the times it seems impossible. As soon as I surrendered to my body and really pushed for the first time, I felt that infamous “ring of fire” and her head crowned. (Is this what that song was written about? “And it burned, burned, burned, like a burning ring of fire…”). With one more light push, she was out into the world, and true to my birth plan, lying on my tummy.

There was instant relief from the pressure and force of pushing. It took me a second to snap back to reality, and I was filled with the most intense surge of emotion. I can personally attest to the fact that this emotion is much stronger and more instant with an unmedicated birth than even one with an epidural. I instantly bonded and was instantly in love with our little Bambina. We announced her name to the family, as we hadn’t told anyone (though they had been taking bets). I got to hold her and nurse her, and the placenta delivered naturally about 10 minutes later. They waited to cut the cord until after it stopped pulsing and cleaned and evaluated her on my stomach.

Bambina was born not even two hours after we got to the hospital, and I never got an IV, an epidural, pitcoin, or any other intervention. Also true to our birth plan, she didn’t get a vitamin K or hep B shot and they actually asked before doing any tests or anything on her.

I looked at my beautiful little girl in my lap and cried with emotion. She was so perfect, my birth had been so perfect, and I felt that it somehow made up for the pain of my first birth experience. I also got an incredible surge of energy that I had not gotten in my first, medicated birth. I felt like I could run a marathon, though in reality, I only walked to the bathroom to pee on my own only 30 minutes after giving birth. (I am told this is a formidable accomplishment) Luckily, peeing also meant the nurses didn’t have to monitor me as much anymore, for which I was grateful.

Within an hour, we were moved to our room that we would stay in for the next 24 hours. I was slightly mad that I couldn’t just walk and I couldn’t carry her in the wheelchair, but Bambina never left my sight and I was too happy from the birth to get upset. Though I hadn’t slept at all during my 26-hour labor (that involved about 5 miles of walking), the mixture of endorphins and adrenaline was too powerful to let me sleep. I sat there in bed and held her for the first five hours after her birth, entranced with how wonderful she was.

Poor hubby wasn’t so fortunate to have the emotion surge, and he was exhausted after his 26 hours of coaching. His family came to visit right after we transferred rooms, and then had to leave to get back home. My mom was staying with Bambino at our apartment, and we were alone to relax. He fell asleep immediately, and I stayed awake, holding our little girl. I still remembered how they always tried to take Bambino to the nursery in the hospital after his birth, and tried to take him if I fell asleep, so I wasn’t about to sleep.

I realized again that I was starving, and luckily, just as breakfast was brought into the room. Bambina slept in my lap as I ate breakfast and got to relax. I was ready to go home then, but had to stay at least one night. We had friends come visit to meet Bambina that afternoon, though we didn’t let Bambino come visit to meet her, because we didn’t want him in the hospital ( I still didn’t like hospitals).

The next morning, about 24 hours after she was born, we left the hospital with Bambina and went home to have our little Bambini together for the first time. Though it was tough, I loved my natural hospital birth and knew I would do it again!

I became an outspoken advocate of natural birth and talked about it to anyone who would listen. I especially liked to talk to pregnant women in hopes of sharing a joyful perspective of childbirth in contrast to the ones they were probably also hearing at the grocery store from complete strangers.

Homemade Baby Powder

When I first became a mom almost a decade ago, I started to question the ingredients in everything I put on my baby. Unfortunately, there were not good answers to most of my questions. One product I was surprised to find had problematic ingredients was baby powder.

The Problem with Baby Powder…

Innocent though it seems, baby powder often has some hidden ingredients. Some regular baby powder contain talc, which is closely related to asbestos and has been linked to various cancers. Please don’t put it on your baby’s tender tushie! There are natural alternatives that are incredibly easy to make and work better without the  side of cancer.

I did find a few good store-bought alternatives like Burt’s Bees Baby Powder and Little Twig Unscented Baby Powder but I also wanted to find a good DIY version. I suspected that if I could make it, I’d save money and be able to customize it.

Unlike some beauty recipes that require many attempts before I find a recipe I love, this one was relatively simple and straightforward. Just a natural powder of some kind and optional herbs or essential oils.

Baby Powder Ingredients

I settled on using arrowroot powder or organic cornstarch as the base and added powdered herbs like chamomile and calendula to sooth sore bottoms. I’ve also experimented with adding just a couple drops of chamomile essential oil and it worked really well too.

I found this was easiest to use when I stored it in a powdered sugar shaker. (This is a great price on a set of two) I also package homemade baby powder in these with a recipe card of how to make more when I give this as a baby gift.

If you’re worried about what comes in contact with your baby’s delicate skin, consider making your own baby powder or using an organic option.

Ingredients:

1/2 cup arrowroot powder
1 tsp chamomile or calendula flowers, powdered in the blender or food processor or a few drops of chamomile essential oil
Instructions:

Powder the chamomile or calendula if using. Mix with the arrowroot powder and store in a glass jar or sugar shaker (see links above) for easy use. Use as you would regular baby powder.

Optimal Diet and Nutrition for Healthy Pregnancy

Oh, pregnancy…. that wonderful time when everyone offers unwanted advice and your body changes in ways you didn’t know possible. Since I’m now in the third trimester of pregnancy myself, and starting to really “feel” pregnant, I thought I would offer my own completely unsolicited advice for a healthy pregnancy. (If you’re pregnant, you are probably getting advice from the grocery store cashier, relatives, and complete strangers, so why not?). I am not a doctor, midwife, or medical professional, just another mom who has been there too!

This is only the fifth time I’ve been through all the joys of pregnancy (read about my previous pregnancies here), so I certainly don’t claim to have all the answers, but thought I’d share what I’ve learned along the way!

Healthy Pregnancy Begins Before Conception

From experience, I know that the best time to begin a healthy pregnancy regimen is before you conceive. Having a strong nutritional system in place not only increases your odds of healthy conception, but will also help your body handle the transitions of early pregnancy without all the discomfort.

For those struggling with achieving a pregnancy, optimizing diet and lifestyle factors can make a tremendous difference in successfully conceiving naturally.

Having positive dietary and lifestyle habits in place will also help minimize the discomforts of pregnancy and make sure baby is getting optimal nutrition as well.

Pregnancy Nutrition

Ensuring optimal nutrition during pregnancy is one of the best gifts you can give your baby. Doctors warn of the foods to avoid (cold cuts, excess caffeine, soft cheeses, alcohol, etc.) but few give detailed advice on what optimal pregnancy nutrition should look like.

I certainly had to navigate these waters myself during my first few pregnancies, and I’ve noticed that as my diet and health have improved, my pregnancies have gotten much easier.

Unfortunately, for many women, eating the best diet for baby during pregnancy requires forgetting all the conventional wisdom they’ve ever been told on health eating.

Low fat diet- not good!

“Healthy whole grains” – not so good either!

Keeping blood sugar stable with little carb snacks all day- not really!

A woman’s body is quite literally building an entire human being during pregnancy, and as such, she needs a lot of quality sources of all the things needed to support the human body- mainly proteins, fats, vegetables and fruits, and certain supplements she can’t adequately get from food.

Foods to focus on during pre-conception, pregnancy and breastfeeding:

Protein: Most women need 80+ grams of protein every day for healthy pregnancy. Some research shows lower risk of preclampsia and other complications with adequate protein, and some women report less morning sickness when they consume this much protein.
Fats: This is often the biggest hurdle for many women, but consuming adequate fats is absolutely vital to baby’s organ and brain development. Women should focus on healthy sources like meat (including red meat), butter, eggs, olive/oil, coconut/oil, nuts, limited dairy, etc.
Vegetables and Fruits: Vegetables and fruits have a variety of vitamins, minerals and fiber that are helpful during pregnancy. Eating a varied diet including a lot of green leafy vegetables can also help raise Vitamin K levels.
Water: A woman’s blood volume actually increases during pregnancy and her body has to supply fluid to replenish the amniotic fluid the baby is in. Drinking enough water (usually around a gallon a day) can help fight off morning sickness and also helps prevent constipation and make sure mom and baby are properly hydrated.
Foods to avoid during pre-conception, pregnancy and breastfeeding

Caffeine: There are a lot of conflicting opinions on if caffeine is safe during pregnancy and if so, how much. It certainly isn’t necessary, and is best avoided. If you do consume caffeine, limit to one cup a day and not from soda.
Processed Foods: With up to 200 chemicals found in the umbilical cord blood of some babies, there is certainly good reason to avoid any unnecessary chemicals in foods or environment. Processed foods also offer little nutrition and can lead to constipation and blood sugar instability (which can cause morning sickness).
Vegetable Oils and Fats: As I’ve explained before, vegetable oils and other omega-6 fats are foreign to the body and there is no need for them. They have even been linked to cell mutation and cancers, and should especially be avoided by pregnant women due to the rapid cell development of the unborn baby.
Grains and Sugars: Grains and sugars are certainly not the most nutrient dense food choices, and in some people, they can even cause health problems. Pregnant women should focus on the most bioavailable and dense sources of nutrition, which means choosing meats, fats, and vegetables/fruits over grains, sugars and baked goods.
Supplements For Healthy Pregnancy

Supplement needs can vary by woman, and all supplements should be approved by a doctor or midwife to ensure safety during pregnancy. In general, pregnant women have higher nutrient needs and often supplements are the only way to get adequate nutrients.

These basic supplements are ones that are often beneficial during pregnancy:

Probiotics: Best obtained from high quality supplements, fermented foods, and beverages like water kefir and kombucha. Since a baby  is born with a sterile gut and then has his or her gut bacteria begin to develop based on the beneficial (or not) gut flora of the mother this is an important factor! Adequate probiotics can also help reduce the risk of Group B strep, and have even helped get rid of Group B strep before delivery when probiotic supplements or organic plain yogurt are used vaginally.
Omega-3s, DHA, RHA– Adequate good fats are absolutely essential for baby’s development and it is difficult to get enough from diet. Supplementing high quality sources of these fats can help reduce risk of complications and give baby the necessary nutrients for good development. I get mine from Fermented Cod Liver Oil.
Vitamin D– This article reports that “Compared to women who took 400 IU of vitamin D daily, those who took 4,000 IU were half as likely to develop gestational diabetes, pregnancy-related high blood pressure, or preeclampsia, Wagner says. They were also less likely to give birth prematurely.” Vitamin D needs vary, but many doctors are now suggesting at least 4,000 IU and up to 10,000 IU a day. This can also be obtained from Fermented Cod Liver Oil.
Folate– Well known for its preventative effects against spina bifida and other developmental struggles, folate is another important supplement. The current recommendation is 400 micrograms, though many doctors recommend 2,000 micrograms or more for optimal development, and folate is water soluble and difficult to overdose.
Iron– Anemia can cause serious complications during delivery, and is easy to prevent. If blood tests show that iron levels are low, iron supplements may be necessary, but things like cooking with cast iron pans, eating red meat/grass fed liver and eating a variety of fats and vegetables can help optimize iron levels. I personally much prefer to get this from food rather than supplements.
Herbs During Pregnancy

Consult with a qualified herbalist, midwife, or doctor before taking any herbs during pregnancy! This chart gives a basic breakdown of herbs that are helpful, and ones that should be avoided.

If your doctor or midwife approves, some herbs can be very beneficial during pregnancy. My favorite is to make a strong tea that I drink throughout pregnancy using the following herbs:

Red Raspberry Leaf (4 parts)
Nettle Leaf (1 part)
Alfalfa Leaf (1 part)
Peppermint (1 part or less)- optional
I blend these dried herbs and make a strong tea by putting 3/4 cup or more in a large glass jar and filling with boiling water and letting sit overnight. I strain, and keep iced in the fridge.

Red Raspberry Leaf:
Red Raspberry Leaf: it is an all-around excellent herb to use for pregnancy. It is a uterine tonic, anti-abortive, and helps prevent infection. Aids in preventing cramps and anemia. Prevents excessive bleeding during and after labor and will facilitate the birth process by stimulating contractions.

Peppermint:
Peppermint: after the first trimester, may be used to help digestion, soothe the stomach and overcome nausea. It is an all-over body strengthener and cleanser.

Alfalfa Leaf and Nettle Leaf:
Can will guard against excessive bleeding as they have vitamin K; will improve kidney function and help prevent hemorrhoids.

Weston A. Price Diet:

The Weston A. Price Foundation offers more detailed suggestions for diet during pregnancy and nursing, and I follow many of their guidelines, though I don’t include the grains in any form and am not always able to consume that much raw dairy. Always check with your own doctor of midwife to find out the best diet for you during pregnancy, but from their website:

“Fermented Cod Liver Oil to supply 20,000 IU vitamin A and 2000 IU vitamin D per day

1 quart (or 32 ounces) whole milk daily, preferably raw and from pasture-fed cows

4 tablespoons butter daily, preferably from pasture-fed cows

2 or more eggs daily, preferably from pastured chickens

Additional egg yolks daily, added to smoothies, salad dressings, scrambled eggs, etc.

3-4 ounces fresh liver, once or twice per week (If you have been told to avoid liver for fear of getting “too much Vitamin A,” be sure to read Vitamin A Saga)

Fresh seafood, 2-4 times per week, particularly wild salmon, shellfish and fish eggs

Fresh beef or lamb daily, always consumed with the fat

Oily fish or lard daily, for vitamin D

2 tablespoons coconut oil daily, used in cooking or smoothies, etc.

Lacto-fermented condiments and beverages

Bone broths used in soups, stews and sauces

Soaked whole grains

Fresh vegetables and fruits

Foods to Avoid

Trans fatty acids (e.g., hydrogenated oils)
Junk foods
Commercial fried foods
Sugar
White flour
Soft drinks
Caffeine
Alcohol
Cigarettes
Drugs (even prescription drugs)”
Interested in a more natural pregnancy?

Sign up for the world’s first pregnancy week-to-week series from a *natural* perspective! Created by my friend Genevieve from Mama Natural, the series shows you what’s up with baby, mama, and more each week. You’ll discover natural remedies for various pregnancy symptoms and prepare for your best and most natural birth!

She’s Here! Baby Birth Announcement

I took a break from posting this past week to enjoy our newest little blessing!

Birth Announcement!

Our sweet little girl arrived last week after 25 hours of labor and is absolutely perfect! I’m extremely grateful to the awesome midwives who helped me have a successful v-bac and have been very blessed to have my fastest recovery yet.

Her siblings are enthralled with her and are adjusting well. She is a very happy baby and is already sleeping through the night, only waking to eat every 3 or 4 hours.

Needless to say, the last week has been busy, but I’m hoping to be back to regular posting tomorrow.

I’m also finishing up a Natural Fertility course that has been years in the making. It is based on my experience with clients over the years and has a really high success rate. Things have gotten so busy that I’m not able to take on any new clients, so this is my way of passing on this valuable information. If you or someone you know has had trouble conceiving and are hoping to do so naturally… stay tuned!

How to Save Money with Amazon Mom

Today I want to share a couple of resources I’ve recently found that save money and make finding natural food/products MUCH easier.

If you aren’t already a member, I highly recommend checking out Amazon Mom. A friend mentioned it to me several months ago but I just recently got around to checking it out. I’m kicking myself for not doing it sooner!

Basically, if you have kids or take care of kids (Dads can sign up too) you can sign up for an Amazon Mom account through your regular Amazon account and get free 2-Day shipping for up to a year, plus  15-30% off kids items and even food items (like coconut milk, pemmican, dark chocolate….)

Oh yeah, and it is free and you can cancel at any time.

This makes things like diapers (which are 30% off and have free shipping) cheaper to have delivered to your door than to buy at the store.

There are also quite a few movies that you can stream for free through an Amazon Mom membership.

If you want to sign up, here’s how. Click on “Your Account” in the top right corner of your screen once you are logged in to your regular Amazon account.

Then scroll down to “Settings” and click on  Amazon Mom Membership

It will prompt you on how to sign up and it doesn’t cost anything.

Wellness Mama Amazon Store

Since I’ve been spending so much time on Amazon, I made a list of some of my favorite resources and put them all in one place.

My recommended books, foods, grocery items and baby stuff are all in my new Amazon store. This makes it easier for me to find them to re-order, but I wanted to share it with you too.

Click on the picture below to check out the Official Wellness Mama Amazon Store, you don’t even have to leave the site, you can shop while still on my site!

Fleece T-Shirt Quilt Pattern & Tutorial

I came up with the idea for this quilt when my husband decided he had too many shirts from college and was going to get rid of a bag of them. He would never be able to wear all these shirts, but they represented memories for him and I wanted to preserve them.

I looked into options of having them quilted with a quilting machine, which looked great, but had a lot more steps and was going to cost several hundred dollars. I’d have to send it off to have it quilted and there wasn’t even time to finish it before Christmas.

This left figuring out a way to do it myself. I had the idea of using fleece as a backing and leaving out the batting entirely, but every search I tried online said it wasn’t a good idea and the lady at the fabric store said it couldn’t be done.

I highly recommend this type of t-shirt quilt for several reasons:

No hand sewing required
No interfacing, starch or other backing needed
No batting or inner layer needed
Easy to sew
Really warm!
Machine washable!
What’s this? Can’t be done?…. a Challenge!

I found fleece on sale for $3 a yard and bought three yards. In hindsight, I would have gotten a couple extra yards in case I needed it, but three yards was just enough for a 5 shirt by 4 shirt quilt (16 inch blocks).

After some trial and error, I figured out a pattern that I (hoped) thought would work and decided to give it a try. The confounding factor was that I had two weeks to get it done before Christmas and I could only do it while my hubby was gone and had to have all trace of it cleaned up before he got home so he wouldn’t suspect it.

Add four kids to the mix and I really wasn’t sure I could finish it by Christmas. Thankfully, the pattern worked and turned out to be easy!

I finished this is about 8 hours total (split up over about 5 days when he wasn’t home) and the end result is a very soft, warm and machine washable quilt!

My next project is to make smaller versions for the kids from some of their baby clothes that have special memories.

If you have some old t-shirts that are full of memories, this is a great way to up-cycle them and make them useful.

Materials & Supplies Need for Quilt

old t-shirts
fleece (all one color, or a mix if you want a patch-work back also)- about a yard per every 5-6 shirts
A lot of thread! I went through 2 spools. I used white so it would show on the back but any color would work.
Pinking shears (optional but recommended) or fabric scissors
A paper grocery bag or large piece of cardboard
A marker, pencil or colored chalk
A lot of pins
A sewing machine
A large flat surface (I used the floor)
Patience

How to Make The Fleece T-Shirt Quilt

Cut a 16×16 inch square from the paper bag or cardboard. This is your pattern for each square.
Lay the pattern over the back or front of each shirt (whichever part you want on the quilt) and make sure the design is centered as much as possible.
Use the marker, pencil or chalk to draw around the pattern onto the shirt. I used a permanent marker and just
cut right inside the line so no marker was left on the part of the shirt that would be in the quilt. You could just try to cut around the pattern, but I found that it is very difficult to keep the shirt from moving and creating an uneven square. (TIP: Save the extra pieces of t-shirt and cut into smaller squares to use for cleaning rags)
Once all the shirts are cut out, use the pattern to cut out an equal number of fleece squares.
Match up each t-shirt with a fleece square with back sides together and the good side of the t-shirt and the fleece facing out.
On each square, sew the diagonal pattern (see tutorial picture). Sew diagonally down one side first. Then, move out approximately 3.5 inches on either side and sew. Move another 3.5 inches from each of these and sew again. This will make a total of 5 diagonal “seams” through the t-shirt.
Repeat the same diagonal 5 seams, going to opposite way (see picture if this is confusing). This will leave a diagonal quilted pattern on each square.
Repeat with all squares.
Once all squares have been “quilted”, sew t-shirts into rows first and then sew the rows together to make the quilt.
To sew rows: Put the backs (the fleece side) of the squares together and sew with a 1/2 inch seam allowance. This will leave 1/2 inch of rough edges on the front side of the quilt. If you are using pinking shears, trim the seam allowances at this point (very slightly) to leave a zig zag edge.
Fold each side of the seam over and sew 1/4 inch from the original seam to make a 1 inch border between squares (see picture)
Continue to do this to create all the rows.
When rows are done, place two rows together with backs touching so that seams will show on the front side of the quilt.
Sew with 1/2 inch seam allowance, trim with pinking shears if using. Fold down and top stitch at 1/4 inch to leave 1 inch border between rows. (The same way you did between squares)
Repeat this until all rows are together.
For the outside edges: Fold them over 1/4 inch, then 1/4 inch again for a total of 1/2 inch folded over. Top stitch in the middle of this to create a finished edge (see picture). Alternatively, you can trim around the whole thing with pinking shears and just fold over once at 1/2 inch to create a zig zag border on the edges as well.
Trim all threads (this takes the longest!)
Enjoy your quilt!
Note: I am definitely not a professional seamstress and probably didn’t even use the correct terms in the instructions above. In the name of full disclosure, I also admit that while I measured each square to make sure it was 16×16, I did not measure each diagonal seam on each square. I just estimated and it came out ok.

My Organization Checklist: How to Manage & Schedule Your Home

I was hesitant to use the word “organization” in the title of this post because it’s not my strongest attribute. I get emails from readers asking how I make time for family, homeschooling, cloth diapering, projects and blogging, so I wanted to share the tips and tricks I’ve found and my organization checklist.

I am by no means an organizing/cleaning guru… and my husband would be the first to attest that I have room for a lot of! improvement in this area. Currently, there are toys on my floor and dishes in my sink, but my kids are playing happily and dinner is in the oven.

During an average week, I do 5-8 loads of laundry, cook three meals from scratch each day, attempt to keep the house clean, homeschool the kids, nurse the baby 8-10 times a day, and try to keep up with this blog. (and try to go to bed before 10 p.m… yeah right)

Besides the obvious fact that I’m probably crazy, I’ve found that I have to focus on organization and routine to be able to keep up with it all and that I also have to accept less than perfection (*ahem* my house right now) in different areas while focusing on the more important ones.

What Started It All…

When I only had one child, I was able to keep our 1 bedroom apartment clean and cook a hot dinner before my husband got home and even managed to brush my hair and do make-up most days.

Once one child turned into two, then three, then four, it seemed like there was such a volume of work to do that I couldn’t make time to do it all.

I felt like I was constantly mentally overwhelmed with the idea of everything that needed to be done.

A friend suggested that I read a book that had helped her, A Mother’s Rule of Life, and it literally changed how I ran the household and reduced my stress load almost instantly. (Note: It is written from a Catholic perspective but is universally helpful to all moms!)

The basic idea was just that you have a routine and plan for when every job needed to get done and how it would be done. This relieved the mental energy of worrying about when you would vacuum the floor or change the air filter.

Also, rather than scheduling everyone in the family to always be doing the same activities (which I was doing) it had scheduled activities for each child (school, play, chores, etc.) so the children could get used to doing these things and knowing when they needed to do things. It eliminated the “I’m bored” because they knew when I would play with them, when school would happen, when they were responsible for picking up and cleaning, etc.

What I Do

I created a rough daily outline of our day, so at any given time, I know what we should be focused on. Since my responsibilities change so much day to day, I outlined the activities I had to get done each day and scheduled time for the things that would come up each day (online orders, vet visits, playdates, etc.).

I also assigned major “chores” to each day of the week so that laundry was two days a week, cleaning bathrooms was one day a week, full mopping of the house was one day a week, etc. This let me not stress about the clothes in the laundry basket or the spot on the floor because I knew it would be cleaned soon.

I have scheduled times for meal planning, catching up on emails, reading to the kids and even relaxing (yes, I schedule time to relax…)

I also created an organization checklist of all the things necessary to thoroughly clean each room and put them on paper (sweeping, dusting, picking things up, folding, etc.). This way, when I tell one of the kids to clean a room, they can reference all the things they need to do and not just pick up the floor and call it done. (I drew pictures for each item for the little kids).

We do school in the mornings after breakfast and I work and do blog related stuff during their nap/quiet time. After dinner as a family, we clean up, bathe the kids, read books, say prayers, and the kids are in bed by 8.

After the kids are in bed, I finish up work stuff and spend time with my husband.

For everything that is on the schedule, we aren’t at the age of sports and extracurriculars yet, which helps open up the schedule, and while we have a TV, we can’t even get cable in our area, so we don’t watch it.

I’m a long way from perfect at managing it all, but I’ve found that the system at least helps me keep up with it without being stressed all the time.

My “Football”

To keep all the schedule, planning, meal plans, etc. organized, I have a 2-inch binder that is my “football.” Just like the President supposedly has a case with all the top security information (the football) with him at all times, this binder has all of my important information and is basically my home management encyclopedia.

In it, I have:

My daily outline of the rough times that I’ve scheduled for everything to happen that day. This is in a plastic sheet as it is pretty static.
My daily “Most important tasks” of my top three things that must get done that day, what I’m cooking for dinner, what my workout is, how much water I’ve drank, etc. This changes daily.
Weekly Routine: The jobs that I do each day and when they are doing during the day. Laundry, mopping, deep cleaning rooms, cleaning windows, etc.
Monthly Jobs: This lists has jobs that happen each month repeatedly, along with jobs that only happen during a certain month (changing of the kids wardrobes, planning the garden, outdoor work, etc.)
Meal Plan: Changes weekly but is planned ahead of time so I can shop for the week all at once and pre-prepare some items.
Room Cleaning Checklists for each room in the house
Daily Chores Sheet for each person in the house so that when it says “Morning Chores” on my daily outline, everyone knows what he/she should  be doing.
I highly recommend the book as she walks you through the planning and organization much better than I have. If it would be helpful to you, I’ve attached my organization checklist printables that I use for organization. Included are: Daily Outline Sheet, Daily Chores Sheet, Weekly Routine Sheet, Monthly Routine Sheet, Meal Plan Sheet, and Room Cleaning Sheet, along with my daily “To-Do list” Sheet.

Click Here to Download the Organization/Planning Printables

If these are helpful to you, please share via Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest so that others can use them too!