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WTF Are Goji Berries?

HelloGiggles

For a berry so small, the purported health benefits of the goji berry (also referred to as wolfberry) are kind of magnificent.

Nutritional facts regarding phytochemical, vitamin and mineral contents vary among varieties of the goji berry and depend on freshness levels, but the berry is most well known for its antioxidant levels, protein levels, beta-carotene levels and the number of amino acids (18!) contained within a single serving. All of the nutrients above are what contribute to making them sought after items in health food stores across the nation.

While more studies must be done to confirm these findings as indisputable, those who consume goji berries do say they can feel the difference. Plus, they’re celeb-endorsed, and these specific health benefits are the reasons why.

Antioxidants

The antioxidants found in goji berries provide immune support (its vitamin C content helps with this too, providing 500 times more vitamin C than a single orange would!). Many find that the consumption of goji berries can help to prevent or relieve flu and cold symptoms, as well as lower inflammation levels. What makes goji berries so special when it comes to antioxidants? Their high ORAC level, which indicates they are that much more effective at maintaining overall wellness.

Skin Health

Beta-carotene is what gives the goji berry its skin health benefits and is thought to help protect skin from the sun. Because antioxidants are known to fight aging, the goji berry is an ingredient found in many natural skin care products.

Eye Health

Goji berries are said to help protect eyes from macular degeneration, an age-related illness that causes blindness. Plus, the same antioxidants that help protect skin from the sun also help protect eyes from the sun.

Cancer Therapy

A study conducted in China showed promising results for those suffering from cancer. Those who were given L. barbarum polysaccharides in addition to IL-2/lymphokine-activated killer (LAK) therapy showed “higher response rates and longer remission rates.” The details of the study have not been fully determined yet, but these results are certainly promising and provide good reason for further studies.

Fertility

In traditional Chinese medicine, goji berries are thought to restore hormonal health related to “yin” deficiency and are touted for their ability to increase sperm count. Further studies have shown that goji berries can help to heal testes that have been damaged by heat exposure and DNA oxidative damage. Upon healing, fertility is improved, and goji berries are thanked for bringing about the outcome.

Mood and Energy

GoChi is a goji berry juice that has been studied in relation to its claims that it will boost mood and energy levels. One study showed that feelings of general well being increased, particularly in the areas of stress and fatigue, and their gastrointestinal function improved as well.

Blood Sugar

Goji berries are a great snack choice for anyone living with blood sugar issues because they are thought to help control the amount of sugar that is released into the bloodstream. They are also thought to  help increase glucose responsiveness which could make them a viable natural diabetes remedy for those who have mild forms of the illness.

Goji berries aren’t cheap, but they do come in a variety of forms including powders and tonics, and they are available both online and in health food stores. One of the best ways to consume the fruit, which tastes like a cross between cherries and cranberries, is to simply eat them in small handfuls — they make a damn tasty dried fruit snack.

A more economical way to include goji berries in your diet could be to purchase granola bars containing them or including the seeds in smoothies. Make sure whatever form you choose is organic and naturally sourced to ensure you’re getting the most out of your investment.

As wonderful as goji berries are, some studies have reported negative side effects if they are taking blood thinners or if they have an LTP allergy. Always speak to your doctor if you are taking any medications or have health concerns before adding any kind of supplement or superfood to your diet, especially when pregnant or breastfeeding.

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Why I'll Be Choosing a Midwife If I Have Another Baby

HelloGiggles

As a certified doula and childbirth educator, I have been exposed to an incredible amount of research and anecdotal information regarding pregnancy, childbirth and the postpartum period. I have also given birth twice myself in a hospital setting, attended multiple births in a hospital setting and studied the differences between midwives and OBs time and time again. I could write pages and pages about pregnancy and childbirth if given the opportunity (just ask my editors), and if you’d like to ask me a few questions about pain management in labor I suggest we set aside an entire afternoon to spend together — I have a lot to say on the matter.

Because of all that I’ve learned so far in my journey as a birth worker and mother of two, my outlook on decisions such as where birth should take place and who should be by my side as I labor and give birth to my children have adapted in many ways. One of the biggest adaptations to happen was my view on having an OB serve as my care provider. I have decided that if I am lucky enough to have more children, I will choose a midwife to be my care provider and I will (hopefully) give birth in a birth center.

Did I make my decision because I have slowly evolved into a hippie? No, but please don’t look at my long, middle-parted hair or read the ingredients in my DIY essential oil perfume that I made right before I did yoga nidra beside my crystal altar on the night of the new moon; you might not believe me.

Did I make my decision because I absolutely hate OBs? No. While I wasn’t pleased with my own personal experience with OBs, I am well aware that there are many great ones out there and they are invaluable to women experiencing high-risk pregnancies.

Did I make my decision because doulas and home births are #trending among celebrities? No. I don’t even know if that hashtag makes sense in that sentence.

I made my decision because after educating myself about childbirth, I have learned and seen that pregnancy and birth are both normal physical occurrences that my body was made to experience. So long as my pregnancy is low-risk, I don’t feel like I need a professional surgeon to oversee my every move. Midwives are a more than viable option when it comes time to choose a care provider during your childbearing year, and I’m not alone in my decision to choose a midwife instead of an OBGYN

Nurse practitioner Jessicca Moore, director and producer of the 2016 documentary Why Not Home?, chose to give birth with a midwife as well. She created her well-received documentary as a means of sharing the benefits of home birth from the perspectives of other medical professionals who, like Moore, opted for the social model of care embraced by midwives as opposed to the medical model of care within which they work. They, like many other women, have realized that midwives are a more than viable option when it comes to choosing a care provider to work with throughout your childbearing year. Here are a few reasons why.

Midwives are extremely qualified, trained and credentialed health care providers who care for women experiencing healthy, low-risk pregnancies. According to this study, the social model of maternal care practiced by midwives is founded on the belief that “the overwhelming majority of pregnant women have a normal and safe childbirth with little or no medical intervention.”

This means that midwives see birth as a normal life process as opposed to a state of being that is inherently risky. Furthermore, they believe that pregnancy and birth are incredibly transformative experiences emotionally, and thus require a more holistic and family-centered way of treating clients (midwives use the term “clients” instead of “patients” because they don’t consider pregnant women to be “sick”). Because of this, appointments are typically at least half an hour long and involve a lot more discussion about what the client is experiencing in all areas of her health.

Midwives believe in the power of a woman’s mind.

Midwives firmly believe that a woman’s state of mind influences the labor process, and therefore the care they provide is highly personalized to each client. They often ask personal questions regarding emotions and life at home, and they offer appointments dedicated solely to tackling any fears or concerns a client may have regarding their upcoming birth.

For many women, childbirth ends up being more painful because they are holding onto feelings of fear brought about by past experiences or the unknown. Midwives help their clients work through these issues or refer out to specialists if need be.

Midwives encourage and understand the importance of informed decision-making.

I love that midwives are all about childbirth education. This is because a woman’s direct participation in and ownership of her pregnancy and birth experiences results in healthier outcomes overall (even if emergencies arise). Some midwifery practices offer childbirth education classes while others hold group appointments. In these group appointments, multiple clients attend and share their individual pregnancy experiences while also being able to take advantage of the benefits one gets with an individual appointment. Not only is this a great way to prepare for childbirth, but it is also a cool way to meet other expecting parents. It’s never too soon start creating your village.

Midwives have low intervention and cesarean rates.

The social model of care practiced by the majority of midwives desires low intervention and cesarean rates and starts with the least invasive option if it comes time to handle any complications that arise in pregnancy and/or birth.

Proof of this can be found in this birth center study, which found that only 6% of the low-risk mamas who attempted to birth their babies at a birth center required transfer to a hospital for a c-section, whereas the overall rate of cesareans performed in U.S. hospitals on low-risk mothers is four times that at 27%. That’s an impressive difference, and one that is not to be taken lightly. C-sections are such blessings when they are truly needed, but when they happen for subjective reasons such as a “prolonged” labor that was actually perfectly within the normal labor time range, or a failed induction that wasn’t necessary in the first place, they can cause more problems in the long-run.

If a hospital transfer were to be required for a client, midwives are required to have backup physicians on speed-dial who are ready and willing to take care of mom and baby ASAP.

Midwives attend births at homes, birth centers and hospitals.

When seeing an OB, I was limited to giving birth in a hospital, which wasn’t the end of the world but it also wasn’t my birth place of choice. The vibe is much more medical, they don’t let you eat (some hospitals do, but most still don’t) and the whole nurse shift-change situation was slightly irritating. Having to meet new people over and over again while laboring half-naked was a quick way to distract me from any labor rhythm I had going on.

Birth centers on the other hand provide laboring women with a home-like setting within a medical environment. Giving birth in a birth center will give me a lot more space to handle labor pain in the ways I prefer, will allow me more time labor in peace and will also give me the opportunity to eat during labor, which is awesome because studies have shown no negative outcomes for mothers allowed to consume food and drink while laboring.

Can’t decide between a midwife and an OB?

If choosing a care provider is proving burdensome, ask yourself the following questions:

Where do I want to give birth?

If you envision yourself giving birth at home or in an inflatable tub, a midwife may be the best choice for you. If you feel more comfortable in a hospital setting, then a certified nurse midwife (CNM) or OBGYN may be your best bet. Check out this document to find out what makes a birthplace mother-friendly, and see how your ideal locale compares.

What does my insurance cover?

If finances are a factor, then starting with what your insurance pays for may be the most helpful place to start. Keep in mind, though, that many midwives and birth centers that insurance plans don’t cover offer financial assistance in the form of payment plans. Many expecting families have also found success in receiving financial contributions through crowd-funding sites and baby shower gift registries like BabyList to fund their birth center and home births.

How do I view birth?

To help you figure out the way you see birth, it may be helpful to read about the Mother-Friendly Childbirth Initiative. Compare this to the birth intentions you’ve set for yourself. See what resonates with you, what you agree with and disagree with, and have an open conversation about everything with your partner and any care providers you choose to interview (see next point below). A potential care provider’s willingness to have that conversation in the first place will speak just as loudly as the opinions they may share.

Things to Remember

It is important to remember that you are the decision-maker when it comes to your and your baby’s health. You always have options and you are always allowed to change your mind, even when it comes to your care provider. If you choose a care provider that ends up not being a good match, you can always find a new one, no matter how far along you are in your pregnancy. To prevent this from happening, or to find a new care provider if this does happen, interview potential care providers and ask them questions that will help you make the best decision for you and your family.

While a midwife is my care provider of choice, an OB may be yours, and that’s great! Everyone has different needs, concerns and ideas of what is best for themselves and their families, and I would never push my opinion onto anyone else. What I advocate for more than anything is that women educate themselves on their rights and options. So long as you’ve considered the possible outcomes of your choices and paid attention to your intuition, your decision will always be a good one.

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WTF Is Bee Pollen?

HelloGiggles

If you’ve been to a health food store, or even a smoothie shop, you may have come across bee pollen. “What the hell is bee pollen,” you may have asked yourself, because at first it doesn’t seem like a kind of thing that would be normal for us humans to eat. Well, let us break it down.

Bee pollen, which collects on the bodies of bees as they travel from flower to flower, is the food that young bees eat. Much like human breast milk, a food that young humans drink, it is considered to be one of the most nourishing nature-created foods available. Interestingly enough, bee pollen, like breast milk, cannot be reproduced in a laboratory setting. This is because bee pollen contains over 250 nutrients, some of which we don’t even yet have a name for. Isn’t that cool? So is everything else you have yet to learn about this incredible super food.

What are the health benefits of bee pollen?

Bee pollen is 23% protein, 10% of which is provided in the form of free amino acids. These free amino acids are easily used by the body to satisfy all of its protein requirements. This means that bee pollen can be a better protein source than any meat or dairy product available, and it can be a major asset to athletes and parents — two groups of people that need some serious stamina and energy assistance.

Bee pollen is also full of vitamins (including C and B varieties). While bee pollen is nourishing your body with its vitamins and protein content, its antibiotic properties, which have been shown to be impressively effective against bacterial strains as serious as salmonella, are working away at keeping you healthy alongside its antioxidant, antiviral and antifungal properties.

One of bee pollen’s biggest strengths is its ability to increase both red and white blood cells and improve blood circulation. That’s great news for those suffering from anemia or an infection that just won’t quit, as well as for those who find themselves needing to take anti-inflammatory medications somewhat regularly. The anti-inflammatory properties of this super food have been shown to be comparable to those of popular medications like naproxen.

Bee pollen can help manage your weight.

Another benefit of regular bee pollen usage is weight control. Bee pollen helps to stabilize weight by stimulating the metabolic processes, by reducing cravings as a result of the phenylalanine it contains and by helping to rid the body of excess fat thanks to its lecithin content (15%). The incredible things that happen within your body upon ingesting lecithin result in protection against unhealthy cholesterol levels and that ever-threatening risk of heart disease.

Is bee pollen good for your skin? YES.

Last but not least is bee pollen’s ability to improve skin’s health and overall appearance — especially in regard to acne. This is because bee pollen stimulates cell renewal and the formation of new tissue. Sufferers of skin issues such as psoriasis and eczema may also find relief upon regular ingestion of bee pollen because of these properties.

It can help with menopausal symptoms.

Some women may want to consider taking small doses of bee pollen regularly when it comes time to handle menopausal symptoms, as its ability to provide relief has been proven. If you find yourself somewhere in between pregnancy and menopause, bee pollen can help with stress management and the boosting of your immune system, which all of us overthinkers and overdoers could use some assistance with.

Is bee pollen safe to use in your diet?

Mostly, yes, but if you have a pollen allergy, you will most likely have an allergic reaction. That being said, using bee pollen in allergy desensitization sessions has been proven successful, and may be worth speaking to your allergist about.

Interested in adding bee pollen to your daily health regimen? According to Dr. Axe, a natural medicine expert and certified nutrition specialist, it is safe to consume one teaspoon of ground pollen by mouth three times per day for 30 to 60 days when using it as a means of treating a specific health condition, such as inflammation or depression. For daily use you can mix smaller doses with food such as honey or cottage cheese, or you can purchase bee pollen granules and add them to water, yogurt or baked goods.

One of the more satisfying ways to ingest bee pollen is in healthful smoothies. Blend with coconut milk, blueberries, bananas and ice for an energizing and happify-ing start to your morning.

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This is Why I Decided to Become a Doula

HelloGiggles

After experiencing an alarming amount of injustice as a working mother, I found myself being called to work as a childbirth educator and doula. My passion lies in educating women about how incredible they are, the amazing things their bodies are capable of, how to trust their intuition and how to exercise their rights as mothers in the workplace.

Before you dismiss this article as a fluff piece about how beautiful birth is and how we all must avoid pain medication to get the full effect of its splendor, please understand that this piece is about the specific and critical role a doula plays in childbirth.

Doulas know about the unknown.

Do you know the changes your body experiences when you become pregnant? Do you know what your placenta does, where it comes from, or what happens to it after your baby is born? Do you know what babies are capable of in utero? Do you know that labor has three stages? Do you know that some women don’t feel the pain of childbirth? Do you know how maternity leave works, or what happens if your baby is born early and has to stay in the NICU for longer than your maternity leave lasts? Do you know everyone keeps saying that “breast is best”?

There are so many unknowns already when it comes to childbirth and motherhood, but it’s incredibly sad how little we as women are told about these life-changing occurrences before actually experiencing them firsthand. I believe that by not educating ourselves about what we are capable of (whether or not we plan to have children one day), we are disempowering ourselves and each other.

Think about it.

By not understanding how pregnancy affects sleep, how can we truly support our exhausted coworker in the cubicle across the walkway? By not understanding how physically challenging childbirth is, how can we truly support our sister who has just given birth? By not understanding all of the effort breastfeeding requires, how can we truly support our friend experiencing challenges with providing nourishment for her baby?

Ladies, we need each other. We need to empower each other in ways we’ve never empowered each other before. We need to do more than compliment someone’s shoes or praise someone for losing ten pounds before her wedding day. We need to honor one another for conquering all of the hardship we face daily at our schools, jobs and homes. We need to respect one another for continuing to persevere in spite of discrimination and inequality. And we need to empower those of us who have become mothers and must deal with all of those challenges while also raising society’s newest members. Those new members of society will be change makers one day, after all.

Doulas empower their clients.

All of this empowering and respecting — that’s what doulas do. Doulas educate, encourage and support pregnant women as they experience bringing new life into our shared world. They comfort women during their pregnancies and support them physically and emotionally as they labor for hours, sometimes days, before actually giving birth to their baby.

Doulas help mothers afterward as well by visiting them in their homes and assisting them with breastfeeding. If she’s a postpartum doula, she cooks for her clients, tidies up their houses for them and keeps an eye on their babies while they nap in the next room. She answers questions, listens to her client’s feelings and behaves in the way we should all behave toward one another — as sisters, always by each other’s side.

I chose to become a doula because there have been many times in my life that I have felt disempowered. I used to feel scared, objectified, unworthy, hopeless, disliked, incapable of doing anything truly worthwhile. Then I became a mom and realized all that I was capable of. I was capable of growing a baby, giving birth to a baby, nourishing a baby with my own body and comforting a baby for years and years and years all the way into adulthood. I was capable of endless amounts of love. I was capable of standing up for myself and for my family. But most of all, I was capable of finally loving and respecting myself as a person. I finally felt worthy of life and love and happiness.

To be clear, while pregnancy and childbirth are what evoked these revelations, it wasn’t gaining the title of “mother” that did all of this for me. It was realizing my strength. Until she has given birth, a mother cannot truly know how powerful she is. She can’t picture it or truly practice beforehand. She has to prepare herself for every possible scenario, and she has to educate herself on the incredible amount of options she has and the potential decisions she may have to make. There is so much more to giving birth than just feeling contractions and pushing a baby out.

That’s where a doula comes in. A doula is very knowledgeable about pregnancy and childbirth. Some, like me, are childbirth educators and work as both birth doulas and postpartum doulas. Others are on the midwifery track, and others simply have a lot of life experience in the birth world and use their skills to help other women with their own birth experiences. One thing is for sure, though, no one continues to be a doula unless they are truly passionate about it.

Doulas are dedicated.

A work shift for a doula can be 48 hours long with no breaks. It could start at 2 a.m. and last until 7 p.m. two days later. Or a laboring mother could have her baby in a record-setting half hour before her doula has even finished loading all of her labor comfort tools into the car. The work is never predictable, and she is always on call. Her motto is, “If I’m not at a birth, I’ll totally be able to attend your [insert event here].” Everything in her life revolves around her pregnant clients and their unknown timelines. Due dates are really just guess dates, and nothing, not one thing, can be planned for or predicted when it comes to birth.

So what exactly does a birth doula do when her client goes into labor? A birth doula primarily provides love and support for her client while doing her best to make sure her client’s birth intentions are always at the forefront. Seriously. That may sound a bit flowery, but what more could a mother need when in the throes of laboring for hours on end? A doula provides that love and support through massage, aromatherapy, reciting birth affirmations, helping her client get into a rhythm of swaying and breathing, recommending new positions, dimming the lights, filling the tub, changing the water temperature and by adjusting the thermostat.

She provides that love and support by holding a straw in her client’s mouth, repeatedly rewetting a cool washcloth and placing it on her client’s neck, applying heat to her client’s lower back, holding the birth ball steady, propping her client up in the shower, blocking unwanted spectators, changing the song on the playlist, brushing her client’s hair out of her face and tidying up the birth space while her client rests.

She provides that love and support by standing in her client’s partner’s place while he or she eats a quick meal, taking photos if asked, asking the parents if they’d like a moment to discuss what their care provider has told them about a decision they have to make, answering questions about interventions, staying strong when her client is weak, staying in the room throughout multiple nurse shift changes, texting and calling curious family members with updates, rolling her client’s IV stand to the bathroom as she pees for the 100th time and diffusing any tension that may present itself if things become stressful.

Doulas have a positive impact on birth outcomes.

A doula is an all-knowing guide whose main goal is to protect and empower the mother who has trusted her to be by her side no matter what happens. Studies have shown that women who have a labor doula with them during labor and childbirth have shorter labors, have less of a need for medication to augment labor, are less likely to request pain medications, are less likely to have emergency cesarean sections and are more likely to be satisfied with their birth experience. Studies have also shown that women who have social support during the postpartum period tend to have less postpartum depression, breastfeed for a longer duration and make a better adjustment to parenthood overall. Isn’t it amazing that one woman supporting another woman can result in so many beneficial outcomes? Love and kindness are two very powerful things, and girl power is the real deal.

If you would like a doula at your birth but feel that it’s probably not feasible because you’re on a tight budget, rest assured that you still have options. Seek out doulas in your area that are still in training, as they typically provide reduced rates. If you feel more comfortable asking a certified doula to attend your birth but can’t afford their fees, ask if you can set up a payment plan to break the fee into smaller portions and pay over time. Interview a few doulas to find the one that’s best suited to you and your personality and needs, and ask them about their payment options. Don’t forget to see if your insurance company will reimburse you for your doula, some do and it’s definitely worth asking about.

Doulas are passionate about what they do. The firmly believe that every woman deserves to be fully supported  as she is birthed into motherhood. They aren’t just for crunchy mamas or women attempting to birth without the use of pain medications, they are for everyone.

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This is Why I Don't Believe In Having a Birth Plan

HelloGiggles

Nearly every childbirth educator and doula will mention and/or recommend a birth plan. There are so many amazing reasons for this, the primary being that creating a birth plan helps you to determine what kind of birth you aim to have, as well as what your preferences are.

There is, however, a growing movement against birth plans, a movement that I — a mother, doula and childbirth educator — find myself to be a part of. This movement stems from the idea that birth plans have turned into more of a defensive document stating the things a mama doesn’t want to happen in her birth, like pain meds, or coldly stating what she does want to happen, like immediate skin-to-skin contact with her baby. Rather than assist her in feeling empowered, the birth plan can further put her at the will of her care provider, positioning the care provider in such a way that some may feel as though they have the final say of what happens during a mother’s childbirth experience.

I created some fierce straight-to-the-point birth plans when I was pregnant with my two babies. “We decline this shot, thank you,” and “Don’t even mention episiotomy to me, thank you,” were some of the main bullet points on each one. I put a lot of time and effort into them, making sure I didn’t sound pushy. Handing the plans over was always intimidating because I wasn’t sure if I was going to be judged or laughed at for thinking I could actually dictate how my birth went. My body tenses up just think about it.

That being said, I was fully aware that writing birth plans didn’t guarantee that any of my specifications would be adhered to. I knew that the main point was to give my birth team a decent example of what kind of birth experience I wanted. Its purpose was also to make sure that if any questions were asked, the answer was already written down on a paper that anyone could read while I labored in peace. There’s nothing worse than making a laboring women talk when she’s in a primal state of birthing a new life…seriously, be quiet.

What I found after each birth, though, was that not once did I ever look at my birth plan, nor did anyone else look at it.

My team and I were all on the same page because we talked about my preferences, and if anyone had a question my husband or doula or mom or mother-in-law or sister answered it (yes, they were all in the room with me). My OB knew my wishes and kept trying to go against them anyway, but I stood my ground. That was cool of me to be able to do, but I was kind of annoyed by it because I shouldn’t have had to stand my ground. He had the plan, why wasn’t he following it?

So, was all of the time spent creating a birth plan worth it? Hell no.

What I wish I had done was set birth intentions and focus on what my ideal birth looked like as opposed to focusing on things that scared me or were completely unpredictable.

This doesn’t mean a pregnant mother shouldn’t concern herself with all of her options. I firmly believe that every single pregnant woman NEEDS to take a childbirth education class of some kind, and read a few key birth books. She needs to make sure she asks lots of questions in class, checks out reputable websites for even more in depth info, asks her care provider questions and trusts her gut — that mama intuition is no joke.

Essentially, you need to own your birth by preparing for it the way you would prepare for, say, your wedding day. Research, weigh your options, familiarize yourself with what could happen if you choose one option over another and talk it out with your partner and doula. With all of the time you saved by not actually writing out and printing copies of your birth plan, you can now dedicate your energy to setting your birth intentions.

Setting intentions is a lot like praying.

You state both out loud and in writing what decisions you’ve made regarding the situation at hand, and you leave it up to the Universe, God, the law of attraction etc. to guide those intentions into becoming your reality. The point of “planning” your birth in this way is that it helps you to stay positive and focus on all of the wonderful things that could happen instead of keeping you in a defensive place, fearful that no one will listen to you and that the things you are most scared of will happen anyway.

For example, instead of writing:

I prefer that an episiotomy is not performed.

…you write:

My body will fully open to give birth to my baby.

Read the first one again. How does it make you feel? Are you visualizing an episiotomy and feeling (understandably) terrified?

Now read the second one. How do you feel? Are you visualizing your vagina slowly opening as your baby’s head is crowning? Are you imagining what it will be like when the rest of your baby’s body is born and you get to hold him or her on your chest?

Which do you prefer? Does one make you feel more empowered? Which makes you feel more optimistic about your birth experience? Both came from a place of knowledge (you know that your vagina needs to open wide enough for your baby to be born, and you know that you’d rather not need assistance in the form of an episiotomy), but only one keeps you in that positive state of mind, and trust me, childbirth is a lot more manageable when you’re in a positive state of mind.

To get started with setting your birth intentions, make sure you take a childbirth class and read the books you wanted to read.

Once you’ve figured out where you stand on interventions and have talked about all of your options with your partner and birth team, buy yourself a beautiful journal, grab your favorite pen, gather things that make you feel happy, light some candles and get to work putting into your words what your ideal birth looks like. Visualize it and verbalize it. Write down your favorite birth affirmations.

Set intentions regularly and add onto your written thoughts as often as you’d like. When the time comes, bring your journal to your birth place, as well as those items that make you feel happy. Making a vision board could also be of great assistance to you if you’re a visual person. The presence of your journal, beloved possessions and optional vision board will get you into that positive space once more and serve as some powerful birthing motivation.

Even though you haven’t printed out a birth plan, you won’t forget where you stand on your options. When it comes to your baby, your team will know your desires regarding what happens immediately after birth because you will have discussed it with them. In this situation, however, writing out your preferences for baby’s care is perfectly acceptable and won’t put you in a negative thinking space. Remember that things happen the way they are supposed to, and no matter what path your birth takes you will rock it in its entirety. Why? because you’re a damn strong woman.

As always when it comes to motherhood, do what’s best for you and your family.

If a birth plan makes you feel more secure, by all means write one! But do yourself a favor and keeps things positive. Your uterus will thank you later, and all of that positive thinking and mindfulness-practicing will greatly benefit you throughout all of motherhood.

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