Viewing entries in
self care

Comment

Breaking Down Menstrual Products: What's New and What You Should Know

pad.png

 Back in sixth grade, our class was separated into two groups, boys went to one classroom and girls went to another. We all got the puberty talk, complete with embarrassing question and answer session. We were given the menstruation breakdown, shown pads and were told who to ask if we needed one.

 

While with our friends, we giggled and rolled our eyes when the teacher turned around, because how uncool was this? Most of us had been given some version of, “The Talk” by our mothers, or at least overhead the one given to our big sisters.

 

How much of that information we giggled at, have we used to take care of ourselves since those painfully awkward puberty years?

 

If you’re most women, you’ve been using the same pads and tampons for years. What do you know about them? How are the plastics made? The cotton? 

 

Truth is most of us don’t know, because feminine hygiene products fall under the classification of a medical device, so companies don’t have to disclose what ingredients are in their products. What we do know is that 90% of conventional menstrual pads are plastic. The plastics from pads and tampon applicators are not biodegradable, and will stay in landfills and waterways for hundreds of years. A few other ingredients we've found include poly-acrylate superabsorbents (SAPs), petroleum derivatives, synthetic ingredients, latex, and perfume.

That's not taking in to account the pesticides used in the cotton industry. 

Not cool when the vagina is a mucous membrane and will absorb the chemicals around it into your body.

 

With the number of women fighting endocrine issues and cancer, it's time to clean up our products and reduce the toxic load on our bodies. Simple switches can reduce our exposure, and improve the experience of our monthly cycles. 

Here’s a breakdown of the latest menstrual products on the market:

 

1)      Thinkx : These are undies that are absorbent in their own right with an antibacterial layer. Simply rinse and wash them in your washing machine. They are completely reusable. You can wear them alone or pair with a menstrual cup, sponge, or tampon. Pairing them with a menstrual cup means absolutely no waste products! Thinkx comes in different cuts and fits all body types.

THINX Period-Proof Underwear.

2)      Menstrual cups: Made of medical grade silicone, cups catch the blood by circling the cervix. A small learning curve is there in the beginning as you learn to insert it. Otherwise they come in multiple sizes and shapes, to fit all individuals. They can be worn for up to 12 hours, and then you simply empty the cup into the toilet, wipe out, and reinsert. Pair a menstrual cup with a pair of Thinkx and you have a waste free combo to cover you through your cycle. For more info on cups and how to pick the one that’s right for you, check out putacupinit.com.

 

3)      Mama cloth: These are washable, reusable menstrual pads. They secure around your underwear with snaps, and can be made with various materials, including bamboo, felt, velvet, and organic cotton. They come in all price ranges, and can be found all over the web from Amazon to Etsy. Some of my favorites are made by WAHM’s using beautiful upcycled material like Mama Scissorhands.  Some large companies like Lunapads, make an excellent pad with portions of sales going to provide hygiene products for girls in underserved areas. Often menstruation gets in the way of these girls educations, and Luna pads is doing something to change that.

Soft, absorbent, and free from endocrine disruptors.

Soft, absorbent, and free from endocrine disruptors.

 

 To clean your pads, you can store them in a wet bag, and when you have several ready to wash you can add them to a load of cloth diapers. If you aren’t cloth diapering, you can run them through a hot rinse cycle and add in a load of towels. Wash and dry as usual. A stash of 10-12  pads can last at  least  2 years, keeping tons of plastic waste out of landfills (and out of your body).

4)      Organic disposable options: While reusable options are awesome, it may not be a fit for every family. Plus, life happens and we need disposable options for times like vacations and busy seasons when one more load of laundry could be a deal breaker on the 'ole sanity. Some great brands using organic cotton and plant products include Natracare pads and My Lola.  Natracare caught my attention especially. Their pads are completely biodegradable, using 100% organic cotton tops, wood pulp filling for absorption, and corn starch. Even the wrapper around the pad is made of corn starch! This company gets the stamp of approval from The Ethical Company Organization and Vegetarian Society. They carry pads for all flows, include postpartum. 

5)      Sea sponges: Available in various sizes to absorb heavy to light flows, sea sponges are a cool alternative to tampons and cups. Simply rinse them out and insert; there are no tricks to learn and they last for several months before needing to be replaced. It has come into question though if there could be an issue with bacteria, sand, and other debris since they are sea animals. Risk for toxic shock syndrome is similar to tampons, but something to look for if you’re considering using them.

Sea sponges are soft and easy to use. A set will typically last three months.

Sea sponges are soft and easy to use. A set will typically last three months.

 

 

Resources for when something feels off with your period:

1)      Your OB-GYN or midwife: if you’re experiencing extra painful, irregular or missing periods talk to your care provider. They may request blood work and hormone panel to check thyroid, estrogen and progesterone levels. In some cases a transvaginal ultrasound may be needed to diagnose cystic ovaries and other pelvic issues.

2)      WomanCode: Perfect Your Cycle, Amplify Your Fertility, Supercharge Your Sex Drive, and Become a Power Source by Alisa Vitti. This book blew my mind. Author Alisa Vitti breaks down how our endocrine system works to balance our hormones, and how we can wind up with a full hormonal breakdown. She explains the resulting issues like PCOS, endometriosis, depression, anxiety, unexplained infertility, and PMS. The best part: the book breaks down how to heal your body with food. I’m on this journey myself now, and am seriously amazed at how much better I feel. (More to come on that soon!) Alissa Vitti can be found at FLOliving.com and the My FLO app. 

3)      Period Repair Manual: Natural Treatment for Better Hormones and Better Periods by Lara Briden ND: Written by a naturopathic doctor, this book breaks down the hormonal balance that occurs in woman’s bodies, and what happens when it is disrupted. Facing the, “Birth control band aid” most patients were dealing with, she created natural solutions and a means of creating body literacy. It’s a great companion alongside Woman Code.

What products do you use for that time of the month? Questions? Comments?

Earth Mama Organics - Organic Periodic Tea

Comment

Comment

Ecocentric Mom Box: A Review of Awesome Goodies and Who Should Subscribe

IMG_2353.PNG

While on a hunt for new gifts for the mamas in my life, I discovered Ecocentric Mom. It’s a subscription
service with a monthly box full of goodies for mom and little one (from birth to age five).
I gave it a try, and I was really happy with my first box. It was filled with tons of great products, all clean
ingredients and naturally based. Let me breakdown the goodies I received in this month’s box.
1) Tru You’re Mocha Me Cocoa Protein Shake. Chocolate is the key to my heart, so a quality
chocolate protein shake I can drink instead of a Chik-Fil-a milkshake is awesome. I’m trying to
eat less sugar, and this fits the bill perfectly. (Note: I blended this shake with coffee and ice, with
about a half cup of almond milk. Worked out nicely!)

Just give me all the chocolate.

Just give me all the chocolate.


2) Herbaland Protein Gummies. I love candy, but I need to cut sugar from my diet. These gummies are made with fruit juice and protein. My toddler wasn’t in to the taste, but that just means more for me. This may be a new staple item to keep in my doula bag.

IMG-2269.JPG


3) Bug Protector Mosquito and Tick sprays. These will be used all summer long. My family is big into hiking, so tick protection is a must, especially with Maryland being a hot zone for Lyme disease. Our front and back yard is heavily colonized by mosquitoes, despite a lack of standing water. The sprays are made with essential oils known to deter insects, but have a nice scent to them. They are kid and pet friendly, so you can even give your dog a few sprays to help ward off ticks.

IMG-2267.JPG


4) Ayr Skin Care Virgin Marula Oil. A light oil for face and hair, it doesn’t have a noticeable scent
that I could detect, but is great on my daughters thick curls and gives a light softness and shine
to my pixie length locks. Pressed from the nut of the Marula tree, a native plant of South Africa
and Mozambique, it’s used traditionally for cleansing the face, in the diet, and even preserving
leather. It’s a product I’ve never seen before, and would like to keep using. This will be a repeat
product for our family for sure. If you’d like to learn more about Ayr Skin Care, you can find them here.

Super soft hair, no frizz, and no chemicals.

Super soft hair, no frizz, and no chemicals.


5) Hyland for Kids Oral Pain Relief. When Hyland’s took their Teething Tablets off the market, I
cried. I’m not even kidding. This was the only product that helped my teething baby, and in a
snap of a finger they were sold out everywhere. I hoarded what precious tablets I had left, but
eventually we ran out. The next year and a half of teething was brutal for our household, and I
resorted to Motrin more often than I would have liked. Now they’ve released the Kids Oral Pain
Relief, and moms everywhere can rejoice (and possibly reclaim some sleep). It’s a different
formula from the teething tablets, but just as effective.

Hylands to the rescue!

Hylands to the rescue!


6) Effortless Art Crayons. Shaped in a chunky triangle with a grip, these crayons are meant to be
inclusive of children of all abilities and needs. My oldest tested them out for me, and was most
impressed by the shade of the red color crayon.  She's a crayon connoisseur.

My kids also enjoyed the confetti that came in the box for shipping. Fun for everyone!

My kids also enjoyed the confetti that came in the box for shipping. Fun for everyone!

 


The subscription service can be purchased with different moms in mind, with special gift sets for
pregnancy, mom care, and pregnancy-preschool.
Moms who could use monthly goodies:
 You!
 Your friend
 Your pregnant friend
 Your sister in law who is expecting, but doesn’t need another baby gift. Get something just for      her to enjoy!
 Any woman you know who could use some extra love.

Boxes are delivered monthly, and start at $32. Here’s your coupon code for $5 off!

Ecocentric Mom box

Comment

Comment

You Got This: What it should mean

“You’ve got this. Deep breath Mama!”

If you’ve ever been one of my clients, you’ve probably heard me say this. It’s something I say to remind my moms when labor begins to get tough, and it’s a matter of getting through one contraction at a time.

You got this. Now here are all the things I want to say... 

You got this. Now here are all the things I want to say... 

A simple phrase, a warm touch of reassurance, but it means a lot more to me when I really dig in to why I say it. When I'm trying to convey something stronger I often stumble over my words, trying to verbalize all the emotions that I cannot always express without getting tripped up and choked up.

All too often this phrase is getting used as a trite comforting gesture. It's become the proverbial knock on the shoulder, and "You stay chipper!" 

"You got this!" really means: 

  •        Let go of the nagging fears that are no longing serving you.
  •       You are so strong. I see it, and want you to feel it in your core.  
  •       This birthing thing… you’re rocking it!
  •       Dad, who is so unsure of what to do and think right now? Let her hold on to you. You’re a rock for her.
  •       Breastfeeding is hard sometimes, and it feels like you have a million new questions everyday. Ask them. Trust your gut if something feels off and you want another opinion.
  •       Parenthood is wild and hard. Don’t doubt your abilities to raise these little people. If you do, call a friend. Guaranteed they feel the same. Try again tomorrow.
  •        You may have only had two hours of sleep, and there’s a long day ahead of you. One step, one minute at a time.
  •       Sometimes postpartum hormones are really mean, and anxiety is a dirty rotten liar. Let's talk about how you're feeling. 
  • Going back to work after maternity/paternity leave is so hard. How are things going to be for our routine? How am I going to feel? Take it one day at a time, and bend when the wind blows. Be flexible where you can, and give yourself and your family all the grace you need during this season. 
You are so strong. I see it and want you to feel it in your very core..png

 

Deep breath.

 

You got this.

 

Earth Mama Organics

Comment

2 Comments

Natural Products for Pregnancy and Postpartum: Getting Clean Ingredients Without Going Broke

*This post contains affiliate links. 

clean products.png

When I was pregnant with my first daughter back in 2012, I was suddenly very aware of the chemicals around me. I was being exposed to a ton of different chemicals and fragrances, due to my job as a zookeeper and just from the typical household and bath products I had always used. 

Knowing I was pregnant and that our environment effects our growing baby, had me digging into alternative products. I needed to clean up my home and my own skin products, and I wanted to not kill my wallet in the process. 

Improving my home cleaning products was pretty simple, and I found a ton of help on Pinterest. I've found vinegar and baking soda can clean just about everything that a whole host of grocery store cleaners can, at a fraction of the cost. 

The challenge came to my own skin care and beauty products. What would work well? What will help my pregnant skin? What will keep working with changes in hormones from breastfeeding? I've compiled my favorite clean brands and their best products that I've discovered over the years. These companies have clean ingredients and can carry on into your routine through the years. 

1) Be Blends 

A local Maryland company, every ingredient is organic and some are even wild harvested. My favorite product is the facial skin set, which includes Be Cleansed oil cleanser, Rose Water Toner, and Be Restored Hydrating Facial Serum. The oil cleanser is a self-care treat, and it makes me look forward to washing my face before bed. (Typically I'm too lazy/tired to wash off my make-up at night.) Contrary to what you might think, your skin feels amazingly soft and not greasy. The Rose Water Toner is a great product for pregnant mamas experiencing dry, irritated skin. Follow it up with the Be Restored, and your skin is set. The serum is super hydrating and has healed some of the worst chapped skin I've had. (Thank you Maryland Winter.) Altogether the set is $48, and is a total steal. Bonus: you only need a small amount. My set has lasted for four months, and I still have a half bottle to spare! I made you a short video to show how oil cleansing works. (Sometimes your outfit accidently matches your friend's bathroom! ) 

For a growing mama belly, the Be Enriched Moisturizer is very nourishing, and is great for stretch marks and dry skin. 

Be Blends is working on a baby line of products, and will be opening a store front in Ellicott City soon. In the mean time, you can find them online at beblends.com 

For a full in-depth look at oil cleansing check out this article written by bloominginbedlam.com

2) The Naked Bee Body Butter

While I was pregnant with my second daughter in 2015, I discovered this body butter while browsing at the mall. With only a few preservatives to keep it from spoiling, its 98% organic and smells amazing with scents of Orange Blossom and Honey Coconut. It was perfect to slather on my belly and tired feet. Jars can range from $10-$15 depending on the retailer. 

3) Burt's Bees

From chapstick to sunscreen, Burt's Bees is probably the easiest to grab at a local grocery store with toddler in tow. Their products skip parafins and phthalates, and can be used by everyone in the family. A chapstick will set you back only $3, and the Mama Bee Pamper Set runs at $25. 

Run to your local Target, or you can shop here: burtsbees.com.

4) Lemongrass Spa

A pop-up spa company, Lemongrass has clean products with a variety of scents and essential oils. My favorite products are the facial sugar scrubs, and they come in pomegranate and charcoal. They run about $16, but will last you for months. They also have a variety of mineral makeup products. You can contact a representative for a pop-up party or shop products at lemongrassspa.com

Depositphotos_81515744_s-2015.jpg

5) Earth Mama Organics

One of my favorite companies, Earth Mama Organics recently underwent a branding change (you'll probably remember them as Earth Mama Angel Baby) . You can still find your favorite products; they'll have a new label and a simplified name. Everything is non-gmo verified, toxin-free, and they focus on helping mom's and babies feel their best. 

Earth Mama Organics carries a great line of belly oil, belly butter, chapstick, and deodorant. I adore their postpartum products, and no mama should be without the herbal perineal spray. It's heaven on stitches and hemorrhoids, and can double as facial toner when your bum is healed. They've added new castile based soaps and clean ingredient deodorants. It's a great place to get staple bath items for your household. Stock up and shop for your next baby shower gift here:

Earth Mama Angel Baby - Pregnancy

Since Earth Mama Organics such an awesome company, here is a 20% off discount on any regular order until June 30! Just enter code LivingHeartDoula at check out. 

 

What's your favorite natural product? Share with us in the comments! 

2 Comments