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When making the switch from commercial antiperspirants to Live Whole Be Free’s all natural, organic deodorant, I highly recommend starting with a 3-day tea tree oil detox to remove the toxins from your body. 

For three days, you wear only a drop of tea tree oil under each arm. You can purchase tea tree oil at any specialty grocery store BUT… I recommend buying therapeutic-grade from Young Living. This is the best of the best. You will reduce risk of skin irritations and other side effects this way, since Young Living oils are pure and unadulterated. Tea Tree Oil (called Melaleuca Alternifolia) can be used for a myriad of uses such as the ones below, but again, I would only use YL’s oils for such uses. (Use this link to sign up as a YL distributor and receive wholesale pricing. My ID# is 1563299).

Uses for Melaleuca (Tea Tree Oil) 

  • Analgesic
  • Antibacterial
  • Antifungal
  • Anti-infectious
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Antioxidant
  • Antiparasitic
  • Antiseptic
  • Antiviral
  • Decongestant
  • Digestive
  • Expectorant
  • Immune stimulant
  • Insecticidal
  • Neurotonic
  • Stimulant
  • Tissue regenerative

The three day detox period allows your body rid itself toxins like aluminum zirconium, the icky chemical found in commercial antiperspirants which has been linked to all sorts of issues. You’ll also want to exercise and sweat those toxins out! Don’t sit home all day under the air conditioning trying to avoid getting stinky. The more you sweat, the better! Those first few days—you might smell a bit, but it’s worth it. If you’re concerned about it, do it over the weekend, making Saturday and Sunday the first two days. By Monday, you’ll be much better off. After three days wearing just tea tree oil, you will be ready to start wearing the organic deodorant. Again, the detox is NOT required, it is just helpful. Plenty of people use this product with great success without having done the detox.

To purchase Live Whole Be Free’s all-natural, organic deodorants, visit Live Whole Be Free’s Etsy Shop!

Peace, love and toxin-free bodies!

Melissa

Ahhh, just the name itself calms my nerves. So what is Peace & Calming you ask? About six months ago, I was asking that very same question.

In short, Peace & Calming is a Godsend for those suffering from stress, anxiety, depression and/or tension that want natural ways to relieve these symptoms. Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting 40 million adults in the United States age 18 and older (18.1% of U.S. population). Essential oils help to alleviate any sort of emotional issues one may be going through. They are unlike any anti-depressant today. EOs work by bringing refreshment and balance to the limbic center of the brain, which controls emotion, reasoning and smell.

I was first introduced to the therapeutic qualities of essential oils through my midwife and doula. They both recommended P&C to me after the birth of my son to help relieve depression and anxiety. I wasn’t sure what it was at the time. In fact I had no idea it was something that needed to be ordered, that I couldn’t just walk into a grocery store and get it. I also had no idea how well it was going to work. I only wish I had ordered it sooner!

Peace & Calming is an oil blend created by Young Living to help individuals deal with various problems related to the nervous system and emotional balance. This blend has historically been used to help reduce depression, anxiety, stress and tension. P&C may be useful at the end of a stressful day to calm nerves and emotions, promote relaxation or to relieve insomnia. By helping the body relax, more blood is able to circulate to the brain, allowing goals and dreams to be visualized more vividly and accurately. It has also been stated that this blend may help hyperactive children get off Ritalin and may also help children with hypertension.

Peace & Calming can be diffused in the air or applied topically. Apply Peace & Calming topically under the nose, to the navel, on the back of the neck, wrists, back (diluted), and on the feet. It can also be worn as a perfume or cologne. When I first started using P&C, I would carry it with me and inhale it from the bottle during times of increased anxiety. I also created a new deodorant from it, making it a part of a new premium line I’m now offering on Etsy. Having it in the deodorant is great because it makes me feel like that stress reduction is “with me” all day long. It feels as though I’ve got a force field around me, helping protect me from anxiety! I also apply this to the bottoms of my feet (I apply it diluted) before bedtime. I get a much more restful night’s sleep after an application, with an occasional side serving of some wacky dreams!

Safety Data
Avoid exposure to direct sunlight for 3 to 6 hours after use, as this blend may cause increased photosensitivity.

Companion Oils
Lavender (for insomnia), chamomile (for calming)

Additional Top Oils Helpful for:
Depression: Lemon, Frankincense, Lavender, Joy, Bergamot, Valor, Ylang, Ylang, Rosemary, Rosewood, Tangerine, Grapefruit, Hope, Jasmine, Neroli, Sage, Sensation, Valor
Anxiety: Lavender, Orange, Lemon, Roman Chamomile, Valerian, Melissa, Copaiba, Ylang Ylang
Panic: Lavender, Roman Chamomile, Ylang Ylang, Awaken, Bergamot
Stress: Lavender, Ylang Ylang, Stress Away, Tranquil, Bergamot, Lemon, Common Sense
Tension: Cedarwood, Stress Away, Lavender, Ylang Ylang, Traquil

Frequency
Emotional; approximately 105 MHz

Single Oils Contained in This Blend

Tangerine
Contains esters and aldehydes, which are sedating and calming to the nervous system. It is also a diuretic and a decongestant of the lymphatic system.

Orange
Brings peace and happiness to the mind and body and joy to the heart, which feelings provide emotional support to help one overcome depression.

Ylang Ylang
May help balance the male-female energies so one can move closer towards being in spiritual atonement and be able to focus their thoughts, filtering out the ever-present garbage. It brings back feelings of self-love, confidence, joy and peace.

Patchouli
This oil is sedating, calming and relaxing, allowing it to reduce anxiety.

Blue Tansy
May help cleanse the liver and calm the lymphatic system.

You can order Peace & Calming directly from Young Living. Anyone can order it, but you’ll need my sponsor/enroller ID in order to process your order. My ID is 1563299. If you want to take advantage of wholesale prices, you can become a distributor (no obligations to sell, it’s like a Costco membership) or if you’re local, I’m happy to place the order for you using my account and you can pick up from me.

Peace, love and…more PEACE!

Melissa

 

* This the posts in this blog were written to provide information to help educate readers in regards to the subject matter they contain. The author is not liable for the misconception or misuse of the information provided. It is not provided in order to diagnose, prescribe, or treat any disease, illness or injured condition of the body. The author shall have neither liability nor responsibility to any person or entity with respect to any loss, damage, or injury caused or alleged to be caused directly or indirectly by the information contained in any of the blog posts. The information presented herein is in no way intended as a substitute for medical counseling. Anyone suffering from any disease, illness, or injury should consult a qualified health care professional.

 

You know the feeling. The mildly sore throat that quickly takes a turn for the worst and leaves you feeling like your swallowing knives? Or the sinus headache or flu bug that so kindly paid you a visit? Here are some natural remedies to help get you back on your feet!

Bacteria-Killing Garlic ACV Tea

Heat water on stove (or in microwave). Transfer hot water to mug, then add the following:

  • The juice of 1/4-1/2 organic lemon
  • 1/2 clove of raw garlic—grate it straight into the mug
  • A few squirts of raw, local honey (sorry, I’m not a huge fan of measuring so these are all approximate)
  • A little bit of organic apple cider vinegar (ACV)—probably approximately 2 Tablespoons
  • A pinch of cayenne pepper
Drink this as often as you can stomach it. I was drinking it once every hour or so, because it felt so great on my throat!

Raw garlic is an excellent natural antibiotic. It’s actually INCREDIBLY strong as well. The combination of ingredients doesn’t sound so appetizing but honestly…it wasn’t that bad. And heck, when you get to the point where you will try anything to feel better, it’s really quite delicious! The garlic and honey cut the ACV so it’s not as pungent. Just make sure you brush your teeth before you go kissing anybody. Not that you’re kissing people with strep throat. At least I hope you’re not. Drink this as often as you can stomach it. Works best at the onset of symptoms. I drank it every hour for about 4-5 hours during my last bout with strep.

There are several other things you can do to aid in a speedy recovery. Again, it’s recommended that you start this protocol as soon as you feel these symptoms coming on, instead of waiting until it’s the full-blown plague.

My Natural Remedies*

  • Drink a lot awesome Garlic ACV Tea (recipe above)
  • Apply Thieves essential oil to the bottoms of my feet several times a day, and diffused it throughout the house. Young Living brand only.
  • I personally take the following supplements when I am ill:
  • Take hot epsom salt baths to relieve the body aches
  • Sleep a LOT. It’s a proven fact that your body needs a lot of extra rest when it is fighting an illness. These days we are so accustomed to getting antibiotics and steroids as a “quick fix”, and it’s not right.
  • Drink a lot of water and take care of yourself the way you should.

It sounds like a lot of supplements but to be honest, these are things I keep in my supplement cabinet on a regular basis, so I didn’t have to go out and buy anything special. Except a LOT more garlic than we had on hand!

Peace, love and NATURAL remedies,
Melissa
* Please note that I am not a doctor. This is just what personally works for me. You should always consult your functional medicine specialist or holistic practitioner. If you have a regular general practitioner they will look at you like you’re crazy for mentioning most of what I wrote about above. And then they’ll probably give you an antibiotic. Do your homework, ask if you really need the antibiotic. If you do, take it. If you do not, well, you get my point.  

Rewind to about 8 years ago, and I’m not sure I would have known what you were talking about if you mentioned essential oils to me. At that time I was lathering my skin in scented lotions and my hair in scented products, burning candles throughout the house, you name it. I started to become more conscious of what I was putting on my skin several years ago, when a shampoo I was using suddenly caused me to breakout in hives. The hives covered my face and neck and it was weeks before it finally cleared up. I discontinued the use of that shampoo, and started to try to figure out what could have caused the reaction.

I started to research the effects things like synthetic fragrances, phthalates, parabens, etc. have on the body. With that knowledge, I could no longer bring myself to lather my body’s largest organ—the skin—in toxins. Everything you put onto your skin, toxic or not, gets absorbed into the bloodstream. Eek! So for me, that meant no more scented lotions, no more perfume, no more crazy scented hair products. Nothing. I also stopped burning candles in the house because they made my eyes red, itchy and watery.

My allergies and overall health definitely improved after I cut out the toxic, synthetic fragrances. Although I had a boring-smelling house since everything I was using at that point was of the unscented variety, I went on my merry way. That is until a couple of years ago, when I mentioned to my natural doctor that I had recently been slurring words when speaking and missing letters when writing. He immediately asked if the antiperspirant I used contained Aluminum Zirconium and a couple other things. I had absolutely no idea. I went home, checked the label, and sure enough, the “bad” things he mentioned were on there. I did more research and found out that aluminum zirconium and several other ingredients in antiperspirants have been linked to some pretty nasty illnesses/diseases. I immediately stopped using the antiperspirant and—long story short—began making and selling my own natural deodorant.

As I started tweaking my deodorant recipe to find perfection, I began experimenting with essential oils. I had no idea at the time what a huge role they would play in my life. What started out as a fun way to scent my deodorants, has now resulted in creating deodorants with healing powers! Who would have known?!

Not only am I now using pure, therapeutic-grade essential oils in my deodorant line, but I use them instead of prescription medications to help control my asthma, anxiety and depression. I use them on my 5-month old to help resolve fussiness, congestion and coughs, as well as for diaper rash prevention. I have also begun using them in place of toxic household cleaning products which is incredibly important to me especially with a little one about to start crawling on the floor! And I can’t forget to mention that I’ve finally found something to help “scent” my house that won’t kill me! Goodbye “Glade Plug-Ins”!  Did you know that those things are filled with formaldehyde—the biggest chemical carcinogen that we know of? Did you know the formaldehyde in there actually deadens your olfactory nerves? That’s why you stop smelling it after a while and have to switch scents! Terrible!

There are so many more uses for essential oils, I am so excited to explore the myriad of possibilities of what EOs can do for myself, my family and my friends! Expect more info coming your way soon, and if you’re interested in purchasing pure, therapeutic-grade essential oils, I do so through Young Living. Feel free to message me for more information, but the best way to experience EOs is to purchase the Premium Starter Kit, which gets you a TON of oils as well as the diffuser, which is muy importante, for a super awesome price.

Peace, love and essential oils,

Melissa

YL Distributor #1563299

If you are into this “crunchy” stuff, you’ve probably heard essential oils come up in conversation. If you’re not sure what they are, get ready because your mind is about to be blown! The healing power and versatility of EOs is absolutely astounding. I only wish I had known about them sooner!

Essential oils are concentrated, natural, aromatic liquids extracted from shrubs, flowers, trees, roots, bark, fruit, bushes and seeds. Plants depend on essential oils to grow, evolve and adapt to their surroundings. They also play an important role in defending against insects, disease and harsh environmental conditions. Pure, unadulterated essential oils have many potential benefits and are used daily to enhance the lives of millions. They have also been around forever. Essential oils were mankind’s first medicine. From Egyptian hieroglyphics and Chinese manuscripts, we know that priests and physicians have been using essential oils for thousands of years. In fact, there are 188 references to essential oils in the Bible. Oils such as frankincense, myrrh, rosemary, hyssop and spikenard were used for anointing and healing the sick.

How are essential oils used?

Essential oils have many uses. Whether you want to fill your home with safe, purifying products, strengthen your health and/or physical wellness, improve your emotional balance or enhance your natural beauty, essential oils are the natural way to go! EOs can be used in place of medications and in beauty and cleaning products, instead of other toxic, over-the-counter options. I personally have used them on myself to help with depression and anxiety, sinus and allergy issues, asthma, restlessness, skin issues, to help build immunity and to clean the house! I have even used them on my son as young as 2 months old to help him breathe better and get drainage during a terrible cough and congestion, to help him build immunity and to help calm him when he’s teething and just generally fussy.

You can use essential oils by smelling then directly (inhalation), applying them to the skin (topical application) or taking them internally (internal consumption). Safety guidelines should be carefully reviewed for each essential oil you plan to use, especially if you plan on ingesting them! Not all oils are safe for ingestion and some need to applied with a carrier oil before applying to the skin. There are also special considerations for those that are nursing and/or pregnant. Consult a health care professional prior to ingesting essential oils. Also, it is very important that you use only high-quality, pure, therapeutic-grade essential oils.

Why should you buy only high-quality, pure, therapeutic-grade essential oils?

The short answer: because oils that are made cheaply could have adverse effects on you. That’s reason enough for me! So how do you know if something is pure or not? Do your homework and buy from a trusted resource. One of the factors that determines the purity and therapeutic value of an oil is its chemical constituents. These constituents can be affected by a vast number of variables including: the part(s) of the plant from which the oil was produced, soil condition, fertilizer (organic or chemical), geographical region, climate, altitude, harvest season and methods and distillation process. When oils are purchased for the perfume industry (not for therapeutic uses), they are produced as cheaply and quickly as possible to produce the greatest quantity. This means high pressure, high temperatures, rapid processing and the use of chemical solvents are often employed during the distillation process. The oils may smell the same and will cost less, but they will lack most, if not all, of the chemical constituents necessary to produce the expected therapeutic results. The oils I purchase and use are only pure, therapeutic-grade essential oils.

How do I get some of this stuff?!

I purchase my oils through Young Living. I have researched them and trust them when it comes to my family’s health and wellness. There are plenty of people out there who claim one company is better than the other, and everyone has their opinions. In the end, I trust YL and purchase my products through them. You can go to their website and become a member to order directly by using my distributor ID: 1563299.

You can also look forward to a new line of premium deodorants in my Etsy shop, the first one in this line will launch this week and will be…drumroll please…Peace & Calming! Peace & Calming is formulated to help release tension and promotes a deep sense of peace and emotional wellbeing. Can I get a heck yeah?!

Essential oils have truly changed my life. I’m so happy to have so many options to help my family and I live happier, healthier lives. I will be posting much more about essential oils in the near future, so please stay tuned. Expect to see posts containing information about the in-depth benefits of EOs, application of EOs, treatment for certain ailments such as asthma, depression/anxiety, eczema, allergies, natural homemade cleaning products, beauty products, baby products and of course, EO success stories!

You, Me, and EOs

If you have a success story you would like to share, please email me, I would love to feature you! melissa{at}livewholebefree.com. Also, if you live near me, I am going to host an oily party in the next few weeks. Let me know if you would like to be added to the guest list! We can discuss EOs more in-depth and well, it’s a great reason to get together and have a party!

Peace, love and EOs,

Melissa

Oh my goodness…guess who’s teething?! Yes, our little bundle of joy has just about every tooth possible coming in at once. Between the teething and the virus he picked up, he’s been a mess and consequently, so is Mom. But that’s another story.

As far as the teething goes, I have been lucky to talk to some very smart, natural people about how to handle this. There’s also some great information online, if you can sort through the mess of information (some true and some not) on the internet. Here is an article I found extremely helpful as I matched my son’s symptoms with the appropriate homeopathic remedy. Mommypotamous also has some great information on the subject. It is very important to watch your baby’s symptoms and to use the appropriate remedy for the best chance of success.

Dosage For Homeopathic Remedies:

Select the remedy that most closely matches the symptoms. In conditions where self-treatment is appropriate, unless otherwise directed by a physician, a lower potency (6X, 6C, 12X, 12C, 30X, or 30C) should be used. In addition, instructions for use are usually printed on the label.

Many homeopathic physicians suggest that remedies be used as follows: Take one dose and wait for a response. If improvement is seen, continue to wait and let the remedy work. If improvement lags significantly or has clearly stopped, another dose may be taken. The frequency of dosage varies with the condition and the individual. Sometimes a dose may be required several times an hour; other times a dose may be indicated several times a day; and in some situations, one dose per day (or less) can be sufficient.

If no response is seen within a reasonable amount of time, select a different remedy.

Truestar Health

So far Hyland’s teething tablets have not worked, but Camilia has worked like a charm! I am also experimenting with Pulsatilla and a homemade remedy made with Clove Bud Oil. I will keep you updated on what works best via the Facebook page.

Baltic Amber Necklaces

I also picked up an amber necklace for him. Baltic amber is a natural analgesic (pain reliever) that can have a soothing and calming effect on teething babies and toddlers. When amber is worn on the skin, (the necklace is not meant to be chewed), the skin’s warmth releases small amounts of succinic acid from the amber which are then absorbed into the bloodstream. (Note: consider for a moment the various soaps, lotions and fragrances you put on your skin. Toxins from the beauty products you put on your skin also make their way into your bloodstream). Amber’s anti-inflammatory and therapeutic properties are also recognized by allopathic medicine.

I picked up our amber necklace from The Nappy Shoppe in Plano, Texas, but you can also find them online. Be sure to buy your amber from a reputable source, as the amber must be real amber to work as explained above. Raw, unpolished, light amber is supposed to work the best, but be sure that the necklace you get for your child is safety knotted! Try searching “The Art of Cure” on Amazon.com if you prefer to purchase online.

Amber also has many benefits for adults as well. Natural healing amber necklaces can relieve pain in the head, neck and throat areas, and are good for congestion. They are also highly effective for controlling the pain of rheumatism, arthritis, and aching muscles and joints. Baltic amber is an anti-anxiety remedy that rids fatigue and weariness, fights chronic inflammation and restores energy. So of course,I had to try it for myself! Stay tuned for how that’s working for me.

Be sure that the amber necklace is in contact with your child’s skin. Also, the necklace should not be worn while sleeping. Instead, double wrap the necklace around the ankle. I alternate ankles each night.

What have you used to help your teething child deal with side effects of teething?

Peace, love and homeopathy,

Melissa

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor. Please contact your doctor (preferably a Functional Medicine Specialist or Homeopath) for instructions on how to treat your child. The post above is just my personal opinion on the matter.

 

Being a new mom, I’m terrified of many things, mostly of things I can’t control. That’s why when it comes to things that I CAN control, I’m taking extra care to be sure I give my son the very best. This leads me to a discussion on diaper rash. Prior to our baby’s birth, I researched all I could on remedies to prevent and—if necessary—treat diaper rash.

Here’s what I’ve done so far. Please note that I am by no means an expert—I’ve only been a mom for 4 weeks. But so far, this is working for our baby! UPDATE: Our little one is 11 months now, and this process/products below are still our GOLD standard in diaper rash prevention/treatment!

The Process:

Most importantly, change the diaper regularly. We are currently using Earth’s Best Diapers. (Update 8/2014: We switched to Honest diapers during the day, and cloth overnight). As soon as the diaper is wet, be sure to change it. There’s nothing bacteria like more than a warm, wet environment! Also, use all-natural laundry detergent, natural diapers and natural wipes to avoid allergic reactions. Organic clothing on newborns is also helpful.

  1. Wipe down baby with Earth’s Best Wipes. This removes stool and urine that can contain substances like bacteria, yeast, parasites and other toxins that can cause diaper rash.
  2. Wipe down baby with water using a wet washcloth (we’re currently using GroVia wipes).
  3. Pat dry with a dry washcloth.
  4. From this point, I’ve been alternating treatments. I alternate between just putting him in a diaper, with no special “treatments”, using an Organic Coconut/Arrowroot Powder mix and using an Organic Oil Treatment. The Organic Oil Treatment should only be used every 3 diaper changes (or 2-3x a day), and the Powder Treatment should be used whenever you feel necessary, especially when there is moisture present.

Organic Coconut/Arrowroot Powder

First and foremost, this powder does NOT contain talc, which is a common carcinogen and has been proven dangerous to a child’s lungs. I apply it by shaking a small amount into the diaper, then spreading it across the diaper with clean hands. I apply the powder to the diaper away from my baby’s face so that he does not inhale any of the powder. The ingredients in the powder have anti-microbial properties and help absorb moisture. You can easily make your own powder mix at home, or you can purchase it online. Check Amazon for cheaper prices. If baby experiences a reaction, discontinue use.

Organic Oil Treatment

The oils moisturize baby’s skin as well as protect and disinfect without disrupting the skin’s natural protective properties. I have used this since my son was born for diaper rash prevention AND treatment! Buy online from my Etsy shop! 

Baking Soda Bath

To help neutralize acidity of diarrhea/diaper rash on baby’s skin, pour baking soda in a warm bath and have baby soak in it. Works wonders!

 

Peace, love and healthy baby skin,

Melissa

 

As I sit down to write this, my sweet baby boy is 5 days old (posting at 3 weeks). It has taken me this long to be able to process and come to terms with everything that happened during the last few days of my pregnancy, labor and delivery and the first few days postpartum. Now that I have, I want to share that journey with you, in hopes that I can help other Mommas and Mommas-to-be.

When my husband and I found out we were pregnant, I was dead-set on having an epidural during labor. After a tailbone injury many years ago and a spine doctor telling me it was going to break again during labor, I hadn’t really given it a second thought. That and labor terrified me, so if I had the choice of whether or not I could experience it with less pain, I was going to opt for less pain. Or so I thought.

The Bradley Method

My LWBF partner in crime, Holly Alexander, had highly recommended my husband and I take the Bradley Method childbirth classes. Bradley Method classes are also known as Husband-Coached Childbirth classes and focus on natural childbirth. I spent a few months debating on whether or not to take the classes, because I knew that if I did, I would end up wanting to go natural. After much discussion—and a conversation with the instructor where I explained that me taking these classes was in no way me committing to actually going sans epidural in the end—we ended up deciding to go forward with them. I knew that they would teach us what I would experience during labor and delivery, and being so health-conscious and Type A, it was important to me that I know what was happening to my body in order to best handle the situation.

We went to our first class, and it was awful. I cried the entire way home. It was overwhelming and uncomfortable. The lady’s house smelled like cat pee. I couldn’t breathe. When the instructor asked the class (approximately 8 couples) who was going to go natural, every woman raised their hand. Except for me. I talked to a coworker whose wife was a Bradley Instructor for years. He strongly encouraged me to find a different instructor, one that would be a better fit for me. Now in panic mode because most classes were full, I called an instructor closer to our home and during a time slot that was a better fit for us too. She had one opening.

We went to our first class and it was a completely different experience. It was fantastic. The instructor was personable, down to earth, and also happened to be a Group X instructor, so we immediately had things in common. The other couples in the class were warm and welcoming. This was a much better fit.

The Process

When we discovered I had a bun in the oven, I was actually without an OB-GYN. I had fired my last one because he rudely told me that I probably wouldn’t be able to conceive without medical intervention. You can read that story here. So I called friends, got recommendations and interviewed SEVERAL doctors trying to find the right one. I ended up switching care providers twice before finally deciding on who would deliver our baby. Or so I thought. (Are you seeing the pattern here?)

In the Bradley Method classes, many topics are covered, some of which discuss the chain of events (also referred to as the domino effect) that tend to occur when delivering at a hospital. There are so many rules, regulations, hand-tying and other things that happen in hospitals that make having a natural childbirth there nearly impossible. Typically, once you get to the hospital, you’re on the clock. Not progressing fast enough or Doctors are ready for shift change? You get pitocin. Got pitocin? Well, in a hospital they don’t start you on a slow drip, they’ll crank your dosage up to get you contracting and get that baby out. Good luck enduring that sans epidural. So now you have an epidural. But wait, they’ll need to insert a catheter first. un-anesthetized. Baby is posterior? You get a c-section. Oh did you want a say in this? Sorry about your luck.

All this sounded awful to me, and I wanted no part of it. The problem is, if you ask your care provider if they are “okay” with you going natural, they will probably tell you that they are. What happens in the delivery room, however, is another story. I was so appalled by the lip service I got when talking to care providers. It wasn’t until I dove much deeper that I found out that the likelihood of my care provider being on board with me going natural was slim to none. So it was time to switch care providers AGAIN. I was now 7 months pregnant and again, in panic mode. Fortunately, my doula (a doula is a birth coach, also our Bradley instructor), pointed me in the direction of a midwife. Midwives believe that pregnancy and birth are normal life processes and they seek to eliminate or minimize unnecessary interventions. Well, shoot, this is right up my alley!

The Birth Plan

My husband and I met with the recommended midwife and she was fabulous. We were perfectly happy with her and felt confident in our decision. She also had two doctors who backed her up, should anything “go wrong” and she had privileges to deliver at a natural-friendly hospital, which we wanted. Despite the risks we were taking delivering at a hospital (domino effect of medical interventions), this was our first birth, and we didn’t feel comfortable at a birthing center, which is where most midwives deliver. The hospital we selected was unlike others in that they are very “natural-friendly”, so we felt confident that our birth plan would be followed barring any medical emergencies.

During one Bradley class, we all created a generalized birth plan. We had little yellow strips of laminated paper that each had a short phrase on it. Things like “the use of pitocin”, “use of forceps/vacuum” and “access to water” were all things that were discussed, and we ranked them in order from most to least important. Our class’ birth plan looked something like this.  It was strange discussing the order of things like the use of pitocin because I knew I REALLY didn’t want that, I just assumed I wouldn’t have to cross that bridge. My husband and I then went home and wrote up our own birth plan that we would share with our midwife and the nurse staff at the hospital. It looked something like this:

Melissa Villamizar Birth Plan

Thank you so much for your help with the birth of our first child! We are extremely grateful! Please direct all questions to my husband, Juan, so that I can focus solely on my labor.

Before/During Birth:
• Water Birth—Would like access to the tub.

• No intervention—Would like a drug-free birth, please do not offer me pain medication. I would like to progress naturally, without the use of pitocin.

• No mention of visitors—Visitors will be welcome a few hours after birth so that we may bond with our new child.

• No separation—At least Juan or Melissa with baby at all times.

• Delay cord clamping

• Dark/dimly lit and quiet room—Please refrain from conversation.

• Bath—Use patient’s bath products on baby, be cautious of eyes, product is NOT tear-free.

• Save Placenta—We will be having a funeral home pick up our placenta, as we would like to encapsulate it.

After Birth:
• Minimal interruption—from nurse staff and visitors. Only enter room when Melissa is awake.

For Baby:
• No Vitamin K, No Hep B, No Circumcision

Thank you all so very much! 🙂

 

Ready For Baby

We had everything ready to go by about 37/38 weeks. The birth plan was complete, bags were packed, we had been practicing our relaxation techniques as much as possible, etc. I was ready for the baby…sort of. A baby’s normal gestation period is anywhere from 37-42 weeks. I hadn’t really thought about carrying to 42 weeks, I figured our perfect little angel would come at or around his due date. Our midwife estimated that would be the case, so we had no reason to think otherwise. I was quite disappointed when my estimated due date, August 27th, came and went. But hey, that’s okay—first time moms tend to carry until 41 weeks. Especially those with boys. Then 41 weeks come and went. Once again, I’m entering panic mode.

My midwife would only let me carry until 42 weeks. At this point, I was scheduled for an induction at 5am on September 10th. An induction. With the use of PITOCIN. I had devoted so much time and energy to these Bradley Classes and to preparing myself mentally and physically for a natural labor. To think that I might be robbed of the opportunity to experience spontaneous labor and a natural childbirth was making me sick to my stomach. I had a healthy pregnancy. I have a healthy baby. What is wrong with my body? I had a meltdown on Saturday afternoon. This wasn’t fair. Why is this happening to me? I cried to my husband and told him that at this point I couldn’t remain positive that our son would come prior to the induction date. Mentally, I needed to start shifting my mindset and preparing myself for the induction. I needed to be okay with the way my baby was going to enter this world, and this shift in thinking was going to take a lot of work.

Where is This Baby?

I tried everything possible to induce labor. On Saturday afternoon I saw a massage therapist for a CST massage (cranial sacral therapy). She was totally awesome and a little strange, making it even better. She had seen me for all of 20 seconds before asking me if I had ever had an injury to my sacrum. Crap. She did some feeling around, some energy work, etc. and spoke to the baby a bit. She said the baby is having trouble engaging because my tailbone was in the way. As weird as all of it was, I believed every word. I tried not to stress. She moved my tailbone with firm pressure, and I could feel the baby snuggle down lower and begin to engage, which was pretty cool. It was a great session but unfortunately, by Sunday, my tailbone had shifted back to it’s incorrect position and the baby was once again posterior. Ugh. Sunday I went for my second round of acupuncture, which went well. The acupuncturist told me it was a great session, that my body was much more open and receptive to the treatment. He felt the baby was ready and that I was right around the corner. However, I didn’t get too excited, as I had been hearing this for weeks now.

I took a bath that night, the first bath the entire pregnancy. I lit some candles and I prayed. I knew that God had a plan for me and for the baby’s arrival, I just didn’t know what it was. I told him that whatever the plan was, I was okay with it, and I trusted that he would bring the baby here safely. I went to bed in tears, clutching one of my old stuffed animals and one of the baby’s onesies.

Is This It?

After everything we tried to induce labor, I think all God and the baby really needed me to do was let go. I woke up at 2:15am Monday morning with what felt like terrible menstrual cramps. Was this it? I attempted to go back to sleep, but it was impossible. I knew it had the potential to be a long day, so I grabbed a banana to help get my energy up. I waited a few hours and texted my doula and midwife. The midwife was not going to be able to make the birth due to a family emergency. I wasn’t panicking, but my doula expressed her concern. She asked me about getting a back up midwife to do the delivery instead of the back up doctors. I wasn’t really sure how to handle the situation, so I didn’t do anything. I was really focused on the strong contractions I was having. Knowing my husband would need as much sleep as possible, I waited a few more hours until my his alarm went off. I walked into the bedroom and let him know he wasn’t going to make it to work today. Gosh I’ve been waiting for this moment for so long—to be able to tell him I was in labor! Needless to say, he was excited!

And So It Begins…

The contractions started off lasting about 45 seconds with 5-7 minutes in between them. They quickly jumped to 2 minutes apart, or anytime I tried to change positions. By 8:30am, I started throwing up (I never vomit, so this was a huge indication that this was for real), and we decided it was time to go to the hospital. My doula met us there, and assumed I was in transition. I figured I was too. Sadly, I was only dilated to a 1.5. Oh dear, this is going to be a LONG day (and night…)!

I believe I was on all fours on the hospital bed when one of the back up doctors came into the room. I think I scared him. He mentioned to my birth team that I was definitely a “midwife’s patient” and that he was going to call in a back up midwife for me. THANK HEAVENS. The back-up midwife was truly the most amazing midwife ever. I felt very blessed. Everything does happen for a reason!

My Sneaky Birth Team

I labored in and out of the tub (a small indoor pool looking thing that was set up for a water birth), in various positions and places throughout the hospital. Nothing was providing any relief at all. I was having terrible back pain and it was absolutely unbearable. I think it was about 2 pm when I asked for an epidural. I couldn’t believe I was asking for it, but I also knew I couldn’t continue like this. This pain was unimaginable and I just couldn’t fathom it getting any worse and actually pushing a child out. My birth team put me off, asking me if I could go another 20 minutes. I said yes, and it turned into an hour. We repeated this for several hours. However, a few hours later, I was deadly serious when asking for the epidural. I was in so much pain I would have rather have been dead. At this point this whole birth thing meant nothing to me any more and I just wanted it to be over. I was so severely dehydrated, in so much pain and so defeated, that I just didn’t care. Please give me the epidural. My birth team said I would need two bags of IV fluids prior to the epidural. Fine, hook me up, let’s go.

My oh-so-tricky birth team apparently set the IV drip to the slowest possible setting. It took hours to get two bags of fluids in me. I found out later that they could have given them to me in as little as 20 minutes, but again, were trying to stall me from getting the epidural. Have I mentioned yet what a fantastic team I had? Even if I didn’t feel that way at the time. Thankfully, I didn’t have enough energy to put up a real fight, so they got their way. I was on only a few hours of sleep, no food (so much for that banana) and we’re 15 hours into labor with a posterior baby who is not at all interested in making his grand entrance into this world.

My Husband, My Rock

The IV finally finishes and I ask again for the epidural. Each time I ask for it, they look at my husband to make the final call. Thank God he knows me so well. He knew that I was serious in asking for it, but that deep down that’s not what I really wanted. I am so incredibly proud of him for being able to do this and to be by my side this entire time. I couldn’t have done this without him. Still asking for the epidural, they tell me the anesthesiologist is stuck in traffic. Seriously? Fine. But let’s discuss other options because I cannot go on like this. They say they can give me a low dose of pain meds to take the edge off, or I can wait for the epidural. As natural and anti-medicine as I am, it was tough for me to decide that I wanted pain meds at that point. Luckily they would wear off before the baby’s arrival, and this was one of those cases where the benefits outweighed the risks. I decided to go for it. It was a good thing I did.

I ended up taking a 3 hour nap, waking up for the contractions and falling back to sleep. During some of the contractions, my midwife would shake my hips back and forth trying to get the baby down. Talk about painful! Eventually, the pain meds wore off and once again I was back to asking for the epidural. The team kept telling me the pain meds needed to wear off and I kept asking. My doula finally looked me in the eyes and said, “Melissa, if you get an epidural, they will catheterize you. They will likely need to use pitocin since the epidural will slow things down. Do you still want an epidural?” I reply, “Can they give me the epidural before they cath me?” My doula: “You don’t get a choice, it’s whoever shows up first.” Having had a catheter once, about 25 years ago and being scarred for life, I knew I did not want a catheter. Fine. No epidural. This sucks.

Time For Some Exercise

After the nap, the team got me up and wanted me to walk laps around the hospital to help use gravity to get things moving again. Walking through contractions = not fun. I was complaining about how much my back hurt during our super fun walk, when my doula looked at me and asked me why my back hurt. Confused, I answered, “Um, because of my baby?” She told me to start repeating “that’s my baby” instead of “my back hurts.” Apparently shifting my focus on something positive, like my almost-born child, was instrumental in my labor progress. I walked for about an hour before I tell them I will walk no more. We get back to the room and we check my dilation progress. I’m at a 6.

The team has me in various positions, and finally while squatting, some of my water breaks. (My apologies if this is too much information. If that’s the case you should have stopped reading a while ago!) In an effort not to alarm me, the birth team hides the fact that there is meconium present when the first bag of water breaks. The team kicks it into high gear to get this baby out. I get checked again and I’m at an 8, with a really soft cervix. The midwife asks if I mind if she manually breaks my second bag of water and dilates me to a 10. I couldn’t care less what she does at this point, please let’s just end this! I get to a 10 and they want me to change positions again. We head to the bathroom, which I’m dreading, because my contractions seem so much more painful when I’m in there! I’m sitting on the toilet and pushing with everything I’ve got. It’s so scary, because you’re being coached to push as hard as you can, but it hurts, and you’re scared about how much more it is going to hurt. They tell me it won’t hurt anymore, and I admit they were right. At some point you just “max out” on pain! I’m pushing for what seems like forever, I don’t understand why this baby hasn’t arrived yet. So many people filled my head with unrealistic expectations the entire pregnancy, one of which was “you’re so fit, you’re only going to have to push twice and he’ll be out!”. Um, yeah, for the record, that’s total crap. Being fit has nothing to do with how many times you’re going to have to push until your baby arrives. Especially a POSTERIOR baby with an inverted/deviated tailbone in the way. I’m pushing with everything I have, trying to remember that I stayed fit during pregnancy and that should pay off at some point, but I’m nervous, wondering how much longer I will have to push, because I don’t have much or any fuel left in the tank.

This Is Finally It

I kept asking my birth team how much longer this would take (as if they knew). My Type A personality needed some sort of tool to measure this whole process by. They keep telling me “I’m close.” After what I’ve experienced the last 22 hours, I don’t believe anything they say at this point. They are pretty intent on me getting this baby out quickly, and I hear someone mention that they’re going to call NICU. I try to stay focused but can’t comprehend why they would have to call the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit in! What’s wrong with my baby?! They tell me that there’s meconium present, so when I push him out, they’re going to have to cut the cord right away and take him so that they can suction the meconium out of his lungs, ears, etc. That makes me want to cry but I have no energy or fluids for that matter, to even produce tears at this point.

My husband had been holding me from behind, so he came around the front side of me to watch our son being born. It wasn’t until I was able to see my husband’s face light up with excitement that I could see the light at the end of the tunnel. I reached down and could feel the baby’s head. Finally! I stood up, pushed a few more times, and then…it was…indeed…FINALLY OVER!

The Aftermath

After a brutal 22 hours of labor, our beautiful baby boy was here. I was in a complete state of shock. He was perfectly healthy and I actually did survive. I can say with 100% certainty that it is because of my husband, doula, midwife and nurse staff at Baylor McKinney that I was able to deliver this baby without an epidural.

As I sit here and tell this story, I feel proud. But it took me several days and several long conversations with my birth team in order to see myself as strong. I was traumatized by the experience and all I could focus on was the fact that I quit, asking for an epidural. I felt like I let myself and my team down. I felt the energy in the room shift when I asked for the epidural and I imagined everyone throwing in the towel. But they didn’t, and for that I am so grateful. My team reminded me that one of the most important steps in this whole process is putting the people in place that will help you be successful. Fortunately, a combination of my husband and I actively searching out care providers that would help us have the birth we wanted and of course, God being on our side, made that possible.

Had the back-up Doctors delivered our baby, I most likely would have ended up with a c-section. Thinking about that now scares me, but it also makes me incredibly happy, because we were able to change things.

I’ve been asked over and over if I would do it again. At 3 weeks postpartum, I can finally say yeah, I probably will. It’s a conditional yes, however. If my tailbone gets fixed, I will do it again. And I will pray my butt off for an easier labor! And definitely, no more than 2 kids. 🙂

Thank You

If you made it to the end of this post, congratulations, I know it was lengthy. I want to thank everyone that supported me throughout this pregnancy, labor and delivery and let my husband know just how much he means to me. He completed me in a way I never knew was possible. I’m documenting this journey because I want to help other people that might have questions about natural childbirth. Even after a tough labor, I still highly recommend everyone aspire to do it. Natural childbirth is a woman’s birth right and too many times it is taken away from us. We are all capable of doing it and medical interventions should be saved for when they are really, truly necessary.

For those women that weren’t able to have the birth they wanted, I am praying for you. I pray that you can find peace and find comfort in the fact that your beautiful child is here on Earth, just the way he/she was meant to be. People say it doesn’t matter how your baby gets here, as long as he/she is healthy. But to those that worked hard for a birth they wanted, it is still a traumatizing experience, and I pray for peace for all of the Moms out there.

Peace, love and strength,

Melissa

That’s right, another deodorant post! Hey, I can’t help it if these puppies are a hit! They work, they’re good for you and they’re much cheaper than buying from a specialty store. So, without further adieu, I give to you, the holiday 4-pack! These babies are the PERFECT stocking stuffers! Or…keep them for yourself! These 1-ounce containers of all-natural deodorant are free of harmful chemicals such as aluminum zirconium. This deodorant is all-natural, effective and smells wonderful! Why go natural you ask? Well, there’s lots of reasons, but you can check out my reasons here.

With this product, you get one each of FOUR HOLIDAY SCENTS including: Cinnamon Clove, Balsam Fir (think Christmas Tree), Candy Cane and Vanilla Cocoa (think hot chocolate). They are already available for purchase online! If you want to prepare for the holidays early, you can buy the deodorant now without any issues. Just store them in your refrigerator to maximize freshness before the gift exchange occurs!

Peace, love and happy holidays!

Melissa

Additional tips, tricks and what to expect from LWBF’s all-natural deodorant

Growing up I witnessed my mom struggle through numerous fad diets – Cabbage Soup Diet, No Carbs Diet, Fat-Free Foods Diet, etc. I also noticed that although she may have reached a goal weight utilizing these fad diet methods, but she could never maintain it.

90-95% of the people that go on a diet will add more weight than what they started with.” – Hungry For Change

However, no matter what fad diet my mom was trying, she and my dad continued to prepare healthy, balanced meals for the rest of the family that included vegetables, lean proteins, and healthy starches. For that, I can’t thank my parents enough. They helped me learn the importance of including a variety of foods and nutrients into my every day eating.

The struggle that my mom, and millions of men and woman across the country have encountered, is keeping the weight off while maintaining a normal lifestyle. The origins of the word diet comes from the Greek word díaita, which means, “way of living.” We have to re-train ourselves to make good food choices on a daily basis, which means buying and cooking whole, nutrient-rich foods as part of our lifestyle.

Another pitfall that my mom and many others face when it comes to eating well consistently is treating food as a reward. I grew-up thinking I could eat as much as I wanted as long as I stayed active and “worked it off.” To an extent, I believe this is true. Your body definitely needs sufficient fuel stores to perform strenuous physical activity, however, the kind of calories you are putting into your body is what matters most.

Healthy eating is a never-ending journey and should be viewed as a continuous education. The more you learn the better off you will be to make informed choices and do what’s best for your body. As I’ve stated before, I love food. I do not enjoy eating strictly as a means to fuel my body, but rather as an opportunity to indulge in nature’s most delicious offerings. Let fresh, whole foods be your reward and be sure to balance your díaita with activity and movement.

Happy Eating!

Holly