Labor Mindset: Creating a Mantra

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One of my favorite parts of¬†yoga class is when the instructor tells us to create a mantra, a word or phrase that we can repeat to ourselves to maintain focus and optimize our yoga practice. Mantras are so powerful because they’re a simple way of reminding us what we want to achieve, especially when the task at hand seems demanding or insurmountable.

I’ve started applying mantras to other areas of life as well. For example, when Antonio and I set our weekly goals together, we often create a mantra for the week. And, naturally, I have decided upon a labor mantra.

Baby C, mysterious creature that he or she is, has decided to keep us in suspense; the due date was two days ago, but he/she is still chillaxing in utero. I’m perfectly okay with Baby C extending his or her stay, since these last few days have been the optimal opportunity to finish tasks and tie up loose ends before I go into a Baby C haze. ūüėČ I was able to finish writing¬†The Mermaid’s Curse, and I also revised the book all the way to¬†the final draft, using the comments my editor had suggested. In addition, I’ve been able to keep up all my usual indie author duties, and I’ve had time to go on dates with Antonio and hang out with friends.

I really am in no hurry to go into labor, even though Baby C is sending me subtle signs that he or she is **thinking** about coming out. But when Baby C does decide to make an appearance, I feel ready, largely because I have created a labor mantra.

Creating a labor mantra will allow you to enjoy every step of the journey.

Creating a labor mantra will allow you to enjoy every step of the journey.

My mantra will be “serenity and strength.” Especially for first-time moms, the very thought of labor can be daunting, just because of its unfamiliarity combined with the horror stories we’ve heard over the years. But I feel as though our mindsets going into labor are just¬†as important as the physical aspects. I believe that maintaining serenity during labor will enable me to trust in God and the people who will be there to help me. Although I told my doctor my preferences, I did not make a specific-to-the-last-detail birth plan because some things just can’t be controlled or planned for. In fact, most wonderful parts¬†of life, whether weddings, relationships, or labors, deviate from the plan somewhat, and I’m fully ready for that.

I included strength in my mantra because labor is like a marathon, requiring intense physical and mental stamina. Throughout my pregnancy, I have practiced strengthening exercises, cardio, and yoga, to ensure that I’ll be in optimum preg condition for the big day. Now, all I have to do is depend on my body and let God do the rest.

Full-term moms out there, have you created a labor mantra? Did this post inspire you to do so, and if so, what will be your mantra? I’d love to hear your opinions!

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Mind Over Matter: Mindset Optimization in Month 9

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I’m 37 and 1/2 weeks pregnant, and Baby C could come any day now! My excitement mounts as the big day draws nearer, but I also understand the value of these last few preparatory weeks before Baby C makes his or her debut into the world.

I’ve heard that the last month of pregnancy can be very difficult for many moms-to-be, especially first-timers. This is because nervous anticipation, a general aura of impatience, and ever-so-slight dark clouds of worry can threaten our positive mindset in the home stretch of pregnancy. But never fear–here are 5 ways to manage negative thoughts and optimize our mindsets in the final weeks!

Here I am at the beach at golden hour this past weekend, enjoying a relaxing sunset date with Antonio.

Here I am at the beach at golden hour this past weekend, optimizing my mindset on a relaxing sunset date with Antonio.

  1. Be prepared –¬†This¬†is the single best way to prevent unnecessary tension now, on your delivery day, and after you bring your baby home. By week 34 or 35, make sure you have packed your hospital bag, not only with your necessities, but with a receiving blanket and an outfit or two for baby. Here’s a great blog post¬†I used when packing. Wash all the baby’s receiving blankets, crib sheets, and clothes, install the car seat, assemble the crib, and organize the baby’s room (or the corner of your room where baby will sleep for the first few months). Ask your OB/gyne for a list of recommended pediatricians, and program the phone number of your hospital into your phone (and your significant other’s phone, too). And finally, create a going-into-labor plan with your SO, or whoever will be bringing you to the hospital. Having all these details worked out ahead of time will give you peace of mind now, and make your life so much easier on the big day.
  2. Bond with your hubby –¬†Your significant other has most likely been the most active and involved member of your pregnancy support system, and will continue to fill this role during¬†labor and delivery and throughout baby’s life. Enjoy date nights at your favorite places, and embrace the romance and excitement of this special time. And make sure to snuggle–your oxytocin will skyrocket, a trend that will continue after your little one enters into the world.
  3. Stay active –¬†I’m a huge advocate of staying fit during pregnancy, and the last weeks should be no exception. The All-Belly Pregnancy workouts, coupled with prenatal yoga and cardio, have been my fitness staples throughout pregnancy, and I’m still practicing both routines.¬†However, my cardio on the treadmill was becoming annoying because Baby C has descended and is pressing on my bladder, so in the last month, I’ve taken to swimming for 30 minutes three times a week as my cardio. In the last few weeks of pregnancy, listening to your body is more important than ever, so don’t be afraid to tweak your exercise regimen.
  4. Focus on accomplishment –¬†Throughout the last month of pregnancy, I have had an almost feverish creativity and drive to succeed. I just finished and released the last book of my Amish series, Amish Awakening: Rebekah and Braeden’s Book, and am promoting it hard-core. I also am nearly halfway finished writing the first book of my new YA Mermaid series, The Mermaid’s Curse. I feel so motivated to finish the book before Baby C arrives, and this desire is really spurring my work ethic and creativity. If you’re still working, make it a point to finish projects and give 100%. That way, you’ll be able to take your maternity leave on a high note, and transition smoothly back into the workforce when the time is right.
  5. ¬†Enjoy, enjoy –¬†Be thankful for all the beauty of these last golden weeks of pregnancy. Enjoy the baby’s kicks, the quality time with your family and friends, and the exhilaration this special time brings.

Moms-to-be out there, how are you optimizing your mindset in the prego home stretch? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Fighting Preg Fatigue: 8 Easy Ways to Feel Energetic During Month 8

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I’m entering month 8 of my pregnancy, and I must say that I just feel tired more easily. If you’re approaching the end of your 3rd trimester, you know what I mean. But rest assured (literally), it’s not just you! There are a host of physiological factors contributing to this 8 month preg fatigue, including but not limited to:

  • Shortness of breath, due to the rapidly growing baby and ginormous uterus pressing on the lungs and diaphragm.
  • Racing metabolism as body prepares for baby.
  • Extra weight in the core, making everything just that much more difficult.
  • Ridiculously¬†caliente¬†core temperature, causing¬†overheating, and making dehydration and dizziness so much more possible.

The good news is twofold, though. First of all, we’re in the home stretch, and will be welcoming our adorable little babies into our arms in less than 2 months. And second of all, preg fatigue is super-easy to manage. You’ve heard the saying of the great generals: “Know your enemy.” Well, if we know why we’re feeling exhausted, we can combat and eventually defeat it!

Enjoying the breezy beach at sunset is my preferred way to keep cool during month 8.

Enjoying the breezy beach at sunset is my preferred way to keep cool and energetic during month 8.

With that in mind, here are 8 easy ways to keep up your energy during month 8:

  1. Hydrate –¬†During pregnancy, our fluid demands increase, and it’s recommended to drink eight to twelve 8-ounce glasses of water per day, as opposed to the usual 6-8 glasses for a non-pregnant person. I drink water throughout the day to keep my energy up, since dehydration can increase the risk of fainting, malaise, and feeling hungry when you’re in fact thirsty. Remember: If you feel thirsty, you’re already dehydrated.
  2. Exercise –¬†The energy lag hits me hardest in the mid-afternoon, about an hour after I eat lunch. For this reason, I changed my exercise routine from the morning to the afternoon. It’s always a battle to go to the gym or exercise along with that yoga video, but once I start and the blood begins to circulate, I feel so much more awake and alive. And afterwards, my energy is amped up for the rest of the day. My best advice is to identify your own personal energy lag time, and schedule your exercise in then. Not only will you feel better during and after the exercise, studies have shown that your baby may actually be born smarter because of¬†the increased oxygen and blood flow–bonus!
  3. Test for anemia – If you’re feeling incredibly tired all the time, the reason might not be pregnancy directly–it could be anemia. Anemia can set in during pregnancy, even if you’re taking the recommended supplements, because the baby leeches your iron, storing it away for later.¬†Medical protocol calls for an anemia test around 28 weeks. If you show up anemic, it’s important to remember a few things. First of all, iron from green leafy veggies like spinach is more difficult to absorb than heme iron (from sources like red meat), but vitamin C facilitates absorption. Therefore, adding a vitamin C supplement with your iron–or even just eating an orange or cooking with lemon–can help your body to retain more iron. Also, calcium impedes iron absorption, so separate your iron and calcium supplements by at least 3 hours.
  4. Keep up Your Blood Sugar –¬†Blood sugar crashes are another huge cause of tiredness in pregnancy, and they can be exacerbated by giving in to “cravings” for sugary, carb-y snacks. The best way to keep up your blood sugar is by avoiding junk food and eating healthy snacks with some protein for extra staying power. Plain Greek yogurt with 10 almonds, 5 walnuts, and a handful of blueberries is one of my favorite late-afternoon snacks to carry me through that blood sugar crash period between lunch and dinner. Other good snacks are carrots and celery with hummus or a banana boat (banana with natural peanut butter).
  5. Power Nap –¬†Sometimes, you just need a nap; nothing else will do. If this is the case, indulge in a 30 minute to one hour-long power nap. You will awaken rejuvenated and ready to finish out your day with gusto. Just avoid napping for longer than an hour, since sometimes those loong naps can make you more sluggish, and they can disrupt your sleep cycle at night.
  6. Breathe Deeply –¬†Sometimes in pregnancy, we can feel more fatigued if we don’t pay attention to our breathing. As I mentioned earlier, many pregos experience shortness of breath as the uterus presses on the lungs and diaphragm. For this reason, it’s important to pay attention to your breathing. Yoga is a great way to become more aware of how deeply and how often you’re breathing.
  7. Stay Cool –¬†Feeling overheated can make you languid and lazy, and pregos are especially prone to this because of our hotttt body temperatures. Seek out the breeze, amp up your AC, stay out of the sun during the heat of the day, take a swim–do whatever makes you feel more cool, calm, and collected, and your energy will surge.
  8. Sit up Straight –¬†If you, like me, sit at a desk all day, it’s easy to absentmindedly slump over, which actually makes you feel tireder. Instead, focus on your posture, consciously keeping a straight back. Not only will you look better, you’ll feel better, since sitting up straight allows the lungs to fill more completely and facilitates circulation.

Moms-to-be out there, I hope these tips help you to feel more vibrant and exuberant during your 8th month of pregnancy!

7 Tips for Preg Bliss at 7 Months

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As the third trimester progresses, I’ve heard so many pregos say that they just can’t wait for it to be over. And it’s true; not only are we excited to meet our babies, 9 months is a loooong time to go without certain things we love (in my case, cocktails and bandage dresses). Plus, many of us experience some degree of discomfort as our babies grow, and sometimes we just want our bodies back!

Still, there are so many ways to enjoy pregnancy at 7 (almost 8) months, and here are just a few.

Doing what you love will help you to have a more blissful 3rd trimester. Here I am on the beach this past weekend, enjoying the sand and sun.

Doing what you love will help you to have a more blissful 3rd trimester. Here I am on the beach this past weekend, enjoying the sand and sun.

  1. Keep doing what you love –¬†Preg fatigue sometimes makes it tempting to sit out activities that you usually enjoy, mostly because you’re sooo tired. News flash: The best way to energize yourself is to do what you love! Initiating the activity will be¬†the hardest part, but once you’re up and about, you’ll feel so vivacious that you’ll forget all about feeling tired or cumbersome.
  2. ¬†Stay social –¬†Just as some pregnant women skip out on their favorite activities, time with friends might take the backseat, since the couch looks oh-so-inviting. Resist the urge to become a prego hermit, and go out with your friends! Have date nights with your significant other. Remember that after your baby is born, it will be much harder to go out, so live it up now! Your zest for life will increase, and your mood will be as insta-lifted as your boobies in your favorite going-out push-up bra. ūüôā
  3. Feel beautiful –¬†Take care of yourself throughout your pregnancy, even though you might not feel like it. Keep up your beauty routine just as you would if you weren’t pregnant. And don’t forget to dress cute! I know that it’s what’s inside that truly counts, but feeling beautiful puts an extra bounce in your step and a brighter smile on your face, adding to that lovely preg glow.
  4. Don’t worry, be happy –¬†The last trimester can be a bit stressful, since there’s so much to think about. First there are the battery of tests you have to take (i.e. anemia, screening for gestational diabetes), and then there are the bi-weekly doctor’s appointments. On top of that, you’re preparing your house and your life for baby. But just take a deep breath and remember that this is an awesome time. It’s the best time of your life. You’re giving life, and in only a few more weeks, you’ll be meeting this amazing little creature to love. Know that, in a pregnancy, there are some things you can control (healthy eating, exercise) and some things you can’t (situations, genetic health complications). Control the factors you can, and just go with everything else. You’ll be happier–and mentally healthier–for it.
  5. Start prepping for baby –¬†Organizing your baby shower, putting together the baby registry, buying cribs… All of these things are so much fun, and make the blessed event feel much more real. Another word about preparedness: If you’re going to be ordering any baby furniture from a store, make sure to allow at least 6-8 weeks before baby’s due date, since that’s often how long it takes before the furniture will be shipped in. Buying a crib is almost like buying a wedding dress, minus all the fittings. If you don’t have that much time, Amazon has a great selection of cribs cheaper than you can find them in stores.
  6. Stay active –¬†Exercise might be the last thing you feel like doing, but it’s so beneficial throughout pregnancy. Just a walk on the beach or an hour of prenatal yoga can do wonders for both your muscle tone and your energy level. I love the All Belly Pregnancy workout, and have stuck to it throughout my second and third trimesters. (First trimester, I continued my normal workout routine, which had been approved by my physician.) Working out and staying toned throughout pregnancy has so many benefits: healthy weight gain, less strain on joints, decreased risk of swelling… The list goes on and on!
  7. Don’t expect too much of yourself all the time –¬†Preg or not, we all have our good days and bad days, and sometimes, when we’re pregnant, the bad days can just feel worse. Thank you, rapidly fluctuating hormones! On those days, be kind to yourself. Indulge in a nap or a little time in the sun. Resting up and taking care of yourself on the bad days will make the good ones feel even better.

Pregos out there, how are you blissing out during your third trimester? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Preg and the Sea: Benefits of Beaching it During Pregnancy

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I’ve had a lifelong love of the beach, which is why the San Diego area is the absolute perfect place for me! Antonio and I frequently walk on the beach to meditate, frolic in the waves, or just enjoy the sunshine and salty air. We usually beach it on the weekends, but last Thursday we had an evening beach-date, which recharged me and left me exhilarated for the remainder of the work week.

Meditating during last week's "beach-date"

Drinking in the view during last week’s “beach-date”

I looove the beach for its calming effects, its natural beauty, and its health benefits, and I think it’s the absolute perfect place for us pregs to hang out for a little R & R. Here are 5 benefits of beaching it during pregnancy–and really any time!

  1. It has cleansing¬†properties¬†– No doubt about it; that tangy, salt air is ah-mazing for your skin–all the¬†better to enhance that famous pregnancy glow. ūüôā¬†And if you’re feeling a bit sluggish, there’s nothing more energizing than¬†taking a deep, cleansing breath of ocean air. In addition, salt water is a natural astringent that has been said to speed wound healing and exhibit anti-acne and anti-inflammatory properties. The sand is great for your skin, too, with its natural exfoliating properties.
  2. It’s the perfect place to meditate¬†– Sometimes, we just need to get away from it all, and what better place than the beach? The glimmering waters, brilliant blue skies, and golden sand provide the perfect backdrop to sit back, relax, and reflect on everything we have to be grateful for, as well as to set goals for our bright futures.
  3. It provides exercise opps РThe beach is the perfect place to be active, regardless of your trimester. Swimming (in calm waves, of course) imparts that delightful feeling of weightlessness, and is a great way to combine cardio with subtle toning. Walking or jogging provides a work-out that is so different than walking or jogging on solid ground; the sand works wonders for your legs, especially your calves, and also stabilizes your core. And yoga on the beach allows you to commune with your inner self as well as your baby, and stay toned, all at once!
  4. It provides bonding time¬†– The cliched “long walk on the beach” gives you quality couples time, and allows you to discuss your hopes, dreams, and plans, or simply to enjoy a companionable silence.
  5. It boosts creativity and mood –¬†Something about the beach is so inspirational, don’t you think? During our beach-date, I thought up most of the storyline of the¬†new YA mermaid fantasy novel I’ll be writing soon. And the environment, combined with the exercise and the sunshine, jacks up your seratonin and endorphins, boosting your mood and helping you to combat the preg blahs.
Preparing to frolic in the waves

Preparing to frolic in the waves

Is it any wonder that Baby C and his/her parents love the sea? Mommies-to-be out there, do you enjoy the beach even more now that you’re pregnant? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

The Beauty of Prenatal Yoga: 5 Reasons You Should be Saying Namaste

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We all know that proper exercise is essential throughout pregnancy. Not only does it increase energy, improve our moods, and combat excess weight gain,¬†this article discusses¬†how it actually boosts baby’s brain activity!

I am following the All Belly Pregnancy workout from Flavilicious Fitness, and would recommend it to anyone with an uncomplicated pregnancy who wants to maintain optimum health and muscle tone. This workout incorporates targeted weight-lifting and resistance exercises to keep us mommies-to-be looking our preg best.

I also practice prenatal yoga one to two times a week, and absolutely love the effects. Not only do my muscles feel tight and toned, I’m more relaxed and in tune with Baby C. I would highly recommend checking out prenatal yoga classes in your area; if they don’t fit into your schedule, the All Belly Pregnancy workout includes the option of buying Prenatal Yoga workout videos as well. The instructor demonstrates safe poses in pregnancy, which is so helpful!

A preg 3-legged dog on the beach ;)

A preg 3-legged dog on the beach ūüėČ

 

There are so many benefits of prenatal yoga, and here are just a few:

  1. Improves focus – Combat the dreaded “mommy-brain” with focused you-time. Yoga’s emphasis on¬†meditation, mantras, and focused thinking has prevented forgetfulness and absentmindedness throughout my pregnancy, and I think it will work for you, too!
  2. Better posture –¬†As we gain weight in our bellies and boobs, it’s easy to slump forward, round our shoulders, and stop making an effort to¬†hold our spines straight and our heads high. Yoga improves muscle tone and keeps the spine, chest, and shoulders supple and strong, leading to beautiful body carriage throughout pregnancy.
  3. Aids in delivery –¬†The disciplined deep-breathing techniques, as well as the emphasis on stress management and healthy mind frame, make yoga an ideal¬†way to prepare for delivery. In addition, many prenatal yoga poses strengthen¬†the core and the pelvic floor, allowing for an easier delivery. I was inspired by a story I heard from a colleague, about a woman who practiced prenatal yoga and reported having a nearly painless delivery. Hmmm. Let’s see how that works… ūüėČ
  4. Allows communing with baby –¬†Close your eyes, say “ommmm,” and listen to the soft sound of your breath. All of these yoga activities help us to become more attuned to our bodies, especially during pregnancy. But even better yet is the way yoga makes us more attuned to our babies! The first time I followed the prenatal yoga video, the instructor urged viewers to imagine¬†what our babies were doing as they listened to the calming sound of our breath. And then, Baby C kicked! So cute. In fact, Baby C is often active during my yoga sessions, striking little poses of his/her own. I guess he/she is a yoga lover like mommy!
  5. Relaxes our muscles and our minds –¬†Many poses are excellent for stretching, improving flexibility, and relaxing the muscles. That’s why I love yoga on my non weight-lifting/strength training days. And just as importantly, yoga quiets our minds. Sometimes, the weird evolution that is pregnancy can be a bit overwhelming, and yoga is an amazing way to cope with that.

Ladies, what do you think? Are you a fan of prenatal yoga? Have you found any prenatal yoga programs that work well for you? I’d love to hear your feedback!

4 Tried-and-True Tips for Traveling While Pregnant

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This past weekend, Baby C had another “voyage,” a coastal California road trip! Antonio and I began in Monterey, passed through Carmel, Big Sur, and Pismo Beach, and finished our weekend with friends in Santa Barbara and Santa Monica. Here are some fun pix to get us started today. ūüôā

The beaches of Monterey are like nothing I've ever seen, full of wildlife and  deep teal waters.

The beaches of Monterey are like nothing I’ve ever seen, full of wildlife and deep teal waters.

The breathtaking views of Big Sur

The breathtaking views of Big Sur

Road trip selfie

Road trip selfie in the rental car

Posing in fairy wings at the Summer Solstice festival in Santa Barbara

Posing in fairy wings at the Summer Solstice festival in Santa Barbara

And as promised, here it is–the “sequel” blog post to last week’s “The Many Voyages of Baby C.” I will share 4 foolproof tips for traveling during pregnancy.

Traveling during pregnancy can be tricky, especially if you have certain unpleasant symptoms (i.e. 1st trimester morning sickness) or if you’re further along and are starting to feel as big and cumbersome as the plane itself. However, there are some universal tips to comfy–and healthy–travel during pregnancy, and I’m super-psyched to share them with you!

I’ve tried all of them, and they came in handy–especially during the monster marathon from Lebanon back to San Diego.¬†We had a 5-hour flight, a 3-hour layover, and finally a 10-hour flight. Cra-zy.

So, here they are–4 awesome tips for traveling while pregnant. I hope they help you during your next vacay!

Follow these travel tips, and you'll be full of energy when you get to your destination!

Follow these travel tips, and you might just be ready to dance the night away when you get to your destination!

  1. Hydrate – This seems like common sense, since you’re always supposed to drink plenty of water during pregnancy. However, in all the excitement of checking in, security, boarding, and flying, it’s easy to forget all about your 8 daily glasses of water. Staying hydrated throughout your journey will keep you much more comfortable, since it decreases the risk of edema, fluid retention, headaches, and dizziness. Plus, it will help to balance out that disgusting, dry, recirculated air on the plane. Well worth the extra bathroom breaks!
  2. Stretch frequently –¬†On my 10-hour flight, I got up every two hours–and not just to pee. I also did lunges, calf raises, and arm stretches. Stretching and exercise periods are beneficial for several¬†reasons: they get your blood pumping, prevent excessive swelling in the legs and feet, and give you something to look forward to, making the flight go by faster.
  3. Grab healthy snacks – Airport stores are notorious for selling un-nutritious convenience snacks¬†that are full of sodium and sugar–both things you should avoid before flying, and really all the time. Even the healthier options, like trail mix, are sold in ginormous bags that have about 8 servings. So unless you’re traveling with a companion (and no, your baby doesn’t count, wink, wink), don’t buy those. It’s¬†just too tempting to polish off a whole bag by yourself, and I don’t know about you, but I like to save my indulgences for yummy¬†restaurants once I’ve reached my destination! Instead, opt for snacks like yogurt, fruit, or Kind bars, and if you’re¬†eating a meal, strive for healthy options like salads, sandwiches, and low-fat wraps.
  4. Get some sleep –¬†We all know it’s easy to feel fatigued during pregnancy even on a normal day, so a long trip, especially over various time zones, can be disaster. Low-dose melatonin is okay to take during pregnancy. (As always, check with your own doctor before you try¬†it.) ¬†Melatonin regulates your light-dark cycle and lessens the severity of jet-lag. If you’re taking a long flight, especially an overnight one, sleep as much as possible. Also, try to sleep at the “nighttime” of whatever time zone you’re in, even if it doesn’t feel like night to you.

Moms-to-be out there, what works for you when you travel? I’d love to hear your thoughts!