Pregnancy Update: 38 Weeks!

Monday, March 31, 2014

As you know from my 37 week update, I've been dealing with some end-of-pregnancy back pain. Leading up to my 37th week, I exercised a lot. My husband suggested I scale back on my yoga practice this past week so I could see what exactly was hurting my back. I stretched several times throughout the day, including integrating stretches with my balance ball, but I skipped some of the more intense back exercises and it definitely helped! Then over the weekend, I walked all over the place while running errands and my back pain almost vanished! I am so surprised - I thought rest and yoga would be best! Not this week. This experience has taught me that I can do better when it comes to listening to my body.

It's starting to really sink in how close we are to meeting our son. I haven't really been too stressed about labor or becoming a parent, but sometimes it does scare me that I'm not able to visualize how much life will change so instantly when baby arrives. I really enjoy cuddling on the couch & watching TV with my husband. Will I ever have any free time again? Will I be so exhausted that I won't have time to spend with my husband? So many parents complain about how life is all about their kids, but are those people just whiners? (Seriously!)

When I got married, people told me that the first year of marriage is the hardest and honestly, I never experienced that. I'm not trying to say that everything in my life is perfect, because I certainly have issues within myself, but I think my husband and I have genuinely fought once in our +five year relationship - and it didn't last more than a few hours. It surprises me that so many people seem to think fighting once a week or holding long term grudges is just a normal part of marriage. So maybe parenting and family dynamics with a baby are the same way. Maybe having a positive outlook, being grateful for what you have, and making time for the ones you love is enough to make it through major life changes. But what do I know! ;)

Week: 38 weeks - woah - this is getting so real!!

Gender: Boy!!

Total Weight Gain:
I've gained 27lbs total!

Exercise: I scaled way back on yoga this week to determine the problems with my lower back. While stretching throughout the day feels great, some of the strength training yoga moves are just too intense for my back in this stage of pregnancy.

Nutrition: I have been terrible with sweets this week. Every day I eat fruits & veggies, but then I let dessert slide by. Need. more. self-control! 

Food cravings/aversions:
Obsessed with green grapes still! Aaaaand Ben & Jerrys!

Signs of Stretch Marks: Still using Burt's Bees Belly Butter! I have no stretch marks on my belly and I'm curious how much this butter has helped vs. genetics.

Maternity Clothes: No new ones for a while! My maternity shirts are actually starting to get a little short at this point - ha!

Sleep: Much better than last week but I'm still getting up a few times each night!

Feeling: Physically - much better towards the end of the week. Mentally - great! My husband and I have been dealing with some tough life decisions this week and it feels good to have a more solid plan for our immediate future.

Baby Movement: Baby's head is still down, and his body shifts from left to right. Sometimes when I get a strong kick, it feels like it sets off a Braxton Hicks. Maybe it's coincidence, I'm not sure.

Belly Button In or Out? In - but looking crazy!

Wedding Rings On or Off? On - but my fingers are swelling so much at night this past week. :(

What I miss most this week: Sun & warm weather. Stop snowing already!

Best moment this week: Having my husband home all weekend instead of working Saturday! Finally!

Looking forward to: Experiencing real contractions. I know it sounds strange, but if I had on & off contractions this coming week I wouldn't complain. It'd be nice to have my body start working for me slowly! 

I'm sorry I was absent for my Thursday post last week - with all of my new free time, I filled my schedule with projects and plans once again. I can't slow down - it's beyond my Capricorn nature, I've got an intense case of nesting mama instinct! ;)

xo kristen genevieve

Pregnancy Update: 37 Weeks!

Monday, March 24, 2014

I'm 37 weeks today, now considered "early term," and I've officially crossed into very pregnant territory! It's been a pretty tough week for me, physically. I've done yoga almost everyday this week, along with a bit of walking and hours upon hours of stretching to relieve my lower back pain. I was in so much pain at the beginning of the week and I couldn't figure out what to do to get comfortable. Then towards the end of the week, the pain began to diminish. I'm not sure if it was baby's position, if I pulled a muscle during yoga, or if all this weight is causing the discomfort. If the pain intensifies again, I'm not sure how I'm going to get through the next 3-4 weeks with so much wearing on me before labor even begins! 

I've also been experiencing lots of Braxton Hicks contractions this week, more so than the previous weeks. It's most noticeable in the evening and during the night time. I've been waking up several times a night - nature's way of preparing me for the lack of sleep to come! There is no way I can get out of bed without doing the belly rock these days! But I don't mind. :) 

Now that virtually everything is ordered, completed, and ready to go and I've stopped creating projects for myself in case he decides to come early, I find myself not having much to do for the first time in my pregnancy! I planned it this way so I would have time to just relax, but it's an odd feeling for me! As my husband will attest to, I am the queen of "to do" lists and have trouble not keeping myself constantly busy. So what did I decide to do? Go shopping! Ah! I am usually very frugal, but this week I can't peel myself away from all the adorable things I've found on Etsy! There are so many unique, handmade clothes, blankets & toys for baby, I just love it! I admit it - I have an Etsy problem. 

Week: 37 weeks 

Gender: Boy!!

Total Weight Gain:
Still right around 26lbs most days. Today I was only up 25lbs though! 

Exercise: I've been exercising like crazy this past week doing lots of yoga, walking & hours of stretching. I have to! My back hurts too much to stay stiff.

Nutrition: Fruit! I've been eating lots and lots of fruit. I've also been eating a ton of cheese this week. Calcium, right? ;)

Food cravings/aversions:
Craving mango & watermelon this week! I'm craving green grapes even more intensely, but Trader Joes didn't have any yesterday! :( Anyway, it must be a spring thing, craving fresh fruit. Last week I made a little smoothie from organic mango.Yum!

Signs of Stretch Marks: No changes for several weeks. Still using Burt's Bees Belly Butter!

Maternity Clothes: No new ones! Just doing lots of laundry!

Sleep: Phew! It's been a tough week for sleep. Since baby has dropped, I am constantly getting up to go to the bathroom. The backache doesn't help matters either. :/

Feeling: Heavy! I'm beginning to waddle because of the weight and the backache. I'm sure it's funny to look at, but it doesn't feel too great! My spirits are still high though!  

Baby Movement: Definitely still moving and he still has hiccups at least twice a day, but he is a lot more cramped now. Unfortunately that means he kicks way out to the side, which is so sensitive! What a stinker!

Belly Button In or Out? In - but looking crazy!

Wedding Rings On or Off? On

What I miss most this week: Feeling normal and pain free!

Best moment this week: Seeing our baby's face on the ultrasound and finding out that he's about 5lbs 13 oz and is in position, ready to go for the big day!

Looking forward to: Meeting this little nugget already!! As soon as pregnancy got a little difficult, I started getting impatient. ;)

The top photo is from a mini maternity photo session I did with my husband as my photographer about a week ago! I'm so grateful to have such a patient & talented husband! :)

xo kristen genevieve

Book Review: Natural Childbirth the Bradley Way

Thursday, March 20, 2014


Author Qualifications
Susan McCutcheon is a Bradley Childbirth educator, and one of Dr. Bradley's first students in 1968. I was not able to find much other information about her, so I'm assuming she has no formal medical training. The founder of the program is Dr. Robert A. Bradley MD, who did his obstetrical training at the Mayo Foundation in Minnesota. 

Stand Out Nuggets
-The Bradley Method is also known as Husband-Coached Childbirth. The program heavily relies on a supportive partner.
-Describes several differences between Bradley and Lamaze techniques, including an emphasis on natural breathing vs. panting techniques; visualization of the body vs. distraction techniques; viewing the hospital team as pushy vs. trusting what the doctor says, even if it means accepting medications. 
-Provides questions to ask your doctor about what happens during labor so you know what to look for to have the experience you want.
-Emphasizes that preparing for birth is a long-term commitment. You must spend at least 12 weeks, if not the entire pregnancy, eating well, exercising, not taking any medication, practicing deep breathing & relaxation, and put a great effort into choosing the right birthing team.
-Provides sections with very specific relaxation, breathing & visualization exercises for the different stages of labor. 
-Teaches you how to recognize where you are in the labor process based on your emotions and how your body is feeling.
-Teaches the best body positions for the different stages of labor.

What I Think
First let me say, I have not taken the official 12 week Bradley course, I've only read this book. Educators would frown on this approach, but I found this amount of study was sufficient for me. Also, my mom is an RN and former Lamaze educator, but I did not resonate with those techniques.

I have a very bi-polar view of this book. On the one hand, I felt that the Bradley techniques resembled my yoga practice much more than Lamaze. Bradley focuses on natural, deep breathing, and emphasizes the importance of the whole body, eating healthy and exercising throughout pregnancy. I also like that the Bradley techniques have me focus on how contractions are working for my body, how exactly those organs are pumping and making progress, whereas what I understand from Lamaze, I would focus on something to distract from the pain.

I really like that the book provides very specific body positioning, relaxation, and visualization techniques. It's a great help for me and for my husband. I've book-marked specific exercises and plan on bringing this book to the hospital for my husband to reference if he needs help remembering what to do on that emotional day.

What I strongly dislike about this book is how judgmental and fear-mongering it is. Throughout the book, for example, the author insists that episiotomies are routine and that you'll have to fight the doctor to avoid it. Not true! This information is outdated and it totally freaked me out! I asked my doctor about this and about how often they use forceps and vacuums. She said an episiotomy is very rare, they never use forceps and she can't remember the last time they used a vacuum. This book made these methods and other interventions seem commonplace. So check with your doctor if you have concerns about anything you read in this book - it was last published in 1994 which is a long time ago in medical history.
The book is just very one-sided. If you accept interventions, you are "giving in" and while it does say that you should have a good relationship with your birthing team, the book also implies that you should expect to have to fight everyone. I don't want to fight when I'm in labor! I wrote a birth plan and informed my husband of what type of experience I want so he can be my voice if I cannot, but I really don't want him to fight either! I don't think this is a healthy mentality and I truly believe that most people in this field of work just want you to have a good experience, even if they don't often see women follow through with their natural birth plans.

The Takeaway
Even though Bradley is less accepting of a flexible birth plan (it's very judgmental about any kind of intervention and medication), I feel like this type of strong conviction might be just what I need to overcome my self-doubt. Of course, I will do what ever is medically necessary. But if I go in with a strong will to deliver naturally, I feel like I'll have a better chance of succeeding than to be completely open to accepting interventions. 
I do not judge other women and I don't think this approach is right for everyone. The book itself can be scary, and can even make you feel bad about yourself. But if you are an earth-mama yoga-type that feels deeply connected to your body and emotions, this might be a good program for you if you can ignore the judgement and pushiness. Overall, I did find this book very educational and it did make me think a great deal about what type of labor I want. But even though I consider myself a type of person that's able to detect an author's bias or false information, I still felt fearful about some things because of this book before I spoke with my doctor.  

Have you read this book? Did you find it helpful to you, before and after your birth experience? Did it freak you out, too?! Please comment! I am so curious to know about others experiences. I had great feedback on my post discussing Natural Childbirth vs. Epidurals on how I weighed the pros and cons of each experience, so thank you!!
Be sure to check out my other parenting & pregnancy Book Reviews on the blog! So much has changed this week, I'm looking forward to updating you all in my next pregnancy update on Monday!! Almost 37 weeks now and the Hospital Bags are packed! Thanks for reading! :) 

Pregnancy Update: 36 Weeks!

Monday, March 17, 2014

This has been such a busy week! As you may have seen from my last post, I packed our hospital bags last week! It's so relieving to have that done, I can't even tell you! I also did a good cleaning of the apartment, got a haircut, ordered my breast pump, installed the car seat base, and even squeezed in a little maternity photo session at home. Phew! It's nice to be able to have almost everything done now so I can just relax and enjoy these last few weeks.

This week I've been feeling heavy. When other moms said the last month was the most difficult, I didn't really understand until this week. I've been so busy and physically exhausted that I have to make resting a priority over doing yoga, but I can tell my body is getting heavier and my back is hurting more because I've been neglectful of my exercise routine. I'm mentally motivated to get things done but my body is getting in my way! Hopefully next week will be better if I make yoga more of a priority again. It makes a huge difference!

Week: 36 weeks - 4 weeks to go!! Maybe?!

Gender: Boy!!

Total Weight Gain:
About 26lbs total! 

Exercise: I've been slacking with my yoga routine this week...I've been so exhausted! I have been walking a little more and still stretch for 20-30minutes before bed. But damn, this month might be more difficult than I thought!

Nutrition: I'm kind of boring - same old low-sugar, nut & seed filled granola, organic tomatoes, organic spinach, and lots of bananas. 

Food cravings/aversions:
Craving cayenne - I love lots of spice! But it's been giving me bad heartburn again. :/ Still craving clementines, too! And really all fresh fruit.

Signs of Stretch Marks: Thankfully, no new ones (yet!). Still using Burt's Bees Belly Butter!

Maternity Clothes: No new ones since 32 weeks! But furiously doing laundry because I am running out of clothes that fit!

Sleep: Phew! It's been a tough week for sleep. I get up only a couple times a night if I'm lucky. I've also experienced insomnia some nights, worrying about getting things done in time! I need to woosah!

Feeling: Physically - heavy! This last month might be tougher than I thought! I've also been experiencing some pretty intense heartburn, much worse than my first trimester. I also have swollen feet if I stand for more than an hour without a break. Finally, those Braxton Hicks contractions are increasing in frequency - they're not painful, just slightly uncomfortable. They're a good reminder to practice my labor relaxation techniques! 

Baby Movement: At my doctor appointment last week, baby was moving as she measured my belly. She said, "wow, he's really going!" I replied, "this is actually mild compared to normal!" Ha! We've got a wild one on our hands!

Belly Button In or Out? In - stay, stay!

Wedding Rings On or Off? On - Crossing fingers they'll stay on!

What I miss most this week: My energy. Ironically, yoga gives me energy but I also need to feel good to be motivated to exercise!

Best moment this week: Getting over my anxieties and asking my doctor all the questions about labor & delivery that I've been afraid to discuss with her so far.

Looking forward to: Getting an ultrasound today!

We're in the home stretch! Hoping I'll make it to at least 39 weeks, if not 40 weeks, but realistically, baby could be here any day now!! As you know from my last post and from Instagram, my hospital bags are packed! Check out my list and let me know if I missed anything! Thanks so much for all your support during this time. I really appreciate all of the love and good vibes. :)

xo kristen genevieve

What's In My Hospital Bag

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Now that I'm almost 36 weeks along, it's time to start packing my hospital bag! Here are all the items I can think of that I plan on bringing with me to the hospital. In some cases, I bring a few things more than necessary because I want my own organic products. I've also listed optional items, gathered some snacks, and created a list of last minute items that I don't want to forget! I hope this is helpful to you!

For the Little Man

  • Car Seat! We're installing the base this weekend. ;)
  • 4 Outfits - I'm bringing 3 onesies and 1 pair of pjs with footies.
  • 2 hats, 2 pairs of mittens, 2 pairs of socks
  • 2 swaddling blankets. Mine are from Aden & Anais.
  • 4-6 Burp Cloths. I have a mix of organic & regular burp cloths. 
  • Organic Cotton Balls - I'm using these with water instead of wipes for the first few weeks. They're also great for wiping eye boogers!
  • Diaper Cream - I'm using Seventh Generation because it's fragrance free, hypoallergenic and non-toxic with no parabens or phthalates. Plus it's a Vermont-based company!
  • Optional: Diapers - I'm bringing a handful but plan to use as many as the hospital will give me!
  • Optional: I'm bringing just 2 multi-use wash clothes for random needs. The hospital will also provide some.
  • Optional: Baby Memory Book - for footprints.
  • Optional: Pre-sterilized pacifiers.
  • Optional: Stuffed animal, blankie or other memory items.
  • Optional: Extra lip balm - for me. I spread them throughout the bags so I can always find some!

Labor & Delivery

  • Trash bag & an old towel for my seat on the car ride to the hospital.
  • Forms: Hospital Forms, insurance information, and several copies of my birth plan.
  • Lavender & Peppermint Organic lotions for calming. You could also use essential oils.
  • Organic coconut oil- I got mine at Trader Joe's.
  • Lavender neck wrap (and/or eye pillow) for relaxation.
  • Birthing Ball & pump - the RN on my hospital tour said they don't have many. (On my last minute list.)
  • Wood massager
  • Pillows (Also on my hospital stay & last minute lists.)
  • Wash Cloths 
  • Labor Books - I'm bringing Natural Birth the Bradley Way & Active Birth.
  • Disposable Flip Flops for walking with swollen feet and taking a shower during & after labor.
  • iPod with music doc or Laptop
  • Optional: Robe; slippers or socks to walk around in; magazines or light reading.


  • Nursing Bras - 2-3 in case one gets wet.
  • Nipple Cream - I'm using Motherlove Organic cream, but Lanolin is fine.
  • Disposable Breast Pads - I'm starting off with Lansinoh Ultra Soft pads.
  • Nursing pillow + cover (I'm still waiting for my covers to arrive from Etsy!)
  • Optional: Organic Washable Breast Pads -  I'm saving these for home.
  • Optional: Breastfeeding book
  • Optional: Breast pump - the hospital will provide one or rent one to you if you want.
  • Optional: A pre-sterilized Nipple Shield if you anticipate problems with breastfeeding. Ask your lactation consultant about them. 

Hospital Stay Necessities

  • Toiletries: Soap, shampoo, conditioner, face wash, face lotion, body lotion, toothbrushes, toothpaste, mouth wash, floss, minimal makeup, partner's deoderant. (Don't forget those shower flip flops from above!)
  • 2 Towels - for showering in case the hospital towels are small. (Remember the third towel is for the car ride!)
  • Extra travel size bottles to put soaps in if it's more convenient. 
  • Squirt bottle with water or witch hazel for post-delivery recovery.
  • Lip Balm
  • Hair brush & hair ties
  • Vitamins: My organic prenatals from New Chapter, DHA and Iron. 
  • Any other medications
  • Pillows & a blanket (on my last-minute packing list)
  • Tissues
  • Empty bag for gifts and hospital extras.
  • Empty folder for records, blank paper & pens.
  • Cash & change for vending machines
  • Camera & charger
  • Laptop, Phone & chargers (on my last minute list)
  • Clothing: Nursing bras (listed above), maternity underwear, lots of socks, loose clothing for nursing and sleeping, a maternity outfit for when I leave the hospital. Oh, and a few things for my husband! ;)
  • Optional: Sound Machine - in case the hospital is noisy.
  • Optional: I'm bringing my own organic soap/shampoo for baby from Earth Mama Angel Baby because it's a more non-toxic option than I suspect the hospital might offer. I only need a little, so I'm just putting it in one of my travel-size bottles.
  • Optional: Lotion for baby. I am bringing my own Burt's Bees Fragrance Free lotion for the same reason. Not sure how much I'll use since baby doesn't get a bath in the first +12 hours of life. 
  • Optional: Journal. I'm leaving it at home because I don't expect to have the energy!
  • Optional: Razors, Loufas, Q-tips, Advil


  • Water
  • Some type of chocolate - obviously!
  • Multigrain Pita Chips for sustenance- these are from Trader Joe's.
  • Almonds or other nuts/trail mix - protein!
  • Granola bars - to keep blood sugar up (mostly for my husband!)
  • Peppermint Tea
  • Optional: Last minute fresh food (see last minute packing list for ideas).
  • Optional: Some women insist on having coconut water because it basically a natural Gatorade, packed with electrolytes. I have tried to like it, but - yuck! 
  • Optional: I found this Organic Red Raspberry Leaf Tea from Earth Mama Angel Baby that is supposed to naturally induce labor. I'm not sure if I'll bring it to the hospital since I'll already be in labor, but I might drink it after 39 weeks!
My husband is prone to fainting because when his focus on me, he forgets to eat & drink. My mother-in-law has been telling me that I need an extensive snack collection ready! ;) Don't forget your partner when packing!

My Last Minute Packing List
  • Any extra clothes, toiletries or medications I couldn't pack in advance
  • Pillows & a blanket
  • Birthing Ball (pump is already packed)
  • Laptop & Charger
  • Phones & Chargers
  • A peanut butter & jelly sandwich, a banana, an apple, some chedder or any other fresh snacks you or your partner might want.

Leave at Home
  • Any clothing you don't want ruined. This is self-explanatory.
  • First Aid & Grooming supplies for baby. You'll use them at home soon enough! 
  • Deodorant - if you plan on breastfeeding.
  • Advil or other medications you might get at the hospital for free.
  • Too many diapers - try to get free ones if you can!
  • Extra sanitary pads - unless you are particular, get more free things while you can!

While You're Packing
  • Make yourself some witch hazel pads and pop them in the freezer for post-delivery care.
  • Bring a vase or two out if they're tucked away. ;)
  • Tell your partner or other family that will be at your place if you specifically want anything when you return from the hospital. I want some Pinot Noir or champagne, chocolate and a cheese, cracker & fruit spread! ;)

I hope you found this helpful! Let me know if I missed anything!

xo kristen genevieve

Pregnancy Update: 35 Weeks!

Monday, March 10, 2014

This week has been so much better than the past few weeks. Not only is it great to be home, but I've been getting a lot done! Makes me feel productive! Last week, I didn't feel comfortable mentioning my experience with my doctor. She hasn't been great all along, always rushing out the door, but this time was the straw that broke the camel's back. Basically, she warned me about gaining too much weight in a rude way, and I felt horrible & pissed off all week. I feel like I've been so healthy throughout my pregnancy! I just like to eat! I felt so uncomfortable that I considered switching doctors and hospitals - at 35 weeks. 

Then my husband & I took a hospital tour. I was anxious to take it because I didn't want to have to visualize a place that I wasn't comfortable in when I felt stuck with this hospital. My mom (an RN) told me about other hospitals in my area, and once I felt like I had an option to switch if it didn't go well, I decided it couldn't hurt to see what the hospital is like. It was so much better than I expected! At first, I felt uncomfortable when the nurse giving the tour said, 'you come in here, get hooked up, and lay in the bed.' But after the class, I asked her several questions and she explained that I would have the option of being more free with a natural childbirth. This place is not perfect, but knowing that I could have the birth experience I want to have made me feel soooo much better!

Last week I wrote a post on birthing which talks about my thoughts on the pros and cons of natural birth vs. medicated birth. This morning at my appointment, I was assertive with my doctor and asked her all my questions and it went much better than my last visit.  I'm glad that I made a point to write to down and questions to make myself feel more comfortable. My mother said something interesting to me - don't be afraid to ask questions or be [polite but] assertive because not only are you a patient, but you are essentially a paying client and this stuff is important! Thanks, Mom. ;)

Week: 35 weeks along!! 5 weeks to go - maybe!! 

Gender: Boy!!

Total Weight Gain:
I fluctuate between 23-25lbs. My uterus is measuring a tad small this week after being warned about gaining too much at my last appointment - go figure! Crazy how much  your body changes in just a couple weeks.

Exercise: Still loving my yoga program, but I wish I were a little more consistent. I cluster my workouts toward the end of the week. But I do stretch and do squats every night before bed. Don't forget about those Kegels, ladies!

Nutrition: Loving garlic, spinach, bananas, and lemons!

Food cravings/aversions:
Feeling more averse to sweets lately - not because cookies make me nauseous, but because I want to be as healthy as possible going into labor.
Also, I've been craving clementines again but have had such a hard time finding good ones over the past couple months!

Signs of Stretch Marks: No new ones, somehow!! Still using Burt's Bees Belly Butter!

Maternity Clothes: Now new ones, but I am looking into getting a nursing bra finally. I'll need a few, but I think I want to start with one until after birth.

Sleep: Not only getting up to go to the bathroom a couple times each night, but also having a bit of insomnia when I wake up! I am constantly dreaming about birthing. :-P

Feeling: Great! A little anxious about getting things done and making the decisions I need to make still, but otherwise, I'm feeling good being home! Physically, I feel so strong & flexible. Its amazing and I can't believe this is what it feels like to be 35 weeks pregnant! Also, my doctor confirmed that my tightening uterus (feels hard with no pain) are indeed Braxton Hicks contractions! I've noticed them a lot more this week than ever before. I'm so excited! :)

Baby Movement: Yes! He's kicking me as I type this. I can feel the difference between a foot or another body part jabbing me, which is pretty amazing!

Belly Button In or Out? In - at this point, I don't think it'll budge. Fingers crossed!

Wedding Rings On or Off? On - please stay this way!!

What I miss most this week: Having a car. I need to get some errands done before baby arrives!

Best moment this week: Feeling relieved after the hospital tour!

Looking forward to: Having a productive week! Also, the Bachelor finale! ;)

xo kristen genevieve

Birthing: Natural Birth or Epidural?

Thursday, March 6, 2014

I wanted to take a week off from my book reviews this week to write about birthing. Now that I'm 34 weeks along, it's something I've been thinking about a lot. I've tried talking to a few people about it, but most just say "everything is going to be okay" rather than considering how important this experience is to me emotionally. So I would love to have a conversation with moms who have been through this or are currently going through the process of making decisions on birthing.

First off, I want to say that I have no judgement in this post on what any other person chooses to do for themselves. I just need a forum to vent my concerns because I'm honestly not sure how to mentally prepare. I would very much would love to hear what you plan to do if you are a first time mom or if you have had kids, your experiences with natural birth, medication of any kind, and c-sections, and whether or not you would choose differently if you could go back. 

At this point, I have not decided exactly what I am going to do. I can see benefits to both having an epidural and having a natural birth. I'm going to try to post what I see as the pros and cons of each, but PLEASE comment and let me know if I missed anything or if you disagree. I would love all the information possible so I can make my decision for the big day!

Natural birth vs. Epidural
Natural birth pros:
-Being completely aware and in the moment without the fuzziness of drugs
-No needles!
-Lower chance of the use of forceps, vacuums and other tools
-Lower chance of C-Section
-Potentially faster labor than with epidural
-Ability to move around more freely (less wires)
-For some, a more spiritual experience. But I don't believe you can only have that experience with a natural birth.

Natural birth cons:
-Well, you will feel more pain during labor and during recovery
-Takes some serious will power
-Lamaze or Bradley techniques may go out the window in the moment! 
-How it might mentally impact you if you plan a natural birth and end up needing or wanting medications & interventions

Epidural anesthesia pros:
-A potentially more positive birthing experience if dealing with the pain is too much. This is only one point but it's a BIG deal!
-The ability to ease into recovery since there will still be medication in your system
-There are many types of epidurals that may allow more movement

Epidural anesthesia cons:
-More monitoring & wires
-Feeling sleepy or drowsy 
-Sudden drop in blood pressure, shivering, nausea, soreness & other adverse reactions to medications
-Lengthens labor
-Makes pushing more difficult and may require Pitocin, forceps, vacuums, or a C-Section
-Feeling numb for several hours after delivery (though not necessarily "out of it")
-Can sometimes make breastfeeding more difficult, according to some studies
-May still feel pain when pushing (according to mom who has 5 kids - 2 natural, 3 epidurals) depending on the strength of the medication

As you may be able to tell, I am leaning towards a natural birth. I want to be flexible and open to an epidural if need be, but up until recently, my main concern has been avoiding a C-Section. This is especially a concern of mine because I will be delivering at a hospital that has one of the highest rates of cesareans in the state, which is one of the major scenarios to avoid if you can. Having a Cesarean terrifies me and its just not the ideal birthing experience for me, and I don't know if I am willing to increase my chances by getting an epidural. 

Since I started researching more about birth options, I've began to see the birthing experience as something more spiritual. I don't mean spiritual in a religious sense, but spiritual in the sense that I want to connect to myself and have a deeply empowering experience. And I am not afraid - I am truly excited to go through this life changing experience. But won't it be life changing whether I have a natural birth or not, just getting to meet my son? Birthing and meeting my boy are two different experiences to me, but both are extremely important for me to soak in and remember clearly. 

My issue with accepting an epidural is that if I mentally go into it thinking that medications are an option, I think it'll impact my ability to stick to my goal and continue having a natural childbirth. In order to have the will power to get through the toughest thing my body has ever experienced, a large part of me thinks that it's important to only consider an epidural as a last resort, meaning if my health or the health of my child is in danger. The only other circumstance where I would be more open to medications would be if I am in labor for several days and haven't been able to sleep. I know my body can handle a natural childbirth, but going into the experience with this type of "all in" mindset, I also don't want to be inflexible or disappointed if I end up getting an epidural.  

So, how do you make a birth plan where you set realistic goals for yourself when you have no idea what the experience will be like for you? I am a goal oriented person and can stick to my goals, but I do feel disappointed when I fall short. How do you remain flexible while staying strong in your goals?

If you feel comfortable sharing, what type of birth experience have you had or do you plan on having? Do/did you believe things can go as planned when you're in labor? Do/did you want a "spiritual" birth experience? Are you as afraid of having a Cesarian as me? Do you believe it doesn't matter as long as you remember that you have a happy, healthy baby in the end?
So many questions! I'm very much interested in your feedback. I know the end goal is a healthy baby, but I also value birthing as a separate experience and would love to hear from others who have been through or are going through this decision. So please tell me what you think! :)

xo kristen genevieve

Pregnancy Update: 34 Weeks!

Monday, March 3, 2014

To be honest, this was a low week for me. It's frustrating to feel down because for me, down snowballs further down most of the time. It becomes a lot more difficult to choose happiness! I think part of what has contributed to my blues is that its been hard to deal with my husband's work schedule, coupled with the fact that we've been in hotels for the past few weeks. This week, I'm finally back home and can focus on getting back into my routine and making myself feel happy again!

Thankfully, almost everything is ready for our little boy to arrive. I have a few books I want to read, including (finally!) some fiction that's just for fun! With 6 weeks to go, I want to focus on mentally relaxing and enjoying these last few moments that are all about me. I've spent so much time preparing for baby that I feel like I need to stop and smell the roses a little! Appreciate this time - right now. So we'll see how that goes, but it's my goal this week!

Week: 34 weeks along - 6 weeks to go!! (Maybe!)

Gender: Boy!!

Total Weight Gain:
About 21 lbs total!

Exercise: I can't say enough how much yoga has helped me stay strong throughout my pregnancy! I've also been trying to add in other strength exercises like squats to my routine.

Nutrition: Lots of spinach smoothies, tomatoes, bananas, and limited amounts of sweets. Trying to stay healthy while on the road!

Food cravings/aversions:
Not much this week. I don't like food as much when I'm in a funk.

Signs of Stretch Marks: Still no changes and I can't believe it! Still using Burt's Bees Belly Butter!

Maternity Clothes: No new ones since 32 weeks

Sleep: Difficult in the hotel, but sooo much better now that we're home.

Feeling: Physically, I'm feeling good. My lower back has been hurting a little, especially the days after I skip yoga. My hip & rib pain isn't as bad this week. My feet also begin to swell quite easily now, but I'm blessed to receive lots of foot rubs! 

Baby Movement: All the time! It's getting to the point where I absolutely know I'm going to miss this feeling!

Belly Button In or Out? In

Wedding Rings On or Off? On

What I miss most this week: My sunny disposition. I want my happy back!

Best moment this week: Laying on the couch watching tv with my husband. It's the little things. :)

Looking forward to: Settling in back home!

What do you want to do for yourself before baby arrives? Are you making yourself a priority? So soon, life will be totally different!

xo kristen genevieve

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