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Getting Enough Iron During Pregnancy

Rachel O'Reilly

Iron is one of those buzzword nutrients that almost every woman knows about. Groups at highest risk for iron deficiency include teenage girls, women of childbearing age, pregnant women, children under 2 years of age, and the elderly. According to the World Health Organization, iron deficiency affects a large number of children and women in developing countries and is the only nutrient deficiency that is also significantly prevalent in industrialized countries.

Some degree of iron deficiency occurs in 35-58% of healthy women of childbearing age. But why does this occur? Mostly due to inadequate dietary intake, blood loss, lack of iron absorption/utilization, increased demand by the body (such as during pregnancy), or a combination of all these factors.

Iron deficiency anemia is one of the common nutrient anemias that can occur during pregnancy (others are a deficiency of folic acid and B12). Symptoms include:

  • Extreme fatigue

  • Dizziness

  • Shortness of breath

  • Paleness of skin, fingernail beds, and mucous membranes

  • Loss of appetite (especially past the first trimester)

  • Heart palpitations

  • Gastrointestinal disturbances such as constipation and abdominal pain

  • Frequent colds or infections

Iron’s role in the body

Iron plays an important role in transporting oxygen from the lungs to the body’s tissues, and carbon dioxide from the tissues to the lungs. For this reason, sufficient iron availability allows for optimal oxygenation of fetal tissue. Additionally, iron is a key enzyme in metabolism and DNA synthesis. The body’s need for iron will increase dramatically during pregnancy, as well as lactation, and proper optimal iron levels leads to adequate iron stores for the newborn.

Food Sources of Iron

There are two types of iron, heme and nonheme. Heme iron is found in animal sources, and is the most efficiently absorbed form of iron. Non-heme refers to iron found in plant foods, and is poorly absorbed.

Here’s an example of foods containing bio-available iron (heme):

  • 3 oz clams (cooked) 23.8 mg

  • 3 oz beef liver 5.3 mg

  • 3 oz Sirloin steak 2.9 mg

  • 3 oz shrimp 2.6 mg

  • 3 oz lean ground beef 2.3 mg

  • 3 oz turkey breast 1.3 mg


Other heme iron food sources include:

  • Poultry such as chicken, duck, and turkey

  • Meats such as beef, pork, and lamb

  • Seafood including sardines, anchovies, and oysters


Non-heme food sources: (in plant sources, ~17% of iron is absorbed)

  • 1 cup lentils 6.6 mg

  • 1 cup cooked spinach 6.43 mg

  • 1 cup cooked quinoa 5.3 mg

  • 1 cup kidney beans 5.2 mg

  • 1 cup cooked beet greens 2.74 mg

  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds 2.62 mg

  • 5 figs, dried 0.85 mg

Other sources include:

  • Blackstrap molasses (also has a lot of sugar, so use sparingly as a sweetener)

  • Nettles (tea)

  • Kelp (seaweed - kombu and dulse)

  • Nutritional yeast  

  • Organic, unsulphured dried fruits including raisins, prunes, black Mission figs, apricots, and cherries)


According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the National Institutes of Health, the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) of iron during pregnancy is 27mg, and 9-10 mg during lactation.  Keep in mind that the RDA is a guideline that was originally created in 1941 and was designed to reduce the rates of severe nutritional deficiency disease, such as scurvy. In other words, consider the RDA the minimum amount necessary, and these amounts will not take your individual need into consideration. To check your individual iron status, talk to your healthcare provider; they will be able to run a CBC test, or complete blood count, and interpret the results for your needs.

Can I get all my iron needs from food?

Even for women who eat a healthy, whole foods diet, and have reasonable iron stores prior to conception, supplementing (via your prenatal vitamin, not as a single supplement) will ensure sufficient iron levels during pregnancy, as well as for a good length of time postpartum. Supplementation may also be helpful in protecting against iron deficiency in subsequent pregnancies . Always talk to your health care provider and/or midwife before supplementing.


Honey Iron Syrup



Black Mission figs

Dried dark cherries


Carob pod


  1. Mix equal parts of each to add up to 1 cup

  2. Place in a 1 quart canning jar

  3. Pour honey to fill and cap the jar

  4. Place into a hot water bath, and heat gently for three hours.

  5. Let sit at room temperature for 1 week

  6. Can strain or use as is

Dose: 1 tablespoon per day, in Nettle herbal tea. To bump up the iron levels even more, use a combination of nettles, yellow dock, and dandelion root. 

4 Things I love to do with my 4 year old

Rachel O'Reilly

Having a four year old is a game changer. I still hold all of our previous years together near and dear to my heart, but this stage I am really enjoying parenthood more than I ever have. Things are A LOT easier and, just being honest here, way more fun. If you are in the woods with your toddler, trust me - it gets better and way sooner than you think. Not only am I not feeling as much like a human porta potty, I now have a little person to hang out with who has real opinions and is pretty damn entertaining. Here are the top four things I am currently enjoying with my four year old:

Bake something new. I know, this one is a real shocker, right? We love to look up a recipe on Instagram and watch the video together a couple of times to get excited about trying it. We recently made these skinny banana muffins and they were fantastic. She snuck four of them before I blinked.

Go for a walk. This has always been one of our favorite things to do ever since she was literally in my stomach. I love it even more now because it doesn't require any hardware - aka stroller. I no longer need to pack a “baby bag” with snacks, wipes, and water and instead we can just throw our shoes on and head out. I especially love that she walks our dog herself and takes so much pride in it. He probably has another opinion on the matter! I find that whenever she might be a bit fussy or we need to kill some time, a walk is undoubtedly the best solution. We look at flowers, talk about other dogs we see, and the world is able to slow down, which is what I’m liking these days.

Write cards to people. We love to pick out new cards at the store and talk about who we are going to send them to. I always let her draw or write her name in them, if appropriate, and, of course, put the stamps on, which she sometimes steals and pretends are stickers. She is still a small child! She loves taking them to the post office herself, picking out the stamps, and popping them in the mail slot. Call me old fashioned but I’m hoping this small joy of mine sticks with her.

Sushi lunch date. This has become one of our little traditions I started when she was about two. It’s the one meal my husband never craves and one that I do all too often. Luckily, my baby is totally on board. I think sushi is such a great meal to take a young one to. The variety of small dishes, dipping sauces, and chopsticks make it more of a game than a meal. Which if you have a four year old, you know that getting them to actually eat something substantial is a challenge. The catch twenty-two is your child will become all too addicted and start to order rounds of sashimi which gets a little taxing on the wallet. Whoops!

Healthy Hippity-Hoppity Easter Ideas

Rachel O'Reilly

By Rachel O'Reilly

Easter is an especially whimsical holiday… I’m sure we can all remember the enchantment we felt as children waking up Easter morning and finding bunny paw prints leading us to our Easter basket, or the exhilaration of an Easter egg hunt, or the simple joy of gathering with family and community. Holidays are a sweet opportunity to relive that magic with your own kids and remember how special all those little traditions were to you!

Infusing more meaning and fun into family life with rituals and traditions is something we love to do at Cherish, so we’ve put together a few simple ideas, some borrowed from generations of Easter Bunnies, and some new hippity-hop ones that we hope you enjoy sharing with your little honey buns!

Dyeing Easter Eggs, Naturally

The hues that natural egg dyeing produces are so rich and beautiful, and most importantly are non-toxic and safe for children. This visual ingredient guide shows how simple natural dying really is. Most of these ingredients are things you probably already have in your kitchen. Thanks to Kristen Rickert for these instructions for natural egg dyeing. Eggcellent!

Healthy Bunny Treats

  • We’re big fans of Annies Organic Foods, and so are our kids. Luckily you can find these bunny fruit snacks and bunny crackers, (available gluten-free) at any Whole Foods or natural foods store, and they are a fun treat to incorporate in Easter baskets or to stuff Easter eggs with for a hunt.

  • Sometimes, if the Easter Bunny leaves baby carrots behind, kids will happily munch them down… Another way to sneak in healthy foods as festive fun is by cutting fruit, these homemade nutritious bars, cheese or other wholesome options with these Easter-themed cookie cutters.

Holidays often mean processed candy and unhealthy levels of sugar for kids, but rather than avoiding sweets entirely, these less sugary options will make any bunny happy!

  • Jelly beans made with organic fruit juice.

  • Sunflower seeds covered in chocolate or yogurt-covered raisins.

  • Gut-healthy gummies (which can be made in any festive shape you desire).

  • We were surprised by how easy these vegan, gluten-free, and overall healthy homemade chocolate bunnies are to make. Check out the Hippy Homemaker for the recipe.

Eggcellent Egg Hunt

  • Put a crystal inside an egg like rose quartz with an explanation of it's magical power (this is great for children 3 years+ so there's no risk of choking). 

  • Stuff eggs with special “coupon” notes for gifts and family activities. For example, “An afternoon at the Discovery Museum!” or, “A new soccer ball!” or, “Let’s go fly your new kite!” or, “A picnic at the park with grandma and grandpa!"

  • You can create an egg hunt anywhere, like in your house or backyard, but it can also be fun to use the hunt as an excuse explore somewhere new! Check out a different park or adventure on a new trail (where Dad or Mom can run ahead or go beforehand to place eggs before the kids reach the mysterious egg hunt spot), or even visit a local farm or petting zoo, and give kids the chance to see baby chicks, bunnies, or other farm animals up close. These kinds of outings can create thrilling and lasting memories as a family. Spring is such a great time to cherish nature and blooming life all around!

Happy Easter EveryBunny!

Herbs for Pregnancy

Rachel O'Reilly

By: Erica Favela

As many people are becoming aware and questioning the safety of synthetic and prescription drugs, the interest in alternative medicine or more “natural” remedies is rising. For many, this looks like turning to herbs or herbal infused products. Herbs are powerful and have been used for centuries. They’ve been a mainstay in folk medicine, and many cultures around the world continue to use them.

How do we know what's safe for pregnancy?

Botanical medicine is not included in the training of physicians and pharmacists. Furthermore, the risk of using herbs during pregnancy has not been scientifically evaluated, mostly due to the ethical considerations of clinical investigation on humans during pregnancy. Therefore, most of what is considered safe to use during pregnancy is based off of historical, empirical, and observational evidence. Although most herbs have a high safety profile, especially if used in modest amounts and in simple home remedies, lack of proof of harm does not always equate to safety, especially for women who are pregnant. During pregnancy, you should always discuss the use of herbs with an experienced herbalist, midwife, or physician trained in the use of botanicals.

As you do your research on herbs, you may find that some herbs have been identified as generally safe, while another source may put that same herb as unsafe. For instance, in China dong quai is prescribed as a blood tonic for pregnant women, however, Western scientific research on this same herb concludes it to be unsafe during pregnancy. Additionally, the safety of herbal use during pregnancy can also depend on the dosage and form in which it is taken. Fresh parsley as a garnish on food is generally safe for pregnant women, however parsley in an herbal supplement form has been deemed as contraindicated.

Pregnancy is not a time to test any herbs that you have had no experience with and that are not considered safe via clinical trials. A very judicious approach to using herbs during pregnancy is: avoid them during the first trimester (unless medically indicated), and then afterwards, using herbs that are scientifically proven as safe or historically known to be safe during pregnancy. Here are a few other things to take into consideration before turning to herbs:

  • If you are taking any medications, make sure you research if there are any contraindications between the herb and your medication. Some combinations of herbs and pharmaceuticals can be dangerous or cause undesirable side effects.

  • Be aware of source and quality. If you’re interested in taking herbs in supplemental form via pill, capsule, or tincture, do your research about the manufacturer. If buying herbs in bulk, check that they were grown organically. Be aware that the word “natural” is not synonymous with safe; many botanical products can contain other pharmacological substances.

  • When considering the use of herbs, they are best used in smaller doses and with gentler herbs as a preventative measure or for use before a symptom becomes advanced.

  • During pregnancy, the body goes through many physiological and metabolic changes, which may influence the impact of an herb in the body. For instance, licorice may be considered safe if used short-term during mid-pregnancy, yet long-term use of the herb has been associated with preterm birth.

  • Herbs are potent plants, and some have the ability to affect hormones, stimulate the uterus, or promote menstruation (known as emmenagogues). For these reasons, some herbs should be completely avoided during pregnancy, including:

  • Angelica

  • Arnica

  • Black walnut

  • Blue flag

  • Black/blue cohosh

  • Catnip

  • Chicory

  • Comfrey

  • Dong quai

  • Ephedra

  • Elder

  • Feverfew

  • Henbane

  • Licorice

  • Lobelia

  • Wormwood

  • Mugwort

  • Red clover

During pregnancy, herbs should be used as gentle forms of nourishment, or as general health promoting tonics. There are many herbs that can provide additional vitamins and minerals to your diet, and also act as gentle aids in strengthening the digestive system, nervous system, liver, womb, and urogenital tract. Because they are naturally biochelated, their high vitamin/mineral content is easily assimilated. In most cases, smaller doses are best, and in general, herbs that are considered food or tonic herbs are safe to use during pregnancy. For example, dandelion, raspberry leaf, oat straw, and chamomile.

Always ask a qualified herbalist or health professional when introducing herbs during your pregnancy.

The following list of herbs have been deemed safe to use during pregnancy. Many of the following comes from one of my favorite go-to herbal books, Maria Gladstar’s Herbal Healing for Women.


The Classics:

  • Red Raspberry leaf (rubus idaeus and related species) - perhaps considered the herb for pregnancy, this is safe to use throughout all nine months; nourishes uterine muscles, high in iron, can help increase milk flow, restore the system after childbirth.

  • Chamomile flowers (matricaria chamomilla/matricaria recutita) - gentle, relaxing tea; can be combined with ginger for digestive disorders or morning sickness.

  • Ginger Root (zingiber officinale) - excellent for morning sickness and digestive problems.

Excellent nutritive aids:

  • Dandelion greens and root (taraxacum officinale) - potent source of vitamins and minerals; mild diuretic and can help eliminate excess water from the system; the root is primarily for digestive disturbances and for cleansing/toning the liver.

  • Nettle leaf (urtica dioica) - rich in vitamins and minerals, including calcium and iron. Can be good for energy for those who have chronic fatigue due to low iron.

  • Alfalfa - contains many nutrients and trace minerals, including Vitamin K, which is necessary for blood clotting. Many midwives advise this herb to help prevent hemorrhaging, decrease postpartum bleeding, and to increase breastmilk.

For soothing the nervous system, uterus, liver, and more:

  • Black Haw (viburnum prunifolium) - can help relieve leg cramps, calm uterine muscles.

  • Blessed Thistle (cnicus benedictus) - liver tonic, stimulates blood flow/enriches flow of mother’s milk.

  • Cramp Bark (viburnum opulus) - recommended by herbalists as preventative for miscarriage due to stress and anxiety; antispasmodic (relieves muscle cramps).

  • Lady’s Mantle leaves (alchemilla vulgaris) - tones the uterus, can help with morning sickness, and may help in preventing hemorrhaging during childbirth.

  • Lemon Balm leaves (melissa officinalis) - can help calm and relax the system, and digestive. Can be combined with nettle for those dealing with allergies during pregnancy.

  • Oat straw stalk and unripe fruit (avena sativa) - helps soothe the nervous system, can be a safe remedy for yeast infections during pregnancy.

  • Squaw vine (mitchella repens) - traditionally used by Native American women; often combined with red raspberry for toning the uterus.

My body, my choice, my birth

Rachel O'Reilly

Tiff Delancy

Tiff Delancy

By Aaryn Leineke

I’ll admit it. I am a bit indecisive about how I want to present this post. Should I state a bunch of facts that support how safe a home birth is? Could I suggest to others that home birth might be the best choice? Do I want to list all the reasons why a hospital birth is not right for me? Although doing all of those things might be helpful, none of those things really speak to the honest reverence I have for wanting a homebirth for my impending first child and any other children my husband and I might have in the future.  

Homebirth is instilled deep in my core, it runs through my veins and fills my body and mind with so much light and a passion I have lived for my entire life. I have photos and newspaper clippings of my mother and auntie fighting for their rights to have their own home birth and for the rights to legalize midwifery and homebirth everywhere. I have had the pleasure of watching my very own homebirth on video and ever since I can remember, I have marveled at photos of my mother working so hard to bring me earthside. She did this in her home, lovingly surrounded by those she trusted most to support her. Now, as a doula, I’ve been fortunate to assist with some incredible births at homes as well as many in hospitals.

Having a homebirth wasn’t a decision I had to think about once I became pregnant. There wasn’t any other way for me to even consider.  And when I say there isn’t any other way for me, it doesn’t mean that I’m not aware of complications that can arise in birth or even early on in pregnancy. I work very hard to stay current with my education on all of the important advances in obstetric care. I acknowledge and commend how far formal practices have come and how many lives have been saved over the years, in the last century particularly. That is precisely why, if and when I need any medical assistance, my baby and I will be taken care of both at home, with my very qualified midwife and/or in the hospital if we need to make a transfer for any reason.

One of the most frequent questions I am asked is how will my midwife know if something's not right? How will I make it to the hospital in time if I need to? What if something goes wrong? It’s actually really simple, my very qualified and licensed midwife is trained for this very thing along with countless other scenarios. She will be monitoring me and my baby continuously while in labor, just like she would at a hospital, and she will know if a transfer out of the home is needed. That decision is made well in advance in order to avoid an emergency situation, so there is time to get to a hospital to have any medical interventions that may be needed.

It is my fervent belief that if I am healthy and my baby is healthy the safest place for me to give birth is at home. And it’s the safest place for me, because home is where I feel most comfortable and relaxed and at peace and that is exactly the type of environment in which I want to bring my baby into this world. I have unshakable confidence with this decision. The real question is how can I convince anyone who is doubting me? It’s tricky because although I know what is best for me and my baby (as do all mothers and fathers), these doubts, whether they mean to or not, call into question my strength, my intelligence and my capability to make responsible decisions for myself and my baby. I know the answer is I can’t change others’ minds, but wouldn’t it be wonderful if everyone respected and celebrated women’s choices, especially when they differ from our own? This is why I will forever fight for a woman’s right to choose. And I am so thankful for my mother and aunties before me who fought, so I can choose and write my baby’s beautiful birth story.

Natural Remedies for Morning Sickness

Rachel O'Reilly


By Erica Favela 

Nausea and vomiting of pregnancy (NVP), also known as “morning sickness,” occurs in approximately two-thirds of pregnancies. In most cases, this occurs during the first trimester, but only about half of women are free from this symptom by week 14. In most cases, it is resolved by week 22

Regardless of how sick you may feel, you can rest assured that having morning sickness is not associated with negative affects on your growing child. Although many theories about nausea and morning sickness exist, the cause of NVP is still a mystery that even our advanced scientific research has not been able to consistently conclude. It can stem from a myriad of things, including nutritional imbalance, hormonal changes, altered thyroid function, stress, emotional blocks, and lifestyle habits.

Easing nausea and the general discomfort during the beginning months of pregnancy should be handled specifically to your unique lifestyle and health history. Because we still do not have conclusive evidence about the cause, it’s worth trying multiple things. All aspects should be considered here, both physiologic and psychological factors. As is the case with many things, there’s usually not one sole culprit. Rather, self-care and dealing with these symptoms can come from a mind, body, spirit approach.

For instance, was the pregnancy a surprise? It’s natural that with such news, feelings of fear, ambivalence, resentment, or other unresolved conflicts can arise, and our emotions can take on physical manifestation. Or consider your environment - do you work in a place where toxicity exposure should be considered? Are you feeling stressed or anxious about the future? Acupuncture and acupressure have been shown to be great aids of alleviating NVP, and are also excellent ways to slow down and de-stress.  While this post will only focus on nutritional aspects, be aware that food is only one part of the equation, and don’t forget to nurture your mental and emotional sides too.

Whether you’re already in the thick of NVP, or just want to know how you might handle it when the time comes, here are some nutrition basics:

Nutrient density. As previously mentioned in other posts, and probably obvious, eat a balanced, nutrient-dense, whole foods diet. This includes fresh vegetables, especially dark leafy greens, proteins, whole food fats like avocados, complex carbohydrates like summer/winter squashes, and plenty of fiber (which will naturally come in whole food form). Although nausea and vomiting are common, symptoms like these are the body’s way of coming back into balance. Eating foods that are unprocessed, organic, and in their whole form, will support the body with the raw materials it needs. 

Drink plenty of fluids. Dehydration can contribute to nausea and vomiting. Aim for at least half your bodyweight in ounces, and focus on fresh water or herbal teas (not juice, coffee, sodas, or other bottled beverages). Avoid large amounts of liquid at meals, as this can dilute digestive juices. Try ginger tea right upon waking in the morning. 

Aim to eat smaller meals more frequently. Eat in a relaxed state, and chew your food completely. This will help the stomach from emptying and blood sugar from dropping. Both of these are associated with nausea and vomiting. You may want to try eating first thing in the morning. 

Reduce high-fat foods. During pregnancy, bile (which is used to digest fats) can reduce, making high-fat foods harder to digest and potentially causing nausea. This does not mean you need to completely eliminate fatty foods, such as pastured butter, avocado, etc. Fats will be excellent in keeping blood sugar stable, and avoiding low blood sugar is helpful in preventing nausea. If fats are causing nausea, try eating your meal/snack with sour fermented foods, which can help digest the fats.

Take a prenatal multivitamin. This can support an already-healthy diet and due to restoring certain vitamins and minerals may help reduce NVP. If this is nauseating, try taking your vitamin during or after your meal.

Ginger. Ginger is well known for its long tradition of being used for reducing nausea, and clinical trials demonstrate its effectiveness during pregnancy. When enjoying ginger, you’ll also get the bonus of its carminative effects, which helps relieve gastrointestinal distress.  An easy way to enjoy the benefits of ginger root is in tea form. Grate 2-3 teaspoons of fresh ginger with hot water, adding honey and or fresh lemon juice to taste. Upon waking, sit up slowly and enjoy your tea. An alternative to fresh ginger tea, is this one by Yogi.  Other great herbs to try include raspberry leaf, mint, or chamomile tea.

Snacks. Keep easily digestible snacks on hand to keep blood sugar normal.

Consider Vitamin B6. This vitamin is essential for maintaining hormonal balance, proper immune function, chemical transmitters in the nervous system, and a deficiency in this vitamin is often associated with nausea and leg cramps. Clinical studies have shown that supplemental B6 can be helpful in conditions such as premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and morning sickness. Before supplementing, get enough of this nutrient via food from salmon, cooked spinach, avocado, poultry, gluten-free whole grains, legumes, bananas, seeds and nuts, potatoes, Brussels sprouts, and cauliflower. If considering supplementing, ask your healthcare provider or midwife about a high quality B6 supplement. 

Vitamins K and C. The effectiveness of these two vitamins occurs with their synergy - when used together, they have been shown to be clinically effective. A study cited in The Clinician’s Handbook of Natural Medicine reports that in one study, 91% of patients had complete remission of NVP in seventy-two hours.



Mama's herbal Tea

Rachel O'Reilly

By Aaryn Leineke

One of the greatest gifts I received in early pregnancy was a big beautiful jar of Mama’s herbal loose tea. It was from my dear friend Grace who I asked to be my doula for the most precious time my husband and I would have together, the birth of our first baby.

This herbal tea is a mixture of amazing and nourishing ingredients that help with nausea. Thus, the reasons it’s one of the essential products on my first trimester survival kit. It provides essential nutrients, while strengthening and toning the womb during and after pregnancy, which helps foster an ideal environment for a growing baby.

Ingredients to the special tea:

  • Organic Red Raspberry Leaf: This is the queen of herbs for women’s health. It’s medically proven to help strengthen the womb of a pregnant women and it is also reported to be effective in restoring the womb (uterus) after delivering. Drinking red raspberry tea is also great while menstruating and suffering from menstrual cramps.

  • Organic Alfalfa: Is said to ease morning sickness. It contains a wide variety of minerals including iron, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, sulfur, chlorine, sodium, potassium, silicon, and trace elements. It is also a good source of Vitamin E, Vitamin C and Vitamin K, which is necessary for blood clotting. Many midwives advise drinking mild tasting alfalfa tea or taking alfalfa tablets during the last trimester of pregnancy to decrease postpartum bleeding or chance of hemorrhaging.

  • Organic Nettle: A nutrient loaded with magnesium, calcium and iron, which are all excellent and essential minerals to ingest during pregnancy.

  • Organic Oatstraw: Rich in both calcium and magnesium, which work together in the body, with calcium stimulating muscles to contract and magnesium relaxing them. The way these elements work in a yin-yang way is why herbalists and midwives believe that oatstraw can be particularly valuable for pregnant women.

  • Organic German Chamomile: For centuries chamomile has been used as a mild relaxation remedy.

  • Organic Rosehip: Great source of vitamin C for boosting the immune system.

  • Organic Peppermint: Great for flavor It also helps with nausea and aids digestion.

Often, I would make my tea when I got home from work, and if I steeped extra I would store it in a jar in the fridge and have it served over ice the next day. Drinking this daily was such a wonderful way to treat myself to something delicious and nutritious. It was especially enjoyed while getting through my first trimester, particularly on rainy days while snuggling with my gorgeous man and sweet pup.

You can make this at home by finding the loose tea ingredients at your local natural grocery or herb store or even find some similar products on Etsy that can be delivered to your door. I would recommend measuring a quarter cup of each ingredient in a mixing bowl, give a light toss to mix together and store in a big glass mason jar that has a screw top to keep it fresh. For taste you can go a little heavier on the peppermint and lighter on the rosehip. Be sure to keep in a cool area away from moisture and direct heat (including sunlight).

First trimester exhaustion, blues and doubts

Rachel O'Reilly

A daily challenge I faced was finding ways to connect with my baby. Connect in a way that kept me excited while believing all is still well with the growth of this little embryo. Each day I would wonder, are you still in there little June Bug?  Are you growing and will you really be my baby come June 2017?

I found it hard to stay patient and trust all was going well with my body and my baby’s growth. I kept reminding my husband that we have to be cautious and not get too attached because it was still so early, and anything could happen. I would give him the statistics of miscarriages for first pregnancies, and he’d tell me to stop thinking that way. I didn’t intend to be negative, I just wanted to stay careful, and keep a safe distance just in case we’d be confronted by any sort of disappointment. I started to feel guilty about keeping a safe distance and not letting myself get too excited. And, often, I would ask myself “when will I start feeling love and admiration for this little being?”

The signs of my first trimester appeared like clockwork, with minimal challenging symptoms. Did I feel nausea? Yes. Maybe for a week or so. Did I feel exhausted? Yes. To say I slept a lot is an understatement. However, I could get through my day-to-day activities and 9 straight hours at the office with relative ease, but as soon as I got home I would pass out. After sleeping for hours, my husband would ensure I ate dinner and made it into bed with brushed teeth and a washed face. And then we’d do it all over again the next day. I made up for years of lost sleep in just the first 3 months of this pregnancy--it was actually amazing! All of this rest felt mostly guilt free because it happened during our coldest months of fall that lead into the craziest rainy winter we’ve seen in years. So, not going outside for a workout, or not making it to my yoga class because it was dark by 5pm was okay with me. I'd find myself being disappointed here and there with my lack of physical activity. But, rest was what my body needed (there was no choice in the matter really), so I let it do just that.

Finally my 12th week hit and we had our first prenatal meeting with our midwife, which meant we were going to attempt to hear the heartbeat of our growing baby for the first time. For weeks and weeks, I couldn’t help but want that day to just hurry up and arrive already! When our midwife came into the room she prioritized listening to the heart beat before everything else. It took some time but once she found it, and we were able to give my husband some time to distinguish the difference between my heartbeat and the baby’s on the doppler, we both were in tears. It was the best feeling finally knowing it was true. We were really having a baby (le swoon).

How did you stay patient and trust everything was going well with your body and your baby’s growth?  What are/were some of the biggest fears and challenges you faced during your first trimester?


Best Foods for Folate

Rachel O'Reilly

By Erica Favela 

One of the most widely known nutrients that is known to be important for pregnancy is folate. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend folic acid supplementation for all women of childbearing age because the biggest need is during the first trimester.

Folate works with vitamin B12 in many processes. It is especially important during pregnancy because of it’s role in DNA synthesis and cellular division. Right from conception, growth and cellular division begins. New DNA is required for new cells, and mother must increase her red blood cells, which requires folate.

Research has found that adequate supplies of folate can:

Folate comes from the Latin word folium, or foliage. This may help you remember that folate is found in green leafy vegetables including spinach, kale, beet greens, and swiss chard. Folate is naturally found in food, while folic acid is the synthetic compound often used in supplements or fortified foods. 

Try to eat these greens in their raw form, as folate is heat sensitive and cooking will diminish this nutrient. Here’s some examples of how to get in these greens:

  • Spinach salad tossed with pesto, sliced cherry tomatoes, and slice of salmon on top

  • Massaged kale salad with pine nuts and currants

  • Throw any combination of the above listed greens into a smoothie (see recipe below)! 

Here are some other go-to foods that have good amounts of folate (per 3.5 ounces) :

  • Black-eyed peas (prepared from dried beans, not canned) 440 mcg

  • Kidney beans 180 mcg

  • Mung beans 145 mcg

  • Asparagus 110 mcg

  • Lentils 105 mcg

  • Walnuts 77 mcg

When choosing any of the above beans, opt for dried beans that you soak and then cook. Canned beans will have gone through processing and manufacturing that can lower their nutritional content. For instance, once cup of cooked garbanzo beans (prepared from dried beans) versus the same amount of canned garbanzo beans will offer around ~275 mcg vs. ~75 mcg of folate, respectively.

Again, remember that nutrients work synergistically. Folate absorption is affected by zinc status, so don’t forget to eat high zinc foods. Foods that are highest in zinc are shellfish, oysters (cooked), and red meat. Others include nuts, seeds, eggs, and chicken. If you’re thinking that you need detailed charts that outline the varying amounts of different nutrients in all foods, and measuring so that you get everything you need, please reconsider!

The purpose of taking a deep dive into nutrients like folate is simply to showcase the powerful effects that nutrients have on our bodies (and growing babies), and to encourage you to do the planning that’s necessary for creating whole food meals, rather than quick-and-easy meal replacements or ready-made dinners that frequent many grocery store aisles. If you’re having trouble getting whole food meals on the table, check out Meal Planning 101


Mama's Go-To Green Smoothie

Here's an easy way to get some folate-rich greens in your day. This recipe also includes ginger, which is an excellent remedy for nausea. If struggling with digestion/constipation, add a tablespoon of chia seeds or fresh ground flax seeds. 

  • Large handful spinach or kale 

  • 1 cup water or coconut water 

  • 1/2 cup frozen mango chunks

  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil 

  • 1/2 inch grated ginger 

  • 1 scoop protein powder of choice or 1/2 cup full fat greek yogurt

  1. Add greens and water first. Blend 20 seconds. 

  2. Add the remaining ingredients and blitz until smooth. 

To make this into a "smoothie bowl," add 1/4 - 1/2 avocado for a thick texture and pour into a bowl. Top with toasted coconut flakes and sunflower seeds. Chewing helps with digestion and nutrient absorption. 


A conversation with Emma Casagrande - Mom and Shark Diver

Rachel O'Reilly

By: Courtney Ward


I’m fascinated by women who have really cool jobs and are Moms too. Being a working Mom myself, I know the juggle is real. Today we are featuring an interview with my friend, Emma Cassagrande; wife, mother, shark conservationist and world traveler. Let’s dive right in!


When we met several years ago on a whale shark diving trip in Mexico, you were hesitant to even get in the water. Now you frequently dive and photograph sharks with your husband for work! What changed?


That time 9 years ago when I met you in Holbox, Mexico was my very first time diving with such a big shark, a whale shark, and it truly was an incredible experience and feeling. I had been diving with reef sharks before but I had very little experience diving with sharks at that time.

Entering that big open water outside of Mexico with very little knowledge about these animals definitely made my heart rate go up, but it was also a mixed feeling of being super excited at the same time. I was able to get up close to one of  the sharks and seeing them underwater in that big open ocean made me fall in love with them.


After that experience, whale sharks are still one of my favorite sharks. They are the biggest shark in size but maybe the nicest shark in mind. They only eat plankton and small fish.They are safe to be around and a good shark to get to know and hang out with.


Your husband is an award winning cinematographer for Discovery Channel’s Shark Week and sometimes you get in the water and assist him too. How has becoming a Mother changed your perspective on the presumed dangers of that line of work?


Yes, my husband Andy Casagrande films sharks and other predators for a living. I'm originally from Sweden and 10 years ago I was travelling in Africa and very randomly I met Andy in the middle of the Serengeti where he was filming the lions for National Geographic during the whole summer.


We both fell for each other immediately and that’s where our journey started.

I ended up coming along on many shoots and learned on location.


Having 2 small children 1.5 and 3.5 years old, Nova Fina and Ace has definitely changed our life in every way. All to the better of course!


Safety wise I think that each and everyone one of us have a different perception about what safety is, and  it all depends on what you are use to doing and what your profession is. Statistically, driving in the car has a higher risks of accident than diving with sharks. But I definitely have higher awareness of danger now and embrace safety in every way possible!


How have you managed to continue doing what you love while raising two adorable toddlers?


Doing what we are doing with kids definitely needs more planning. We have brought my Mom along to the locations for help, so  we have been able to dive during day and be with kids/family in the evenings. My mom still lives in Sweden so we have been needing to plan more for sure.


Speaking of Sweden, you were born and raised there. Is the Swedish style of parenting different than the American? If so, what tips can you share with us?


I think Swedish and American parenting is similar in many ways. There’s a billion ways of doing something right. Even within the same country, there’s different beliefs on what’s right and what’s best. This is great because you can always find one study that supports your beliefs! Kids communicate with their parents the best, so listen to your child, go with your gut and do everything with love.


What’s scarier...the first time in the water with tiger sharks or your first night home with your baby?


(Laughs…) I don't know! It depends on if you are scared of sharks or not?

But going home with your newborn definitely tops every piece of emotion out there in every way!

Nothing can beat that!


How can we get involved and help you save the sharks?


Don't eat Shark Fin soup

Less plastic in the ocean

Create awareness through education

Inspire people to care for Sharks

You can become an shark angel at

Also check out


Any last words you want to share?

Love your little ones more than life and the rest will be just fine. Each and every one of them are born as perfect as they can be! And don't forget to love yourself equally as much! See the beauty in imperfection and see the world with love! Love sharks and have a happy, amazing 2017!


Thank you so much Emma, it was a thrill to speak with you. Click here <Link:> for more information about shark angels.


If you are a Mom who also has an exciting career, tell us about it in the comments section below.


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Benefits of Fermented Foods

Rachel O'Reilly


The process of fermenting food is a long practiced tradition that has been enjoyed by cultures around the world. In Japan, miso and natto are two types of fermented soy that are central to the cuisine. Throughout eastern and Central Europe, kefir is a widely consumed. And in Indonesia, tempeh is a traditional food. Today, foods like kimchi and sauerkraut are gaining as much attention as bone broth, and for good reason too! 

What is fermentation?

Fermentation is a process by which the starches and sugars in fruits and vegetables are transformed into lactic acid by lactobacilli, a type of bacteria present on the surface of all living things. Lactic acid is a natural preservative that prevents putrefying bacteria.

When fruits or vegetables are fermented, they become more digestible, and promote the growth of healthy flora in the gut.  The lactobacilli produce numerous helpful enzymes, antibiotic and anti-carcinogenic substances. They also support a healthy immune system, 70-80% of which resides in the gut.  A healthy digestive system will ensure optimal absorption of nutrients, and proper cleansing of metabolic waste and toxins. Among other things, healthy gut microbes:

  • promote normal gastrointestinal function
  • protect against infection
  • regulate metabolism
  • house the majority of immune cells

How it’s helpful for pregnancy  

Incorporating fermented, probiotic rich foods is important for anyone who wants optimal health, as it serves as the foundation for everything from having a strong immune system, to maintaining a healthy weight and happy mood. Women who are interested in getting pregnant, or who are already pregnant, will benefit from the strong foundational support that a healthy digestive system and flora can provide as their body takes course in the building of another human. Additionally, many mothers are often warned of harmful bacteria that can jeopardize pregnancy, such as listeria monocytogenes from soft unaged cheeses, for example. But having a healthy flora, especially if implemented prior to conception, can make susceptibility to these types of bacteria low. Fermented foods such as sauerkraut or lacto-fermented vegetables can also serve as a great source for women who crave sour foods. As an easy snack, enjoy some sauerkraut and diced avocado on gluten-free rice crackers, or wrap it up in a lightly toasted nori sheet. 

How to start incorporating into daily life

For many people, the taste of fermented foods is an acquired taste (remember the first time you tried beer?). The good news is, fermented foods are meant to be eaten as condiments, so you can start out small until you begin to like it.You can begin to support a healthy digestive system and flora with the following foods and beverages:

Dairy based:

- Look for those that are labeled “live and active cultures”

- Best to obtain from grass-fed cows and organic.

- Found from a local farmer would be ideal!

  • cultured butter/cream cheese/sour cream
  • kefir
  • lassi
  • yogurt (always get plain, full fat)

Vegetable based

- Should be labeled raw, and should be carried in the refrigerated section

  • Kimchee
  • Sauerkraut

Grain or Legume based

Note: heating and cooking will reduce living bacteria; choose organic/ non-GMO when possible

  • Miso
  • Natto
  • Tempeh


  • Kombucha
  • Water kefir, Coconut kefir
  • Beet kvass


Easy suggestions for daily intake:

  • 1-2 tablespoons of sauerkraut or kimchi with each meal
  • 1/2 cup of kombucha in the afternoon for a pick-me-up
  • 1/2 cup of live, active yogurt or kefir (try it in a smoothie)


To Co-Sleep or Not to Co-Sleep

Rachel O'Reilly

Ali Olives

Ali Olives

By Courtney Ward

There is much debate about co-sleeping with your newborn, and I recently came across this article that I thought was interesting. I like that it supports the idea of co-sleeping and shows how common it is in other countries.

I haven’t thought about this subject in a while, as my babe is four now, although we still encounter sleep issues more often than I would like to admit. But we feel this subject is a hot topic for new parents and something we want to delve into a bit deeper.

Personally, when my daughter was born, I did not plan to co-sleep at all. At first, we simply used the moses basket right next to our bed. I was nursing and getting up to move the baby in and out of it many times a night, which got old pretty fast (AKA, I got pretty lazy). When she was close to three months old I decided to bring her into bed after that first nighttime feeding.

I would not have done this if my husband wasn’t an extremely light sleeper and woke up several times to check on her. Poor guy! Our pediatrician also gave us several facts that helped support our decision to co-sleep that helped eliminate many of the common fears.

We discovered pretty quickly that our babe slept longer and better while in our bed, which is no real surprise. Especially since, as this article states, mother and baby’s sleep cycles sync during early motherhood. We also realize that for some families, a crib in another room or in the same room works best. The most important thing is that you (as in the parents) are able to sleep, and to choose the system that works best for you.

We are curious -- what has worked best for you in regards to newborn sleeping in your family? Please share in the comments below!

Wild Winter Wreaths: How-To with Eothen Floral

Rachel O'Reilly


Weaving wreaths is a creative, intentional way to bring the wilds of the outside to your home. Whether it’s to hang on your front door, above the mantle or maybe in your washroom (it’s your world, do as you please), your base-form dictates the wreath’s overall look. A double or quadruple wire frame will support lush, full materials similar to the holly, spruce and cedar composition. A single wire frame, such as the  minimalist circle with Tillandsia and succulent, will be airier. Building on the texture of a dried grapevine base makes for the most rustic interpretation, similar to the mixed-evergreen piece. Scout evergreens, bare branches, shrubs, and natural curiosities like feathers, stones and mushrooms that you’d like to weave into your wreath. You’ll need a few other supplies, which you can find at your local craft store, flower market or Amazon.


  • 26-gauge paddle wire

  • 28-gauge straight wire

  • Wire cutters

  • Stem cutters

  • Base frame

Let’s talk through how you would make a wreath similar to the holly, spruce and cedar number for a modern take on a classic winter look.

1. To cover your base form, begin by stacking a mix of two or three ingredients in your hand, trim the stems, and start wiring by wrapping paddle wire around the cut end of the packet. I tend to wrap in threes to help keep a firm hold. Repeat until you have enough packets to cover your base.

2. Begin layering from the upper left of the frame. Lay and hold the first packet against the frame using your left hand. Using your right hand, wrap your paddle wire, (currently connected to your first packet), behind and around the frame three times– making sure you’re keeping the wire taut as you go. Do not cut the wire!

**If you’re left-handed, start from the upper right.

3. Place the next packet in position so the top of packet #2 covers the bottom of packet #1. Continue layering and wrapping with your wire, moving your way down and around the frame as you go. Do not. Cut. The wire!

4. When you’ve completed your base layer, give yourself at  six-inches length of paddle wire and, ok, now cut the wire. Finish the loose end by wrapping and tucking until it’s secure and hidden.

5. Tuck in the gestural, natural bits (showy leaves, feathers, seedpods) by nestling them into the base layer’s wire wrapping, or some of the thicker greenery. You can further secure these pieces by threading in straight wire, twisting and tucking the en ds into the back of your wreath.

6. Hang your wreath, step back, and reflect on just how damn crafty you really are.

Hospital Visitor Etiquite: Newborn

Rachel O'Reilly

By: Aaryn Leineke

I recently wrote a post about hospital etiquette for labor and delivery (for those that are not on the delivering mother’s immediate support team). It could pretty much be summed up in two words: “don’t go.”

Once baby has arrived, after mom and others on the birth team have caught up on rest, is when it’s generally okay to make a visit. But, the only way to know of when the right time has come is when you’ve received the invite. I know, it’s hard to keep your excitement under control, but if you don’t receive the invite to come by the hospital, don’t be offended or take it personally. It just means mom, dad, and baby are soaking in this very precious bonding time, and trying to still get the rest they need after delivery.

If you do receive the invite to come by the hospital, be mindful of a few things:

  • Keep your visit short, no more than 1 hour.

  • Come with your loved one’s favorite snack or meal.

    1. Hot burrito from your local taqueria

    2. Fresh pressed juice or smoothie

    3. Handcrafted sandwich from the favorite corner deli.

  • Bring their favorite six pack of beer or bottle of bubbly and make a toast to the newest member of the family! Don’t forget the glassware (or paper cups), as well as a bottle opener.

  • Flowers to brighten their stay while in the hospital.

  • Don’t forget you’re bringing them to a hospital, not a home. Make sure flowers are already in a vase with little wrapping and trash to dispose of in their room.

  • Most important: Unless they specifically request it, DON’T bring your child. Keep your own infant, toddler or young child at home with your significant other, or babysitter. This is most important for a couple reasons:

    1. Keeping a quiet calm space.

    2. Keeping germs from the newborn baby.

    3. Keeping your attention on the new mother, father and baby.

If you do not receive the invite to come by the hospital after birth, there are still a few thoughtful ways to show your love and support:

  • Order a meal to be delivered to the hospital if you know they are craving something outside of hospital food.

  • Have flowers delivered to their room (make sure they come with a vase).

  • Offer your time to get the house ready for their arrival.

  • Group up with other friends and family members, and send a house cleaner to make sure the house is in order for your loved ones’ first days back from the hospital.

  • Bring a group of family and friends together to create a meal train for the new parents first few weeks of parenthood at home.

  • Maybe stock up their fridge with fresh goodies so they don’t have to worry about anything when they first step in their front door.

Remember that every new family needs lots of support in their first weeks with a new baby. Even if you don’t see them at the hospital, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to make their lives a little easier in the days that follow. Check out these Newborn Visitor Guidelines for you when do receive that invite.

Optimize Your World: The Best Hacks, Services and Apps to Make Life Easier

Rachel O'Reilly


Ever thought of a great lifehack or business idea that would make your day-to-day a little easier and thought, “if only that existed…”? Well, thanks to technology, app developers and service providers who get it, a lot of those things you dream of actually probably exist. We’ve put together a list that will bring more ease and organization into your life… Consider this a master guide for optimizing your world.

Extra Help & Organization

Having a an extra pair of hands to help with everything from running errands to cleaning the house can be a lifesaver, especially during those weeks when it seems like the whole world is needing your attention at once. Here are some on-demand services that will help you delegate away the stress.

  • Task Rabbit: Need someone to build that piece of furniture you ordered? Can’t figure out how to fix the garbage disposal? Need someone else to run the errands? Task Rabbit can help with all of that and more…

  • Thumbtack: The go-to for any type of “pro” you might need, from house painters to personal trainers and everything in between. Best part? Read reviews for all of them before you make a decision!

  • Keyring: Keeps all your loyalty and membership cards in one place -- and off your key ring. It’s 2016- there’s an app for that.

  • Cozi: Touts itself as the “Family Organizer” app and allows for you to keep track of everything from doctors appointments to soccer games in one place… We really like the part where you can make joint shopping / to-do lists, so your partner and you can just look at the app and know what to do… Magic!


When you have a growing family, organization and storage become more important. Our recommended companies come right to your door and - voila! All of the logistics are handled and your items are safe and organized.

  • Closet Box: Picks up your items for free and delivers them back to you whenever you need them. They charge based on the amount of space your items take up, so it’s a great excuse to purge before the pick-up!

  • Omni: If you live in the Bay Area, Omni is an intuitive storage solution. This awesome team will pick up your stuff, photograph each item, and store it in a secure facility. You can view all your stored items via their app, and when you need it, have them deliver items back to your home or office. Or, you can even send things to friends or family to borrow. Like, how often do you really use that tent? It’s great to be able to effortlessly share the things you don’t use often, without having them take up space in your home when not in use. It’s a win-win. Plus, you only pay per item, per month, which means no contracts or wasted space.

On-Demand Sitters & Help Around the House:

Leaving your heart (aka child) with another human being can a very scary thing! Luckily, there are services that can send qualified sitters to your door, so you can breathe easy and enjoy your date night.

Pampering & Self Care

The pre-kid self care and beauty routines can easily slip away and become a distant memory when you’re busy chasing babies around. Here are some easy ideas to bring a little pampering and pep back into your step, right from home. We love to use these services for at-home dates with your honey, or to help you get ready for some fabulous event, work function, or a zexy occasion!

Hair and Make-up:


Car & Transportation

Need a 4-wheel drive car for a snow trip? A bigger car to fit the whole family and your stuff for a weekend away? Or, maybe you’re just cool enough that you only need a car, sometimes! In any case, you can get your hot wheels across the country thanks to these great car share companies:

  • Get Around

  • Zipcar

  • Turo

  • Car2Go

  • Family road trips and camping are leveled-up when you’re cruising in a JUCY! Check these things out; they come equipped with a fridge, two gas stoves, sink, and two double beds (not to mention a flat screen TV, in case you need a break from road trip games).

  • Uber now offers rides with car seats for an extra $10 so your little one can travel with you on the fly.

  • New baby can often mean a new car… If you’re in California, you’re in luck! Roadster makes it easy for you to buy a new car without stepping foot into a dealership. For a low fee, they do the negotiating for you and deliver the car to your door, along with a friendly concierge that makes sure you know how to use it.

Technology and the pace at which the world is changing can sometimes feel overwhelming, but it’s good to see the positively awesome ways tech can more deeply connect us to our values, relieve us of tedious tasks, and give us more time to be with our family. Not to mention, many of these services help to lower emissions, benefiting the environment and our collective future as well.

If you’re looking for more ways to optimize your family flow, we’re big fans of meal delivery services, and check out our post about earth-friendly diapers (which includes helpful diaper pickup and delivery services).

Are we missing anything? What apps or services keep you sane?