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Filtering by Tag: pregnancy

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?


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.


Rachel O'Reilly


By Aaryn Leineke

Breastmilk is BEST for your baby. The immeasurable benefits of breastfeeding are not just for your baby, but for your body and health as well. Below are scientifically-supported facts on why breastfeeding is so important.

It’s best to solely breastfeed for the first six months, if all is well with your body and lactation. It’s great to breastfeed as much as you can and supplement part-time with organic, high-quality formula (or donated breast milk). It's good to feed your baby formula if you are not able to produce milk, and it's wonderful to consider donated breast milk if you are willing to do the research and build an amazing, special community of contacts, such as Human Milk for Human Babies or Mothers Milk Bank.

However you decide or are able to feed your baby, know that there are many who believe breastfeeding is a beautiful thing and there is nothing to hide. Realize our breasts are attached to us for one reason alone: to provide food and comfort for our babies at any time and any place. 

Studies from around the world have proved the health benefits of breastfeeding. The risk of stomach virus, lower respiratory illness, ear infection and meningitis occurs less often in breastfed babies, and are often less severe when it does. Exclusive breastfeeding (meaning no solid food, formula or water) for at least six months seems to offer the most protection.

Breast milk is a unique nutritional source that cannot be adequately replaced by any other food, including infant formula. Although pollutants can accumulate in breast milk, it remains superior to infant formula from the perspective of overall health of both mother and child.

Infants are fragile and susceptible to disease, partly because their bodies are not yet fully developed. They must be treated with special care and given adequate nourishment. Infant formulas mimic a few of the nutritional components of breast milk, but formula cannot duplicate the vast and constantly changing array of essential nutrients in human milk. Nevertheless, breastfeeding is often devalued; both in the United States and abroad, and in many parts of the world it must compete with relentless advertising by infant formula companies. 

The main immunological key is a substance called secretory immunoglobulin A (IgA), present at large concentrations in colostrum, the first milk your body produces for your baby (secretory IgA is present at lower concentrations in mature breast milk). The substance guards against invading germs by forming a protective layer on the mucous membranes in your baby's intestines, nose and throat.
Your breast milk is specifically tailored to your baby. Your body responds to pathogens (virus and bacteria) that are in your body and makes secretory IgA specific to those pathogens, creating protection for your baby based on whatever you're exposed to.

Benefits for Baby:

  • Breastfeeding's protection against illness lasts beyond your baby's breastfeeding stage, too. Studies have shown that breastfeeding can reduce a child's risk of developing certain childhood cancers. Scientists do not know exactly how breast milk reduces the risk, but they believe antibodies in breast milk may give a baby's immune system a boost.

  • Breastfeeding may also help children avoid a host of diseases that strike later in life, such as Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol and inflammatory bowel disease (IBS). In fact, preemies given breast milk are less likely to have high blood pressure by the time they're teenagers. For babies who aren't breastfed, researchers have documented a link between lack of breastfeeding and later-development of Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis.

  • Breastfeeding can possibly protect your baby from developing allergies. Studies have shown babies who are fed a formula based on cow's milk or soy tend to have more allergic reactions. Scientists believe immune factors, such as secretory IgA, help prevent allergic reactions to food by providing a protective layer to a baby's intestinal tract. Without this protection, inflammation can develop and the wall of the intestine can become "leaky." This allows undigested proteins to cross the gut, where they can cause an allergic reaction and other health problems.

Benefits for Mama:

  • Breastfeeding can reduce your stress level and your risk of postpartum depression.* The National Institutes of Health reviewed more than 9,000 study abstracts and concluded that women who didn't breastfeed, or who stopped breastfeeding early on, had a higher risk of postpartum depression. *Note: if you're being treated for depression, you can still breastfeed your baby. Your healthcare practitioner can help you identify safe ways to treat your depression while nursing.

  • Breastfeeding may reduce your risk of some types of cancer. Numerous studies have found that the longer women breastfeed, the more they're protected against breast and ovarian cancer (for non-smokers only). For breast cancer, nursing for at least a year appears to have the most protective effect. It's not clear how breastfeeding helps, but it may have to do with the structural changes in breast tissue caused by breastfeeding, and the fact that lactation suppresses the amount of estrogen your body produces.

  • Studies are finding new benefits of breastfeeding all the time. For example, the May 2010 issue of “Pediatrics” published a study showing that babies who are breastfed are less likely to have fevers after their immunizations than babies who are formula fed.

Breastfeeding is natural - but that doesn't necessarily mean it's easy. Chapped, cracked nipples, rock-hard breasts, constant leaking and milk-soaked bras are just a few of the side-effects; it takes a lot of dedication to breastfeed. But the benefits outweigh the challenges! Don't hesitate to contact your healthcare provider or a certified lactation consultant if you need help or support.

The Benefits of Baby Carriers - for Dads

Rachel O'Reilly

By Aaryn Leineke

First and foremost, dads who wear babies are sexy. It’s just a fact. When you are a dad, and you are seen to be very hands on, proactive with the kids and eager to help out around the house it's a known turn on for us ladies. Below are a few types of carriers that can be used by both moms and dads and are really easy to use, once you’ve taken the time to learn.

A few types of baby carriers:

K’tan - I love this product and just recently tried it on my sweet nephew Koji B. It’s a baby carrier that “slips on like a shirt, with no wrapping or buckling!”

ERGObaby - 360 Carrier - I love that they finally developed a product for ergonomic wearing not just the mom, but conscientious of the baby’s ergo needs, too. Make sure to follow the directions and buy the infant insert when using from 0-4 months.

Moby Wrap - This company is a wonderful company that is a huge advocate for baby wearing. From my understanding it can be tricky to learn how to use, but once you do it a few times, you’ll get the hang of it!

Many first-time parents forget that you can use these amazing carriers around the house as well; they’re not just to use while on-the-go or running errands. For example, Dad can wear the baby at home, either while watching his favorite sports game, doing mild chores around the house or working outside in the garden (while keeping the baby fully protected from sun, of course). Unlike most trips out in public (depending on where you’re headed), you can use home time to enforce extra skin-to-skin contact with your newborn. Hanging at home with your shirt off, carrying your baby with the support of one of the products above, will be surprisingly fulfilling. There are so many benefits for babies and dads when they have this physical contact for extended periods of time. Below are some of these benefits for the babies, dads and even moms.

Benefits for Baby:

  1. Accelerates brain development

  2. Calms, soothes and reduces stress

  3. Improves quality of sleep

  4. Enhance immune system

  5. Stimulates digestion and weight gain

  6. Synchronizes heart rate and breathing

Benefits for Dad:

  1. Promotes psychological well-being

  2. Allows the chance to connect with your baby like you were unable to before (while in the womb)

  3. Allows for multitasking

Benefits for Mom:

Gives mom a break. Physically, emotionally and mentally, mom can check out knowing her precious new baby is safe in dad’s arms (or, strapped to his chest). Moms can use this much-needed time to sleep, call a dear friend, take a shower and run a few errands or take some alone time on a walk, if her body is recovered from birth. The benefits are endless!

Do you have a favorite baby carrier? Please share any of your top picks with us, and why! Dad’s out there, we’d love your opinion as well. :)


Reasons To Choose Natural Lube

Rachel O'Reilly

By Aaryn Leineke

I recently read a post from one of my favorite blogs, Goop, in which they had interviewed a naturopath doctor, and it was spot on to questions my fellow Cherish members had been asking me about pregnancy, sex and lube. So many people are in the dark about pregnancy in general. But, who ever talks about sex during pregnancy?! Nobody. Most people don’t know that sex during pregnancy is highly encouraged! But is sex always on your mind while pregnant? Not always.

For those in the first trimester who suffer from extreme fatigue or nausea, sex can seem like a chore. When you are less excited by the idea of sex but still want that intimacy with your partner, it may take extra foreplay and even a little help from natural lube to get things going.

Why is natural lube such an important thing to keep in mind? Most of the popular lubes on the market contain parabens. Using lubricants with toxic ingredients, like parabens, has a direct effect on our reproductive system, since the vagina and anus are highly permeable areas. Anything applied to these surfaces can be absorbed directly into the body.

Parabens are a common preservative in most cosmetics that are used to prevent bacterial overgrowth. Exposure to parabens has been associated with cancer and reproductive health issues and hormone imbalances like fibroids, endometriosis, infertility and PMS. Parabens have actually been found inside breast tumor cells, which could imply that our systems do not efficiently metabolize and eliminate them from our bodies.

In addition to parabens, many standard lubes have other potential toxins in them as well, so when it’s time for you to get down and dirty with your loved one (pre, post-pregnancy or during*), make sure to use a natural lube, like one of the options we’ve listed below. A good rule of thumb is that if it’s safe to eat, it’s generally safe to apply.** :)

Natural Lubes that are free from preservatives:

  1. Organic Coconut Oil

  2. Organic Olive Oil

  3. Organic Aloe Vera Gel

  4. Organic Almond Oil

*Oils do compromise the integrity of latex, so don’t use with latex condoms. Lubricants can also affect sperm motility, so if trying to conceive, avoid using lube as much as possible, and spend a little extra time on foreplay to get body’s natural lubricant going.

**If you are using a natural, organic, food-based lubricant without any side effects, continue to use and enjoy the benefits. If you are experiencing any discomfort or are prone to yeast or bacterial infections, then staying away from both natural and synthetic lubricants are best.