Turn up the heat on your winter fitness routine

January, the quintessential month for fitness and health resolutions, is arguably one of the crappiest times to start a new fitness regimen. The New Year holiday notwithstanding, in much of the United States, January and February often land you right in the heart of winter when outdoor swims are completely out of the question, outdoor running and cycling can you leave you frigid (or on.your.face. – black ice is a thing, y’all), and the motivation to “just get out and walk” can be at an all-time low. Unless of course you live somewhere tropical. In which case we’re not mad, just jealous.

So,  if your are struggling with how to add some variety to your winter routine, how to stay motivated through a cold spell a polar vortex February, or how to propel your New Year’s goals past the winter doldrums (AKA February), you ARE NOT ALONE. And you can do it! We are here to tell you, wholeheartedly to

bundle up, but DO NOT give up!

Between us, we have 10 postpartum fitness recoveries, a marathoner, a couple of cross-fitters, a few yogis, and a personal trainer. Here are our favorite ways to stay on track through winter weather, whatever your fitness level or style.

people exercising inside brown painted room

Hot Yoga

Don’t let the name scare you. This is nothing different than yoga in your living room except with a fancy heater.  There are now a variety of vinyasa or “flow classes” offered in heated studios as well as the traditional Bikram classes usually done somewhere between 84-110 degrees. Which, this winter feels about as close to a tropical vacation as we’re going to get. Several studios offer a weekly “community class” at reduced rates and offer student/military discounts.  As a former hater, “I sweat enough in regular yoga” I said… I have converted! I urge everyone to just GO. Don’t forget to pre-hydrate well and tell the instructor if you’re a beginner. Plus based on a 2018 Texas State University study, doing hot yoga can significantly lower body fat.* Which sounds on point for any New Year’s health resolution if I do say so myself. Take that, February.

athlete bike black and white cycle

Spinning

No icy trails to hold you back, and all the calories to burn. Spinning is particularly great because you can pace yourself, and control resistance yourself, BUT still have the benefit of trying to beat everyone else in the room. (Wait, is that just us?) Spinning is an intense cardio session that will leave your heart rate high, your motivation soaring, and pretty much guaranteed… your T-shirt soaked. No snow days for spin bikes.

sweat pics
Photo Credit: Sweat by Kayla Itsines

App based Circuit workouts

With great equipment-free workouts literally in the palm of your hand, your winter excuses run out. Lucky for you, there are several outstanding fitness apps that provide killer circuit routines with full equipment work-outs for the gym OR with zero equipment necessary for at-home use (Read: In your living room lunging with a child on your shoulders. Yea, it works.) A few of our favorite apps are featured in our Best Fitness App post, and lately we’re digging Kayla Itsine’s Sweat App and the free Daily Cardio App as well.  If you don’t want to subscribe to an app to do this training at home, let it be known that we fully support kitchen cardio-dance parties. (Cocktail, optional.)

three woman in assorted color sport bras holding and watching their smartphones

Phone a friend

Winter weather is much less likely to dissuade us if we know there is a friend holding us accountable for a missed workout. Ideally, we should all show up for ourselves. But especially when you are trying to set a new routine or if you know you have a tendency to sell yourself short, have a friend hold you accountable! Meet a friend at the gym or just ask someone to help hold you to your schedule by texting you to pony up when you say you will. You can also get this in a major way through class accountability. Crossfit, as one of many examples, has daily scheduled classes that help create friendships, workout buddies, and before you know it BAM….you have your accountability texts right there.

So get out there and get your fitness goals on… the cold need not bother you, anyway!

Sources

*Effects of yoga interventions practised in heated and thermoneutral conditions on endothelium-dependent vasodilatation: The Bikram yoga heart study. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29349832

 

b8fd0f48-abdd-41a9-9b27-0b537b307a55We are moms to 10 kids, marathon runners, yogis, spinners, cross-fitters, gym-buddies, and kitchen dance party enthusiasts that believe fitness should always be a part of your life, even if it is -7 degrees.  And even if you dance with a cocktail.

We are Real As A M*ther.

Strong Women Series: Tackling Addiction with Compassion

Every day, millions of lives are touched by the disease of addiction. Whether personally, or through the eyes of family members or dear friends, many of us have watched and hoped while those we love fight their battle with addiction. According to the Surgeon General’s 2016 report, Facing Addiction in America, one in seven Americans will experience a problem with alcohol or drug abuse in their lifetimes, approximately 20 million Americans have current substance use disorders, and 78 Americans are dying from overdose every day.  Addiction knows no boundaries, and touches all walks of life and socioeconomic statuses, from celebrity to poverty.

addiction antibiotic capsules cure

Introducing Mary Page Shinholser

It is through this lens, that I am proud to introduce an amazing woman that I most definitely look up to, despite being almost 9 years older than her.  I first came to know Mary Page Shinholser through Crossfit, about a year ago, and found the more I got to know her, the more I admired her. I had only heard bits and pieces of her story, but I always found her energy positive and relatable.

One of the many reasons Mary Page is a hero to me is because she clearly answered a call from the universe to help, and teaches from her own personal experiences with addiction and empowers people to reclaim their world from its clutches.  Another is that she follows this call inexhaustibly, never failing to touch people and remind them that they are NOT ALONE. Ever.

In her words…

Here is Mary Page Shinholser’s story, in her own words:

Hello blog world! I’m here to tell you a little about me, what I do in the addiction and recovery field, and why it matters.

My experience in this world is long and personal. I have lost count of the funerals I have been to of those who have overdosed or had an addiction-related death. Some of the most amazing people in my life are in recovery. My father, step mother, three uncles, both grandfathers, a few good friends, two cousins, and a former boyfriend all are in recovery from Substance Use Disorders (SUD). They are kind, hard working, and compassionate people that as a child, I looked forward to spending the evenings with, either at Narcotics Anonymous meetings after school in a basement church, at cookouts, campouts, or holiday parties. I used to write some of my parent’s friends letters while they were in jail.  

MP and Dad
Me and my Father

I was always proud of the world I grew up in. I had a fantastic childhood. I vividly remember my very first drug talk at the age of seven, and my first drug test. Drug tests were kept on top of our fridge, and my first one was administered at the age of 12. I knew no different, in fact I was shocked to find out that most other kids didn’t grow up the way I did.

The first time I experienced the stigma attached to the disease of addiction (yes, disease, I’ll touch on that a bit later), was in middle school. I wanted to have a sleep over and my friend’s parents wouldn’t let her come over to my house because, she said “my mom said no because your dad is a drug addict.” I didn’t understand, and my little broken heart said “my dad is NOT a drug addict. He’s in NA, he is clean, and has been clean since before I was born! HE WORKED THE STEPS!” I was distraught. I cried, a lot. I guess that is where the educator in me was first born. 

Fast forward 15 years. I’m teaching 8th grade civics and economics and loving it. When I was told by the county that I wouldn’t have a job the following school year, I was absolutely crushed. Here I was, finally loving what I do and I was damn good at it. I had a 94% SOL passing rate, (do you know how hard that is to achieve with middle schoolers obsessed with Instagram and Fortnite?) I was coaching Track and Field, and I was making a difference. 

Throughout this period in my life, the opioid epidemic was at an all time high, and it really pissed me off. I heard this little voice in the back of my head saying, “Mary Page. DO. SOMETHING.” Well, the universe heard me. Soon after that, I had a recruiter reach out to me on LinkedIn and asked me, “Have you ever thought about teaching people about addiction and recovery?”

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Me with my Dad and Stepmom

“Well, Hell YEAH!” I thought, and a few interviews later, I received an offer that I just could not refuse. I landed a Community Relations role with a treatment center that truly is on a mission to provide the best high-level treatment and care in the field. #winningforeveryone

My job is to travel around the state of Virginia, let people know who I am, who we are, what we do, and how we do it. I get to talk to people in probation and parole, inmates, counselors, doctors, lawyers, politicians, school counselors, and beyond. I not only get to teach people about treatment, but I also get to give people hope. I get to tell people they’re not alone. I get to give people a first, second, third, or fourth chance at a better life. Most importantly, however, I get to educate people into getting the right treatment options for them. And if we are not right for them, I point them in the direction of the best fit for their recovery.

What is SUD?

SUD is categorized and defined as a disorder and mental illness by the American Psychiatric Association and is listed in the most recent version of the DSM-5. There are three subclassifications (mild, moderate, and severe) that fall into four major categories: impaired control, social impairment, risky use, and pharmacological criteria.

Brain
Photo Credit The Recovery Research Institute

Addiction is not a one size fits all disease. There is no single treatment that works for everyone who walks through our doors. There is no chemotherapy, blood transfusion, surgery, or transplant that can cure it. It is pure hard work. Tackling recovery, whether it’s your first time or your twentieth, is majorly hard. It is emotional and it is raw.

In a way, I have found my purpose in life through this new role I am in. I want to educate people not only on addiction, but also on mental illness in general. There are so many diseases and disorders out there that people know nothing about, but cast judgement upon it, which makes it so much harder for people to reach out and get the help they need. If I can reach one small group of people, or even just one person, and let them know, “Hey, I see you. I will help you. I love you, and you are not nor will you ever be alone. I will fight with you and I will fight for you,” then I can sleep soundly at night.  

I want to end this post with two things. First, if you or anyone you know are struggling or even showing small signs of SUD, reach out and ask for help. It is out there and it is closer than you think. Second, be kind and be compassionate.

The human race has mastered the art of covering things up with a smile. You never know when you’ll be faced with SUD head on, but I can guarantee you this; this community is strong, this community is welcoming, and this community is filled with fighters.

I will say it again, so you can hear it. You are Not Alone.

Feeling Inspired?

Big thanks to Mary Page for telling her inspiring story! For more resources and further reading on SUD and addiction, check out the Surgeon General’s full report on Addiction in America, or this fantastic TED talk by Johann Hari. And please, pay your knowledge and compassion forward. Share the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) website and free confidential helpline: 1-800-662-HELP (4357) with those you love. The SAMHSA offers 24/7, 365-day-a-year treatment referral and information service (in English and Spanish) for individuals and families facing mental and/or substance use disorders. Let’s commit to saying it loud, together: YOU ARE NOT ALONE.

Stay tuned, because Mary Page has an awesome Podcast launching later this month entitled “Ment”. It will primarily focus on mental and behavioral health issues that fly under the radar. People who have suffered from these disorders will be given a platform to share their stories, how they reached a point to seek recovery, and how their recovery is thriving. The hope behind this new endeavor for Mary Page is to pay recovery forward. To allow people to know that you are “Ment” to be right where you are in your journey.  You can look for more updates as they come on our Real As A Mother social media sites.

 

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Kristy is a birth doula, massage therapist, homesteader, mother of two, and supporter of strong women in Virginia.

 

 

Balls of Energy

I’ve gotten a few requests for more specific recipes for the energy bites from our How to Spoil A New Mama post, so here are 2 faves, adapted from this Family Circle article. These are a good project to do with younger kids if you’re looking for activities but also come together super fast, no bake, lickity split if you make them by yourself 😉

Cocoa-nut Almond

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Photo Credit: Family Circle

In a large bowl, mix together:

  • 2/3 C Chunky Almond Butter
  • 1/2 C dark chocolate chips
  • 1/2 C organic old fashioned oats
  • 1/2 C shredded unsweetened coconut
  • 1/4 C cocoa powder
  • 2 Tbs maple syrup
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract or vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp salt

When dough comes together (it takes a bit of work to get it all mashed up – it shouldn’t be too sticky or fall apart, add a little extra cocoa if too sticky, or extra maple syrup if won’t come together), refrigerate covered for 30 minutes. Form into 1 TBS sized balls and roll in more shredded coconut. Makes ~20.

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Photo Credit: Better Almond Butter

If you want to upgrade this one, try making it with Better Almond Butter, toasted version. This awesome small-batch almond butter is organic, non-GMO and uses sprouted almonds which takes out the enzymes that make it hard to fully absorb all the nutrients from almonds. Plus it’s freaking delicious! Not an ad, just a personal recommendation.

Very Berry

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Photo Credit: Family Circle

In ziplock bag, crush 3/4 C freeze-dried raspberries

In large bowl, mix:

  • 1/3 of the crushed raspberries
  • 2/3 C Cashew butter
  • 1/4 C chopped roasted cashews
  • 2/3 C organic old fashioned oats
  • 1/2 C white chocolate chips
  • 1/2 C apple-juice sweetened dried cranberries
  • 2 Tbs honey
  • 1/4 tsp salt

When dough comes together (again, it takes a bit of work to get it all mashed up – add a little extra raspberry if too sticky, or extra honey if won’t come together), refrigerate covered for 30 minutes. Form into 1 TBS sized balls and roll in the remaining raspberry. Makes ~20.

Happy snacking!

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Dr. Annie is a mom of 3 and constant snacker in California.

How to Spoil A New Mama

The transition from expecting, to being a new mom of a babe outside the womb is one of the absolute craziest life changes a human can experience. One day, you’re the object of everyone’s attention, being helped and fawned over by friends and strangers alike. The next thing you know, BAM! All the attention is on the new little miracle and you’re left in the shadows with your deflated-balloon belly and under-eye bags for days.

crescent moon and cloud wind chimes

As mamas to a collective 10 little people, we are often asked about the best things to bring, give, or do for a new mother.  Assuming that family and friends have already set the new mama up with the basic necessities to survive those first couple months (registry items, meals, diapers, etc.), we’ve listed here a few ways to go one step beyond and make that new mom feel not just like she’s surviving but that she’s spoiled and loved as much as the adorable little being she just birthed. Here are some of our favorite recommendations for new mamas, from mamas who have beentheredonethat.

The Spa Treatment

New moms obviously won’t likely get to go TO an actual spa while they’re on the feed-change-rock rollercoaster of newborn life. Here are a few easy gifts to make her feel pampered in the same way.

Good Dry Shampoo

Showers can be few and far between.  Let alone showers long enough to wash one’s hair. Help a mother out by getting her one of these top dry shampoos to fake it:

R+Co Death Valley Dry Shampoo, 6.3 oz.
R+Co Death Valley Dry Shampoo
Living Proof Perfect Hair Day Dry Shampoo 4.0 oz Pack of 2
Living Proof Perfect Hair Day

 

 

Excellent Lip Balm

When you’re trying to keep hydrated for two, your lips get chapped like no other. Treat a mama to one of these:

it Cosmetics je ne sais quoi Color Awakening Balm in ‘your perfect pink’ starts out clear but changes to the perfect rosy tint to complement you once it’s on. And Smith’s Rosebud salve is a classic, but the tin can be hard to open one-handed, go with the tube trio!

Moisturizer

Same goes for skin! A non-toxic, yummy smelling lotion or body oil can make you feel refreshed even if you just used a baby wipe to towel off a massive spit up in lieu of showering. Nuxe Huile Prodigieuse can be used on every outside part of your body – face, hair, and body – making it super easy to slap some on when you’re jumping out of your 2 minute shower when your baby’s crying, and smells like you just went to Paris and spent the day in a fancy boutique. (A girl can dream…)

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At Home Facial

Help mama look a *little* less tired than she is with one of these easy treatments – all wearable while walking around bouncing a fussy babe:

Sheet masks! Go simple with a variety pack from Target or deluxe from Sephora – no matter what, these pamper and then can be tossed in the trash. For the inevitable under-eye (ahem, Prada) bags, Nerium hydrogels and eye serum – we’ve talked about this wonder duo before. No need to beat a dead horse but if you want to knock out some serious undereye bags in 20 minutes flat, this is how to do it!

Aromatherapy

A well-placed candle or diffuser has the power to make a room feel clean and fresh even when it’s nothing close to that.  (Because, well, did we mention the feed-change-rock rollercoaster?) Here are some faves:

 

The Baies Dyptique candle makes any space smell as fresh as a garden, even when you are feeling anything but fresh, and the Noodle and Boo diffuser is subtle enough for the nursery, and sweet enough to make you forget about your toddler’s crusty mac and cheese plate in the sink.

Bebe Luxe

Having a few luxury baby items can also brighten the most mundane baby care moments and new mamas may not want to spend the money on these, admittedly nonessential but oh-so-nice-to-have, items.

Monogrammed Burp Cloths

Burp cloths literally become part of your wardrobe as a new mom. Why not make them cute?! Personalized cloths make for a lovely gift, and one that keeps on giving for years – we’ve been known to wipe toddler faces, noses, and just about everything else with these pretty little things. After all, if you’re going to be covered in baby (toddler, and child) puke, why not feel monogrammedly-fabulous about it?! Exactly.

monogram cloth
This thing has been trashed and washed about 14,000 times and is still looking fab.

 

If you have the skill set to make these yourself – you win. If you (like us) don’t, there are fortunately a variety of styles available from a number of sellers on Etsy. We purchased ours from a lovely shop called The Letter Garden.

The Fancy Baby Lotion

Babies, especially newborn babies, smell amazing. Their sweet fuzzy heads and little toes… Oh! Too. Much. Sweetness.

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Photo credit: Deanna Casey Photography

However, babies have their share of smelly moments too. (If the phrase “baby blowout” means nothing to you, take our word for it.) Here are some of our favorite, fancy,  “sweet-baby-smell” lotions that are safe and wonderful for newborn skin and effective enough for a new mom’s chapped hands (you wash your hands A LOT with a new baby).

 

Noodle and Boo Super Soft Lotion is the sweetest smelling, and most effective baby lotion we know of! It’s darling packaging doesn’t hurt either. We also love the California Baby line. The everyday lotion, overtired and cranky, and calendula cream are both also divine.

Beyond Sustenance

Meal Trains are a Godsend for getting dinner (and hopefully leftovers for lunch!) taken care of. You can register for, and set up a Meal Train on their website, here. However, new mamas also need yummy, nutrient dense snacks in the early days of recovery from birth and nursing. (And often end up balancing a sleeping baby in their arms in search of an easy to grab snack!) Here are a few ideas.

person carrying a baby

Energy Bites

These are like a healthy nutrient packed version of cake balls. Easy to grab and wolf down even with a crying baby in one arm. Mix ingredients together, basic recipe amounts below, there are endless possible combinations, chill for 30 minutes then roll into balls and coat in final ingredient. We love chocolate-coconut and cashew-butter-cran-raspberry!

  • 3/4 C organic old fashioned oats
  • 1/2 C nut butter of choice
  • 1/2 -1 C chocolate chips, craisins, shredded coconut, chopped nuts, crumbled freeze dried berries or whatever else sounds good
  • 2 TBS sweetener: honey, maple syrup, agave or whatever you fancy
  • Coating: peanut butter powder, shredded coconut, pulverized freeze dried fruit, hot chocolate mix…

cookies on square white ceramic plate

Lactation cookies

Yes you could get store-bought versions of these, and no, they probably won’t triple her milk supply. However, letting a new mom indulge in homemade cookies and imagine they’re healthy is what a real friend does! This recipe is from Genius kitchen.

Accessories

Unless you’re a celebrity, the new-mom uniform is stretchy pants, nursing tank, messy bun, all day, errryday. However, it’s amazing what a little accessoried “flare” can do to make a girl feel more human. (And fake an actual outfit with minimal wardrobe changes. #score)

Sweaters and Wraps

Mama can toss one of these over a legging/nursing top “mom-suit” and suddenly, voila! You’ve got yourself an outfit!

 

Earrings

A stylish drop earring can make that messy-bun look like its purpose is to show off some ear flare instead of disguising the spit-up in momma’s ponytail. (Not that we’ve ever done that before…)

 

We love the casual look of the leather  Zia earrings from Magnolia Market, and the Aragon hammered drop earring from Kendra Scott for maximum versatility and style.

Fancy Hair Ties

Uplevel that pony or mom-bun with one of these. Bonus – nursing mommas can also use them as cute bracelets to remember which side she last nursed the baby on! Win win!

 

 

Happy shopping mom-friends and congratulations on being the favorite person of the lucky new mom in your life!

This post contains affiliate links to help you find the products we recommend. We may receive a small contribution from your use of the links, but the recommendations are all our own and unsolicited.

018 (1 of 1)The Real As A M*ther crew, mamas to 10 littles; a doctor, lawyer, doula, and financial planner; and happy spoilers of Dr. Annie, a glam new momma to her brand new baby boy.

I Am Not a Part-Time Parent

I cannot believe we still have to have this conversation, but here we are. Someone recently made a comment to me that it must be nice to be a “part-time parent” because I, like my husband, work outside of the home in an office during the week.

I was pretty surprised at the comment. “Part-time parent?” I asked. “Yeah,” she said, “You basically only have a few hours a day with your kids and on the weekends. That sounds pretty part-time to me.”

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Once I was able to convince myself not to hurl myself at this person, I decided to put pen to paper on a few thoughts, juuuuuust in case anyone reading this has had the same misconceptions about what it can mean to be a working mother.

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1. When I work during the day to help earn income for my home – to help pay the mortgage, lights, car payment, insurance, etc, I am being a parent.

2. When I stay late to try to close that deal or finish that project, so I can try to earn some extra income to save more for college for my kids, for example, I am being a parent.person holding pink piggy coin bank

3. When I show my kids that a woman can be equal to men with regard to financially supporting a family, I am being a parent.

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4. When I rearrange my day and client meetings to care for a sick child, take them to an appointment, or join for a field trip, I am being a parent.

5. When I do an entire presentation to a group of potential investors with baby spit-up down my shirt, covered by a suit jacket, without missing a beat, I am being a parent.  (BTW, this did happen, and I always felt like Michelle in One Fine Day with the dinosaur shirt on…)

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6. When I stay up late to study so I can propel my career forward with the dream of creating an even better life for my kids, I am being a parent.

7. When I get home in the evening, exhausted from a particularly trying day, and I help my kids with homework, clean up the dinner my husband kindly made, give the kids a bath and tuck them into bed with a kiss, I am being a parent.

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8. When on the weekends, I attempt to catch up on some piles of laundry and cleaning I couldn’t tackle during the week, I am being a parent. Yes, my house might not be perfect, but that’s not my priority right now. We all prioritize things differently, it’s what makes us uniquely ….you guess it…..parents.

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9. When I work on my laptop for a few hours on a Sunday to catch up because I had to pick up my kid from school because he was sick earlier in the week, I am being a parent.

10. When I take some time to go to the gym so I can set an example for my kids to prioritize their physical health, taking them with me to show them safe and effective examples of doing so, I am being a parent.

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Dear mamas, none of you are less of a parent if you work inside the home, work outside of the home, have a nanny, don’t have a nanny, or sit in a bubble bath in your spare time.

I am a parent 100% of the time, regardless of whether I am physically present with my children or not. No one can convince me anything about my parenting is “part-time” so don’t let anyone make you believe it either!

Also, let’s take this opportunity to remind each other to stop spending time with people who don’t feed your positivity. You know who they are. They are the women who smile to your face but are threatened by your happiness or success. They are the ones who will talk snidely about the fact that your house isn’t as clean as theirs or that you gained a couple more pounds than last year. These “Frenemies” have no place in my life and I hope you make a conscious decision to remove them from yours!! (See Discovering and Coping with Energy Vampires). In the words of Sophia A. Nelson:

Be a  woman other women can trust. Have the courage to tell another woman directly when she has offended, hurt, or disappointed you. Successful women have a tribe of loyal and honest women behind them. Not haters. Not backstabbers or women who whisper behind their back. Be a woman who lifts other women.

People who truly love you will understand that your shining light never dims their own. They won’t call attention to your faults or your struggles. They won’t be jealous of your happiness and try to ruin it. They will highlight your strengths and your triumphs. Those are your people. And those people know there is nothing part-time about love.

Love,

Margo

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Margo is the silly lady in the blue dress, a full time mom of two, supporter of other parents and financial advisor.

 

Pregnant MD: Third Trimester Woes

As always, this post is meant as information and a personal account only and does not replace the advice of your personal healthcare provider. This post contains affiliate links to help you find the products I personally recommend which may provide small compensation for me.

Rounding out this pregnancy-blogging adventure, I have had a rodeo of all the discomforts of third trimester to remind me what to warn other mamas is coming for them. I had forgotten a few of them, so it’s lucky for you all I decided to go for #3 to be truly up to date on all of this (jk). Every woman’s experience of pregnancy is different – you may get none of these, all of them, and then some more – but I’ve tried to hit the most common highlights here for reference.

Braxton-Hicks

These fun semi-contractions may have started earlier for you than 28 weeks, the official kick-off of third trimester. However, if they didn’t, most women will start to get them more noticeably now. You might start to wonder if these are “the real deal” and whether you should worry. In general, the main difference is BH contractions are a tightening not a pushing down sensation. Think a fist squeezing closed around something rather than trying to push down. It’s hard to know the difference until you’ve had the real thing sometimes, but trust me when I say – you’ll know the real ones when they come.

They can range from barely noticeable to quite strong, stopping you in your tracks. Talk with your provider about when to go get checked, but in general if you’re having more than 4 per hour despite resting and being hydrated with an empty bladder (I do realize those last 2 are hard to balance….), you should check in with your person.

Snissing

I learned this fun term in my first pregnancy and have been giggling about it ever since. Snissing is pissing when you sneeze. As that baby pushes more on your bladder and your pelvic floor loosens up more, you may start to lose control with episodes of pressure – aka sneezing, coughing, laughing, having a toddler jump on you…. Doing Kegels regularly through the pregnancy can help avoid this, but for some it’s your anatomy and you’ll just have to make do with wearing pads and prioritizing emptying your bladder very regularly. Hooray!

Hemorrhoids & Constipation

Everyone’s least favorite body part to talk about – your butthole. These are 2 separate issues but very related, so I’ll address together. Some lucky people (ahem, me included) struggle with constipation at baseline and pregnancy hormones make that so much worse. The worse the constipation, the more you might be straining to get that BM out. I mean this 100% literally: I have had multiple poops that were harder to push out than my actual babies. The more you strain the more pressure you put on the veins around your anus and at some point, they can start to bulge out – this, my friends is a hemorrhoid.

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What’s a preggo girl to do?? Stay aggressive about constipation management. Aim for 1-2 easy bowel movements per day. Talk to your provider about a regimen you can use, for me it’s been high-fiber diet, hydration with at least 2 liters water a day, Smooth Move tea most days and high-quality pre/probiotics. The best I’ve found are these Prolistic ones by Nerium, not just saying that because I work with the company, they are superior (link is not even for my own business to keep this separate).

Heartburn and Reflux and Vurping, Oh My!

Me after drinking orange juice

Downward pressure has it’s problems as above, but at some point the upward pressure gets to most people as well. Fun fact – the old wives’ tale that babies with more hair cause worse heartburn is for completely unknown reasons statistically true. The safest methods for managing this are natural:

  • Avoid large meals, don’t eat anything more than a few bites of a snack for 2 hours before bed.
  • Avoid acidic foods: coffee, tomato, citrus…
  • Manage constipation (backing up the whole system)
  • Avoid carbonation

Some people also do well with Papaya Enzyme after meals. And up to 6 Tums regular strength tablets a day are safe – but beware!! These can worsen constipation turning into a self-perpetuating issue. If it’s bad beyond that, talk to your provider about other antacids.

Aches and Pains

You can get upper back pain from the weight of belly and breasts, round ligament pain from your growing uterus, and low back pain from basically doing dead-lifts all day long with a 20lb plyo-ball. I read in residency that 80% of women experience back pain in pregnancy. That seems unreasonably low. I have never, ever talked to a woman who didn’t have some degree of back pain by the end of pregnancy. If you’re out there… what’s that like? What are you made of? Are you descended from Amazons? For the rest of us, a few things can help…

  1. Prenatal yoga. Exercise in general is helpful, but prenatal yoga in particular is INCREDIBLY important for the health and comfort of your back.
  2. Prenatal massage. Make sure you’re seeing someone trained in this specifically and with a table set up to accommodate a growing belly.
  3. Topical creams. Distracting the nerves with something tingly can help temporarily. My go-to is BioFreeze because it’s the tingliest (is that a word?).
  4. Belly and hip supports. See if you can get one through your insurance first, if not, the most popular ones are in This NY Magazine Review
  5. Warm showers or baths or heating pad. I say warm, I mean VERY warm. There is no exact temperature cut-off – just stop as soon as you feel “Hey, I’m hot”.
  6. Tylenol. Yep. That’s all you get. Plain tylenol. Always good to double check with your own provider if this is ok for you, but most pregnant women can take this for bad pain.

If your pain goes beyond what can be managed with the above, talk to your health care provider. Some will have you see a specially trained chiropractor who knows Webster technique, work with a physical therapist or use other medication to manage it.

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Labor Scares

We will do a whole post on ‘How to Tell When to Go To The Hospital”, but in short, many women experience bouts of ‘Prodromal labor’ or ‘False labor’ prior to the real deal.

  • Contractions: The Braxton Hicks can get pretty strong and somewhat regular towards the end and as prenatal providers, we get a lot of “When are they labor?”. The general rule is 5-1-1: if you have contractions that stop you from doing what you’re doing every 5 minutes, lasting 1 minute for 1 hour and getting stronger despite resting and hydrating, you should check in with your person.
  • Breaking Water: This seems like it would be straight forward, however, as explained above with Snissing, plus how much vaginal discharge you might have, it can be tricky. It is often not the Hollywood gush of a gallon of fluid that is obvious, but a slower trickle when your water breaks. If you’re not sure, go empty your bladder, put on a clean, dry pad and walk around a bit. If your water is broken, you’ll keep leaking. Still not sure – go get checked.

Cankles and Varicose Veins

It’s a cruel joke of the universe that just when it becomes super awkward to try to put on any socks, much less super tight compression hose, you start getting ankle swelling that is treated by exactly those socks. Do your best to wear them if you know you’ll be on your feet a lot and certainly if you’re traveling where you’ll be stationary in a car or plane for more than an hour at a time. There are lots of options with better breathability and cuter designs these days, these are affordable and the appropriate 20-30mm pressure rating.

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If you are able, also take 20-30 minutes a few times a day to put your feet up at heart level and let gravity help you out here. If you get the ankle, or in particular hand or face swelling that comes on suddenly, go see your provider right away as this can be a sign of pre-eclampsia.

I would be remiss if I didn’t also warn you that you can get swelling and varicose veins everywhere south of your uterus – including your lady parts. Some women have the special experience of these throbbing, painful veins or swelling in the vagina and labia at the end of pregnancy. While there are also some interesting medieval-looking support contraptions that can help with this, the main thing that will make it less-bad is resting on your side or in puppy-dog pose type position for 10-15 minutes throughout the day.

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Lightning Crotch and Sciatica

Ever get a reallllly good zinger plugging something in that the wires were a bit stripped or your finger was on the plug? Imaging that in your labia. Welcome to lightning crotch, the fun pregnancy-version of good ol sciatica. Both of these can happen as baby moves lower in your pelvis toward the end of pregnancy. The same things that help with back pain described above can help with these particular issues as well. Some people also find acupuncture very helpful – but again – check with your provider about if and with whom that would be safe to do.

Pregnancy Brain

Yes, you’ve probably had this all along. Scientists have actually figured out that part of this is due to the hormones circulating around. However, with third trimester, your sleep starts to be very disrupted – most people wake 3-6 times a night to change positions and go pee. This makes the fog worse, of course. My own theory though, is that it’s also due to the now much stronger little being inside your squirming around. I told my husband to try to imagine concentrating with a little elf riding around poking you, elbowing you, going, “Hey! Hi! It’s me! Hey-yo!! Yoohoo!! Hi!” allllllll day long. Now… What was I writing about here…? Oh yeah. Help yourself and write things down! Consider a tracking device for keys, make sure “Find My iPhone” is on and maybe slap some GPS watches on your other kids while you’re at it.

When To Get Help

There are 6 main things we never want you sitting at home with:

  1. Bleeding that is any more than spotting
  2. Concern your water has broken (see above)
  3. Persistent contractions (see above)
  4. Feeling less baby movement – there’s no perfect rule for this, if you’re worried, we are worried.
  5. Signs of pre-eclampsia: Persistent pain in the belly or back, headache, blurred vision, sudden increase in swelling of feet/hands/face, or difficulty breathing.
  6. Depressed mood or bad anxiety, or any threatening or abusive behavior from your partner. These all, sadly, go up in pregnancy – don’t stay silent! We can help!

The bottom line on this one is any time something is beyond a minor discomfort, we want to hear about it. Have a low threshold for asking for advice from your healthcare provider – we VERY much would rather you come in for something small than miss something big.

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Now, then… Who’s ready to have a baby??

 Dr. Annie is a family physician and 3 time mama in California.

 

Green Smoothie Wednesday

Yep, you read that correctly. GREEN Smoothies! Cue all kids (and arguably a large percentage of adults) tuning OUT. But stick with me. We all know that eating our greens is important for health and fitness reasons, and today we are blending up the original green superfood, spinach.

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Packed with calcium, iron, and vitamins, spinach has boasted major staying power through diet fads and gleaned nutritional street cred from modern nutritionists to legends like Popeye himself.

The calcium in spinach can help strengthen your bones to fight against injury, and vitamins A and C, fiber, folic acid, and other nutrients fight against colon and breast cancers. Spinach also helps to lower damaging protein levels in the blood and can protect against high blood pressure and heart disease.*

Basically, spinach has nutritional benefits for all ages and all stages of life. The good news is there are much more fun ways to get your daily spinach in than a bowl full of salad every day of the week. (And whose children would ever do this BTW?!) Enter – the green smoothie. Delicious smoothies sneakily stocked with spinach.

In our opinion, there’s no better way to keep healthy eating rolling through the new year than incorporating smoothies into your regular routine.  The great thing about using spinach in smoothies is that it actually has a very mild taste so it blends well with other ingredients. So, whether you are new to the pursuit of your daily greens, or a regular green-juice goddess, we’ve compiled a list of our Real as a M*ther all-time favorite green smoothies that are packed with nutrient-rich spinach and actually taste really good.

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Nut-Butter Banana (and Spinach! Just don’t say that out loud) Smoothie

  • 1 cup fresh baby spinach
  • 1/2 cup organic no sugar added nut butter of your choice (almond, peanut, and cashew butter all taste great)
  • 2 bananas
  • 1/2 cup oats
  • 1 cup ice
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt (optional – omit to keep dairy free)
  • 1 cup milk of your choice (we typically use whole milk for our kids, but also love almond and coconut milk dairy-free options)
  • Our favorite optional add-ins: vanilla protein powder, chia seeds

Makes 2 large or 4 small smoothies.

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Green & Glowing At-Home Smoothie

Whenever we take our kids to Whole Foods, (which as you may know if you have ever taken 3 or more children to Whole Foods, is a frantic 2-hour endeavor with a $500 minimum) we all end up at the smoothie bar to fill up on one of their delicious Green and Glowing smoothies. When we are not at the store (hallelujah), we make this knock-off version at home.

  • 1 cup frozen pineapple
  • 1 cup frozen mango
  • 1/2 cup frozen peach
  • 1/4 cup dried unsweetened coconut
  • 1 -2 cups milk of choice (adjust for preferred thickness)
  • 1/4 cup flax seed
  • 1 banana
  • 1 cup fresh baby spinach
  • Our favorite optional add-ins: vanilla protein powder, collagen peptides (for the grown-ups “glowing” skin)

 

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Greens-on-the-Go Smoothie

We love this smoothie for the flexibility of its ingredients (basically whatever we have in the freezer actually works), the ease with which we can throw it together on-the-go (which is pretty much constantly – we have ten kids between us, remember?), and for the fact that it tastes vaguely like the most nutritious PB&J you’ve ever had.

  • 1.5-2 cups spinach
  • 1 tbsp nut butter of choice
  • 2/3 – 1 cup milk of choice
  • 1 handful of oats
  • 1.5-2 cups berries of choice
  • 1 shot of maple syrup
  • Our favorite optional add-ins: A shot of maple syrup to sweeten it up for the kids, a 1/4 cup or more of yogurt for a creamier smoothie, and coconut oil for extra good fats and coconutty flavor.

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Chocolate Crush Smoothie

Ok, so this recipe doesn’t involve eating any candy. Womp, womp. Sorry folks, this is a green smoothie post, after all. But, the nutrition-packed ingredients of this creamy smoothie give it a chocolatey, nutty, flavor that is almost as good as having candy for breakfast (or lunch for that matter – this is Kristy’s fave weekday lunch) and always keeps us coming back for more.

  • 1 cup milk of choice
  • 2 frozen bananas
  • 1/2 cup walnuts
  • 2 cups spinach (or 1 cup kale)
  • 1 scoop chocolate protein powder
  • 1 avocado
  • Optional add-ins: Anti-oxidant boost (Kristy uses Nerium’s Youth Factor Superfood Powder), coconut oil or flakes

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So Fresh and So Green Smoothie

This smoothie is a super-refreshing pick-me-up any time of the day. We love it particularly while dreaming of warm tropical days, or while recovering from an afternoon of chasing our kids around the house. The superpowers of spinach and mint combine to make this almost, just almost a better green alternative to coffee. TBD.

  • 1.5-2 cups spinach
  • 1 banana
  • 1 cup frozen mango
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 1/2 cup yogurt
  • 2 tbsp – 1/4 cup mint
  • Our favorite optional add-ins: vanilla protein powder, coconut flakes, chia seeds

green dessert

That’s a wrap on green smoothie Wednesday! Don’t forget any of these smoothies can be made into delicious smoothie bowls by decreasing the amount of liquid, and topping with nuts, fruit, and/or granola. Now, let’s see if Popeye was right about all this spinach. Watch out, 2019!

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Cheers, and Happy (green) New Year from all of us at Real As A M*ther! Moms to 10 kids, doctor, lawyer, doula/massage therapist, financial planner, and green smoothie makers.

 

 

 

Sources: * 4 Incredible Health Benefits of Eating Spinach by Melanie Rolland, @ guidedoc.superfooods