Category Archives: paleo diet

My AIP/Paleo Pregnancy: The Postpartum Period

My AIP/Paleo Pregnancy: The Postpartum Period

Well, It has been about two months since Baby Sweet Potato arrived… that is so hard to believe! So, I thought it was time to talk to you all about my postpartum experience so far. I have tried to break it up into the different phases of our experience, but as anyone with a new baby can attest time sort of runs together in those early days so bear with me if it’s a little scrambled.

The Hospital Stay

I told you all about my wonderful hospital water birth experience in my last post, but I didn’t go into any detail on my hospital stay following the delivery. I chose to give birth in a hospital as opposed to a birth center or at home, in part because I thought it would be nice to have the support of the nursing staff in those first 24 hours. I knew that we wouldn’t get much sleep and that people would be coming in and out of our room, but I still thought I would appreciate some support while dealing with bathroom issues, breastfeeding, and pain management.

Unfortunately, things did not go the way I had envisioned. I was transferred to my postpartum room about three hours after the birth, I was physically exhausted from standing, moving and laboring for 27 hours so I was having trouble walking and without the option of taking NSAIDs I was having some pain from the stitches that I needed following the delivery. I think because the nurses saw in my chart that I had an uncomplicated delivery with no medication they assumed I didn’t need much attention so after one assisted trip to the bathroom they said I should just do it on my own and even after my insistence that I wanted to take Tylenol every 4 hours they never brought it in without me reminding them. Suffice it to say that even though I am more than used to having to advocate for myself in medical settings I was overwhelmed and exhausted by how many things I had to remind them to do during our stay and the anxiety I felt surrounding the situation kept me from sleeping at all. Given that this was our experience we really pushed to get discharged ASAP and we were home within 36 hours of the birth. I have never been so happy to be in my own bed in my life.

A lot of people have asked how I handled the food situation while in the hospital. I had a lot of snacks packed in my labor bag like these paleo protein bars (Not AIP), some honey sticks, apple sauce packets, almond butter (not AIP), and some plantain chips. I also packed ginger tea, coconut water, mineral water and chamomile tea to drink. Outside of that I decided to buy two days worth of meals from Paleo on the Go, and this was by far one of the best decisions I made! I really wanted to have good, nourishing foods on hand but having to cook it all ahead of time and portion it out and bring it to the hospital was not something I felt like doing in the later days of my pregnancy so I ordered the food from Paleo on the Go ahead of time put it all together in my freezer. My mom threw it in a cooler as we left for the hospital and when we arrived in our postpartum room we labeled it and put it in the fridge at the nurse’s station. All we had to do was microwave it when I was ready to eat. For breakfast I had the Chicken Breakfast Sausage and plantain pancakes, for lunches I had the Bacon Apple Chicken Burgers with Maple Cranberry Sauce and the Loaded Baked Sweet Potato Soup and for dinners I had the Organic Shepherd’s Pie and the Vegetable Lasagna with Pork Sausage. I also ordered two containers of bone broth and drank that with meals. Having AIP friendly, nourishing food, that I was looking forward to eating, was so incredibly helpful and was a huge stress reliever. I have never had a single meal from Paleo On The Go that I didn’t love, so  I highly recommend it to anyone else planning a hospital stay!

The First Month

As a birth doula I understood the importance of having adequate support in those first few weeks postpartum. I enlisted the help of my mother who came and stayed with us for about two weeks after the birth. She handled everything around our house like cooking, shopping, cleaning and laundry so that I could focus on learning to breastfeed, recovering and going to various appointments and my husband could focus on helping me during his two weeks of paternity leave. To help my physical recovery I took a lot of baths with Epsom salts and a postpartum herbal sitz bath mix, I used an herbal tincture called After Ease in place of an NSAID to help with afterbirth cramps, I drank a lot of bone broth and ate a lot of iron rich foods like grass fed ground beef, and dark leafy greens, I also visited the chiropractor often to help my body recover from birth and adjust back to its non-pregnant state. To help support my hormones and thyroid I stayed away from caffeine (I know, crazy), ate regular meals and snacks, and I encapsulated my placenta. Now, a lot of you may think that placenta encapsulation is super weird and gross and I don’t blame you, but trust me when I say that it really helps! The placenta contains small amounts of hormones, a lot of iron, and a lot of nutrients that help the body recover after birth. When you choose to encapsulate your placenta you hire someone who is trained to do it, give them the placenta soon after the delivery and they take it and dehydrate it, grind it up and put it in capsules for you to take like a pill. I had enough pills to last my first 6 weeks postpartum and I could tell a huge difference in my mood and my energy while I was taking them. While I had the occasional moment of baby blue’s I never had any major mood issues and my energy levels were great given the crazy new mom sleep schedule, I was never wandering around like a zombie like we often see people do on TV or in movies.

I have been very blessed to have had a fairly smooth transition into breastfeeding. My milk came in on the third day, which is the average for most women, I had some pain on one side that was the result of one nursing session with a bad latch while we were in the hospital but it cleared up after a few days. My birth doula is also an IBCLC and came over and checked on our latch and gave me some tips on positioning in the beginning that helped get us started. Multiple people I have worked with have actually complimented me on how high in fat my milk is (weird right?) and I totally think (Just my opinion) that that is a result of my diet. Breastmilks is great for all babies if they can get it, but paleo babies get some super good stuff! In fact, the only issue I have had is an oversupply, which, while annoying sometimes, is not too bad in the big scheme of things! I will say that breastfeeding has made me much hungrier than being pregnant ever did so I have had to add in a few more snacks to me regular routine.

I want to say that while I consider my transition into breastfeeding to have gone smoothly, I still required a ton of support in the first few weeks as we were figuring things out and having that support is what made it go smoothly. If you plan to breastfeed make sure that you have a lactation consultant lined up before giving birth so that you can get help when you need it!

The second half of our first month was spent adjusting to life as a family of three and celebrating Christmas. I still continued drinking bone broth daily, taking Epsom salt baths daily and resting to help my healing continue.

The Second Month

This past month has been spent gradually increasing my activity level and getting back into a more normal routine. Around three weeks I started taking some short walks with Baby Sweet Potato in the Moby Wrap or the Ergo Carrier. Around week 4 I started including some gentle yoga and some basic exercises like squats and glute bridges to help start to regain some strength in my pelvic floor and my core. Right now I am aiming to do either a 2-3 mile babywearing walk or 20-30 minutes of yoga 4-5 days a week to help support my hormones and regain strength but I am not doing any intense of strenuous exercise because I do not want to tax my adrenals any more than they are already being taxed and risk increasing my inflammation.

At 6 weeks I followed up with my midwife and my ND and had my thyroid, iron, vitamin d and vitamin b-12 levels checked and made the necessary adjustments. I shifted from being hypothyroid to being hyperthyroid after birth so that has resulted in some ups and downs in mood and energy as I have had to adjust my medication. My primary focus at the moment is to support my hormones and adrenals as much as possible by resting, eating regular meals and snacks, minimizing my sugar and caffeine intake and supplementing as needed so that I can try to keep my inflammation levels low and avoid a flare.

Helping Baby Adjust

I think people often forget that babies are little humans who’s bodies and brains need help adjusting to life after birth. I have implemented a few of the things that have helped me into her routine and it has been so fun to see how they have effected her. Following her birth we took her to the chiropractor to help her body recover physically from birth and to help her latch

Infant chiropractic adjustments are extremely gentle and simple, but they help with a wide range of issues.

Infant chiropractic adjustments are extremely gentle and simple, but they help with a wide range of issues.

more effectively while breastfeeding. She continues to get adjusted about once a month for maintenance and it always produces a noticeable difference. In regards to her sleep we started right away with trying to help her establish a strong circadian rhythm. During the day we keep the lights bright, she sleeps in the baby carrier while I work around the house, in the car seat while running errands or in the rock and play in the living room and we don’t make any attempt to keep things quiet. However, at night we turn the amber lights on after the sun goes down, use the white noise machine, and swaddle her comfortably. It was amazing to see how quickly she adjusted. After just a few weeks she developed a regular sleeping pattern that included a longer stretch of sleep at night. Most breastfed babies do not sleep fully through the night for a long time so I had no expectation of that, but most nights she does at least a five hour stretch sometimes more. When she wakes up over night I only use the amber lights and I keep things very quiet and un-stimulating and she is usually back asleep in under an hour. The only potential downside to this approach is that you don’t get the regular nap schedule with long stretches of sleep during the day, she just sleeps when she is tired for varying lengths of time. Every baby is different when it comes to sleep so I am not delusional enough to think that what works for one baby will work for them all but I knew how important developing my circadian rhythm has been for my health so I felt that it was something that would be helpful to implement with her right from the start. Finally, to help all of those little skin issues that baby’s tend to have we have steered clear of the typical Johnson & Johnson products and used coconut oil for basically everything and it has worked great.

It is amazing how many ways the autoimmune protocol has helped me outside of just the management of my autoimmune symptoms. The practice of advocating for myself was vital during my hospital stay, already being in the practice of self care helped tremendously in the healing process and already eating a diet and living a lifestyle that supports hormone regulation has minimized a lot of the “typical” postpartum issues that many women experience. While I was not a huge fan of being pregnant I can honestly say that these first two months postpartum have gone much better than I anticipated and I have genuinely enjoyed them.

“Baby” Sweet Potato Cookies (AIP/Paleo/Sugar Free)

As many of you probably know by now, our family has officially grown from two to three with the birth of Baby Sweet Potato. I am taking some time off from blogging to settle into my new role as a mother so for the next month I have authors from around the web stopping by to tell their stories and share their favorite recipes. I hope you enjoy all they have to say, I look forward to being back with new posts and recipes of my own soon!

Today’s post is by Rebecca Boucher of Lichen Paleo, Loving AIP.

"Baby" Sweet Potato Cookies (AIP/Paleo/Sugar Free)

Developing AIP treats sweetened with only fruits and vegetables has become a kind of passion of mine. I’m always so satisfied when I’m able to enjoy a sweet snack without worrying about my blood sugar levels skyrocketing.  So when Samantha asked me to guest post here on Sweet Potatoes and Social Change, I knew I had to create a treat including sweet potatoes. I mean, how could I not?  As I was testing this recipe, the taste kept reminding me of those Gerber arrowroot cookies. The texture, however, is totally different.  These are not crispy, but more soft and a bit fluffy, like banana bread in cookie form.  Now with so much baby love in the air around here, I thought naming them ‘Baby Sweet Potato Cookies” would be completely appropriate. Plus they really are the perfect cookies for babies considering they are only sweetened with sweet potatoes and bananas, and they pretty much just melt in the mouth!

"Baby" Sweet Potato Cookies (AIP/Paleo/Sugar Free)

“Baby” Sweet Potato Cookies (AIP/Paleo/Sugar Free)

Makes 15 cookies

Ingredients: 

1 Cup chopped white sweet potato

1/2 Cup sliced banana

1/4 Cup coconut flour

1/3 Cup coconut oil, melted

1/4 Cup arrowroot flour

1/2 tsp baking soda

1 tsp Apple Cider Vinegar

Directions: 

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
  2. Place all ingredients into a blender or food processor and puree until smooth.
  3. Drop by the TBS onto the prepared cookie sheet and with a spatula (or the back of a spoon) spread the cookies in a circular motion until they are approximately 2 inches wide.
  4. Bake for 20-25 minutes until the edges are golden brown.
  5. Allow to cool.
  6. Enjoy!

rebecca-boucher

Rebecca Boucher is the author behind the blog Lichen Paleo, Loving AIP. She was diagnosed with lichen sclerosis in 2006 when she was 21 years old. While she always considered herself a healthy eater, it wasn’t until starting the paleo autoimmune protocol that she truly felt like she was on the true road to health. You can follow Rebecca on Facebook Pinterest and Instagram.

Tender Herb Crusted Pot Roast (Instant Pot, AIP/Paleo)

Tender Herb Crusted Pot Roast (Instant Pot, AIP/Paleo)

As many of you probably know by now, our family has officially grown from two to three with the birth of Baby Sweet Potato. I am taking some time off from blogging to settle into my new role as a mother so for the next month I have authors from around the web stopping by to tell their stories and share their favorite recipes. I hope you enjoy all they have to say, I look forward to being back with new posts and recipes of my own soon!

Today’s post is by Lexi Haverly of AYCE To Better Health

I recently ordered a fourth of a cow and I had a lot of cuts that I didn’t know what to do with. One of those was the regular roast. This cut tends to be very lean and if not cooked properly, it can turn out very rubbery. After butchering a few roasts in the oven, I finally discovered how much easier it was to cook in the Instant Pot and it would turn out nice and tender! This recipe does well for larger pieces of meat by increasing the herbs, while keeping the water amount the same. Cooking time may need to increase if it’s over 2 lb (I would increase by about 10 minutes for every additional pound). Keep in mind, this recipe requires the meat to be fully defrosted; half frozen meat will result in a tough inside. This roast is wonderful for the holidays or for batch cooking, as it can make quite a bit of meat without much effort!

Tender Herb Crusted Pot Roast (Instant Pot, AIP/Paleo)

Tender Herb Crusted Pot Roast (Instant Pot, AIP/Paleo)

Makes 4-5 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 tbs cooking fat (coconut oil works great)
  • 1-1.5 lb chuck eye or sirloin tip roast
  • 1 cup water
  • 5 tsp granulated garlic
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp Himalayan pink salt
  • 1 tsp dried rosemary
  • ½ tsp dried basil
  • ¼ tsp dried thyme
  • 2 tsp olive oil

Directions

  1. Press “SAUTEE” on your Instant Pot and wait for it to heat up.
  2. Place the cooking oil in the liner and lightly brown all sides of your roast,
  3. Once browned, press “OFF”. Pour in 1 cup of water, making sure the top of the meat is not submerged. You may need to pour in a little less.
  4. Blend your seasonings and olive oil in a small bowl to form a paste
  5. Once blended, cover the top of the meat with the paste. Allow some bits to fall into the water – this will infuse the flavor into the meat as it cooks.
  6. Press the “MEAT/STEW” option and “ADJUST.” This will adjust the time to 45 minutes. Allow to naturally release, which takes about 30 minutes.
  7. Slice on the thin side and enjoy!

 

About Lexi: 

lexi-pictureLexi is a student of nutrition and firm believer that our body has more strength than we believe, as well as an AIP/Paleo/Real Food blogger sharing her story of healing, developing recipes, and working towards nutrition coaching. In 2014, she became ill and was eventually diagnosed with Hashimoto’s. Since then, she has used the Autoimmune Protocol Diet to drastically improve her health and regain her life. In addition to exploring new foods and flavors, she also enjoys traveling and makes it a point to find AIP/Paleo compliant foods and restaurants wherever she goes and shares her adventures with her followers. You can find more of her on her site, Facebook, or Instagram.

From Vegan to Paleo: Making Peace With The Transition

From Vegan to Paleo: Making Peace With The Transition

As many of you probably know by now, our family has officially grown from two to three with the birth of Baby Sweet Potato. I am taking some time off from blogging to settle into my new role as a mother so for the next month I have authors from around the web stopping by to tell their stories and share their favorite recipes. I hope you enjoy all they have to say, I look forward to being back with new posts and recipes of my own soon!

Today’s post is by Mitch Hankins of Instinctual Wellbeing. 

I’ll never forget sitting across from my doctor back in early 2013, when he delivered my lab results showing that I was deficient in just about every amino acid, vitamin, mineral, digestive enzyme and healthy blood cell you could think of. He looked me squarely in the eye and said “You have to start eating meat.”

Boom. There it was. It felt like the news he delivered was so much grimmer than just a mere diet recommendation. After all, I had been vegan for three years prior to that moment, and vegetarian for even longer than that.

While I knew in my heart (and in my malnourished body) that he was right and I would need to make the change, I was completely bamboozled. What went so wrong to have caused this? I wasn’t one of those vegans who just ate a bunch of vegan cheese and vegan food substitutes. I ate about 100 types of fresh, organic fruits and veggies per day, I juiced, I sprouted my legumes and pre-soaked my grains, and I even incorporated some “raw” principles into my life by being careful not to overcook my food. I even made pizza crust out of adzuki beans for God’s sake. I mean – if my body was “failing” at being vegan, then I didn’t know what would work.

The worst part for me though, was that I didn’t choose to be vegetarian and vegan because I thought the food was particularly yummy, or because I wanted to lose weight or something like that. My choice was based almost (I say “almost” because I could see some potential health benefits from following a more plant-based diet) entirely due to my own personal values and morals.

So, when I heard that I needed to make some diet adjustments, it wasn’t just me thinking, “um…well what am I supposed to eat then?” Instead, it was throwing into question my whole being, my personal value system, and who I thought I was as a person. Additionally, I was also beginning to study Buddhism pretty deliberately back then, and this idea of eating meat also challenged my newfound spiritual belief of non-violence, which was typically translated as not eating animals, amongst other things.

I realize that may sound melodramatic to some, but chances are if you’re reading this article to begin with, you’ve probably had a similar experience with something in your life, whether it be diet-related or not.

Luckily, my doctor knew me well enough to understand how I was feeling. He asked if I was alright, and I explained to him that this wasn’t just about a diet to me – it was about challenging what I believed in and how I interacted with the world. He kindly suggested that I look into the paleo diet specifically, because that movement wasn’t just about factory farming and eating meat in an unconscious way. Instead, it focused on sustainable (and ideally local) farming, and only eating animals that were raised in their most natural environments without restrictions or tons of stress. I told him I had a lot to think about, but that I’d do my research as I always did.

Fast-forward nearly four years, and I’m still following a paleo (well, AIP, if we’re being specific) diet and lifestyle. I’ve seen huge success with my health and autoimmune conditions, and I found that the paleo philosophy really helped me bridge the gap between vegan and paleo. I’d be lying though if I said there weren’t still times when I catch myself wondering if I’m doing the right thing for my body, the animals and the world’s ecosystem. If the fact that my health did a complete 180 isn’t proof enough that this is the right path for me at this point in time though, I also like to remind myself of two valuable points that I’ve come to understand (or at least believe) over the years:

Eating grass-fed or free-range/pastured meats is NOT the same thing as eating and supporting factory farmed animals and organizations.

  • If you’ve ever been out to a farm – a real farm – you’ll know how peaceful and beautiful it can be. You’ll be able to bear witness to the fact that, when treated right, these animals are able to live full, happy lives, grazing on grass, playing in mud, and happily pecking at each other until it’s their time to complete the “circle of life” and give back to the world in their own way. This is so different than the tragedies that exist at the factory farming levels, which I believe we still very much need to push back against and educate about. But just because factory farming exists doesn’t mean that every time we eat an animal, that they are subjected to the same harshness and abuse. We have to separate that out in our minds, and know that each animal or person gives back in its own way. This leads me into the second thing that I’ve come to believe, which is…
  • Each living creature – human, plant or animal – on this planet, has some sort of mission or “dharma” (purpose). Now, I want to make the point that sometimes this purpose may be to just simply exist and touch the lives of those in our immediate family or circle of friends; it doesn’t always have to mean our purpose is to ride camels through the Sahara until we reach Enlightenment and then return to the cities to preach of it. 🙂 But I do believe that in one way or another, we’re all here for a reason, and chances are – we decided what that reason would be before we even decided to come into being.I know this may be pushing you wayyy outside your comfort zone to think this way and hey – that’s totally understandable and OK. But if you can just humor me for a moment, I’d ask that you consider the possibility that animals know what their purpose is, too. And that sometimes – for certain animals – that purpose may be to come here for a specified amount of time until they can provide healthy nourishment to people when they’re called to do so.

From Vegan to Paleo: Making peace with the Transition

So, those points are what I remind myself of whenever I start questioning my paleo/AIP diet or getting a little down about the fact that I now eat a lot of animal products. I just try remember that sometimes our bodies just need a little extra nutritional support from animal proteins, and also that we’re lucky to live in period where movements like paleo and AIP have helped demand farming reform (and so many other great organizations, individuals, authors and farmer’s markets have facilitated this, too!) so that animals and humans can co-exist and co-nourish each other to support each other’s wellbeing.

I hope that if you’re ever struggling with the transition from vegan to paleo, that my experience and thought processes can help you as well. Much love!

About Mitch:

Mitch is thmitch-photoe man behind the Instagram accounts @mightymorphinmitch and @thatautoimmunelife, as well as the blog, Instinctual Wellbeing. He believes that along with following a whole foods diet, humor, self-awareness and self-love are keys to healing autoimmune disease and chronic illness. Originally from Florida, he now lives in Kansas City with his fiancé and two cats.

 

My AIP/Paleo Pregnancy: The Birth

My AIP/Paleo Pregnancy: The Birth

I wrote this birth story in such a way that I could share it on multiple platforms and have it for myself so it is not just focused on the paleo/AIP side of things. I have included some notes about specific AIP concerns at the end. Also, it is an honest retelling of the birth and includes birth language so if you are super squeamish about these types of things this may not be a story for you. However, it is a positive story and I encourage people to read it and learn more about the options surrounding birth today. For more on my paleo/AIP pregnancy you can read about my first trimester, second trimester, and third trimester by clicking on these links.

 Many birth stories aim to walk through the physical details of the day a child was born, what happened and when. While I do want to remember every detail of the birth of my first child, focusing on these physical details is not fully indicative of my labor and birth experience. As a birth doula myself, I have seen many births, I am not afraid of birth, I understood the physiology of childbirth long before I ever became pregnant myself. I knew that I wanted an un-medicated water birth, who I wanted as my doula, and the type of provider I wanted the minute the test came back positive. My labor preparation was not found in childbirth books or classes. For me, preparing for labor was a mental and spiritual journey.

My pregnancy was filled with a lot of stressful events, unrelated to actually being pregnant. I lost two family members unexpectedly in my first trimester, my husband had to travel for much of my second trimester and at the start of my third trimester I found out that I was being laid off from my job following my maternity leave. All of these things kept me from feeling very in tune with being pregnant. I was just desperately trying to get things in order, assuming that I would just focus on the baby when it arrived. All of that changed at 37 weeks when I started having almost non-stop prodromal labor. Suddenly, it was impossible to ignore the fact that I was about to become a mother. I had to finish working early because the contractions were made worse by being on my feet all day and by being tired, so at 38 weeks I left my job early and finally switched my focus to gestating. I started taking daily short walks, during which I listened to birth and pregnancy podcasts and meditated to my birth playlist. One day someone on one of the podcasts mentioned that they had challenged themselves to pick three words to describe their ideal birth, words that were unrelated to the actual environment or method of delivery. I liked the sound of that, so I gave it some thought. The words that came to mind were worshipful, peaceful, and confident.

I wanted this birth to be a spiritual experience. I felt like so many popular natural birth affirmations functioned to convince the mother that SHE could give birth through her own physical power and while I know that that resonates with a lot of people I didn’t want to conquer birth, I didn’t want to rely on my physical strength, I didn’t feel like I had anything to prove. Instead, I decided that my focus would be on using this experience for God’s glory and relying on His power to guide me through the process. I wanted the environment to be peaceful at the time of birth, I didn’t want things to feel rushed or chaotic and regardless of what happened or how I gave birth I wanted to feel confident in the decisions that needed to be made so that I didn’t come out of the experience with regrets. I didn’t share these convictions with anyone, I just meditated on them every day in preparation for delivery.

My estimated due date was Nov. 25th, the day after Thanksgiving. When my prodromal labor started so early I thought for sure that this baby would arrive ahead of schedule and that I would be spending my Thanksgiving getting baby cuddles on the couch. Thanksgiving came and went. My whole family traveled down from 2 and half hours away to spend the holiday with us and I hoped and prayed the baby would arrive before they left so that I wouldn’t have to call them to come back again. However on the 26th everyone packed up and drove home and I was left grumpy and convinced I would be pregnant forever. In fact, my husband found me in my PJs, in bed, with the lights off watching TV, in full hibernation mode by 4 o’clock that afternoon. I was mentally done and ready for this baby to make an entrance. At midnight on the 27th I woke up to some strange “cramps”. I tried to ignore them and go back to sleep, but that quickly became impossible. I got up to go to the bathroom and low and behold… bloody show! The contractions were coming about every 6 minutes and were strong enough that it was uncomfortable to stay still through them. They quickly progressed to being every 4 and a half minutes apart so we alerted my doula and my mother and they both prepared to come to our house. My plan was to wait and go to the hospital when I was in transition because we only lived a few miles away and I wanted to spend most of my time at home. Over the course of the next nine hours I spent time watching TV with my husband while he rubbed my back, I visited with my mom and my doula in the stillness of the early morning, the sun came up and my team took turns eating breakfast and drinking coffee as I labored in the living room by the Christmas tree, leaning forward with each contraction, swaying back and forth as someone rubbed my back. We bundled up and took a walk around the neighborhood, joking that it was probably against HOA guidelines to have a baby in the parking lot. Finally, around 11 AM I began to get shaky and feel some pressure so we decided to go to the hospital. We packed everything up and caravanned to the hospital. I was very nervous about dealing with the drive, check in and triage process and I could feel my focus and faith slipping as soon as we made the call to go to the hospital. The triage process was long and irritating and when the midwife finally came in I could tell instantly that she and I were not going to click. She gave me an uncomfortable cervical check, the first cervical check of my pregnancy, and announced that I was only 3cm. I could stay and be monitored for an hour or I could go home. While I was obviously somewhat frustrated by this news, I was also relieved. Now I could go back home to where I was comfortable and get my focus back to where it needed to be. Looking back, I am actually really thankful for this “practice” trip to the hospital because it gave me a chance to walk through the part of labor I was most fearful of, the transition from home to hospital, so that when it came time to do it again I was prepared.

My mom, my husband and I headed home and my doula headed back to her house to check on her family. My husband laid down to rest, my mom sat with me as I took a bath and tried to eat and then I took some Tylenol PM, at the advice of the midwife, and tried to rest myself. The contractions were still coming every 4 and half minutes and I still couldn’t stay still through them so I was only able to groggily drift off in between contractions before rolling onto my hands and knees through each one. This went on for about two hours when I decided to get up and try to get things moving. I pulled out all the stops, doing abdominal lifts, positioning exercises, walking the stairs, squatting, and moving my hips like my life depended on it. By 7:30 that night we called my doula back and we once again transitioned from day to night with everyone taking turns eating dinner and rubbing my back. I decided to go get back in the shower, since that was where I could relax the most, but I told my husband I needed him to stay with me. He tried helping me through contractions from outside the shower but that wasn’t really working so he changed into some shorts and got in with me. This was honestly my favorite part of my labor because I was so focused, my husband was doing a fantastic job of supporting me and it was private, just the two of us. The water was so relaxing and in that moment, I was sure I was never leaving that shower and that the baby would just have to be born right there. Unfortunately, we ran out of hot water… I stayed in the bathroom with my husband for a while longer but I think my team could sense a shift in my mood and started talking to me about going back to the hospital. The tiniest bit of fear started creeping in again and at first I said no, but then my wonderful doula reminded me to trust in my team and that fear was not a good reason to stay home. So, at 9:45 PM – almost 22 hours into my labor we headed back to the hospital. I began to cry a little as we pulled away from our house because I knew that when we came back we would have a baby and that still seemed so surreal.

This time, I was not afraid of the drive or the triage process I was just determined to get through it without losing my focus. The contractions in the car were very very hard but I only had two before we arrived. I stayed focus through check in and was brought into triage, I got right up onto the bed in hands and knees and strapped the monitors to myself so that they would stay on and I answered all of their questions without losing my focus. The nurse offered to check me so that we wouldn’t have to wait for the midwife, a different midwife from earlier in the day, and I agreed. Her check was much more gentle than the previous one and I was thankful for that. She asked if I wanted to know how dilated I was and I said not if I was far enough along to be admitted. She said that I was, so they sent my doula up to our room to begin setting up the birth pool. I told them I would be wearing my own clothes, rather than a hospital gown and I walked myself to our labor and delivery room, albeit very slowly. I had to do another 20 minutes of continuous monitoring before I would be allowed off the monitors to get in the pool, so again I climbed up into bed on hands and knees, closed my eyes and focused. The only negative to this time was that I overheard the nurses talking to each other, saying that I was still only dilated to a 5. At that point I knew that I needed to shift my efforts to conserving the energy I would need for transition and pushing so I told my doula to go ahead and fill up the pool even though everyone wanted me to walk around to try and get things progressing. I had been on my feet almost non-stop for almost 24 hours and I could feel my legs starting to get weak. I finished the monitoring and got in the pool and it was a definite relief. The water took the pressure off my legs and made it much easier to move from a resting position to my hands and knees for contractions. I would lay on my side to rest in between while my mom poured water over my belly to help my muscles relax, when a contraction came I would get on my knees and lay my upper body over the side of the pool while my husband applied counter pressure to my back. This routine went on for probably two hours before the midwife came in to check me again. It was now around 1 am the next day, November 28th. She told me that I was still dilated to about 5cm and that my bag of water was bulging, causing the pressure I had been feeling for much of the day.

Having attended a fair amount of births I was not terribly surprised by this news and I knew in my heart that it was time to help things along. The midwife offered to break my water and I agreed but I asked for ten minutes to talk with my team and to get myself prepared. After 25 hours of labor there was a definite part of me that was nervous about feeling things change and intensify. I had my doula say the risks of an artificial rupture of membranes out loud so that my mom and my husband would understand them and we all agreed that it was the best call. I got out of the tub and made my way to the bed as the midwife came back into the room. She was very gentle during the procedure and I hardly felt a thing. When they said the water was clear I started to cry out of relief. My contractions intensified immediately. I agreed to get in the shower for a while to help keep pressure on my cervix so my husband and I got in the shower and while I never felt scared or out of control I did cry and say a few curse words when it was just the two of us because the intensity of the contractions was a lot to get used to. After a little while I got back into the tub and I went into that full “labor land” hormonal state that people talk about. It was incredibly surreal, I felt as though I was drifting in and out of sleep and I just kept saying “Ok, Ok, Ok” after each contraction because in my mind I just kept reassuring myself that I was ok and that things were going well. Around this time the nurse and the midwife asked to check me again and without even really thinking about it I just said “No” very firmly. They hung around for a while and each time they would ask to check me I would just close my eyes and shake my head. I just knew that I could not handle anything breaking my focus and I knew that this baby was going to come out whether they checked my cervix or not. Finally, they left the room and I decided to try and see what it would feel like to bear down a little bit during the next contraction. I hesitantly tired it and it felt Ok so I tried it again on the next contraction without saying anything to anyone. All of the sudden on the next contraction my body took over and “trying to bear down a little” became involuntary pushing. My sounds and body language must have changed because my doula very calmly came over and asked “was that you pushing on that last contraction or was it your uterus?” I barely got the word uterus out before my body started pushing again. My doula chuckled and said, “it looks like you have a butt full of baby!” Apparently at that point she went out in the hall and told the nurse and the midwife that they should probably come back in, the nurse replied “well she is going to have to let us check her” my doula just laughed and said “I don’t think you’re going to have to, the head is coming out.”

The nurse and the midwife came back in and got everything ready. I don’t think I really realized how close I was to having this baby because I remember someone saying that they were setting up for delivery and thinking, “yeah right, that doesn’t mean anything I could still have hours left.” Then they moved the mirror to the side of the pool so that I could see myself pushing and there on the next contraction I saw the head starting to crown. One of my favorite songs on my birth playlist came on, “Holy Spirit” by Francesca Battistelli, this is one of my favorite worship songs and is all about creating a sacred and worshipful space. At this point my body was pushing so hard and uncontrollably I honestly felt like I couldn’t breath and in just two or three more contractions our little baby arrived! I reached down and pulled our little one up and out of the water. It was 3:30 AM just two hours and twenty minutes after my water had been broken. My doula was standing on a table taking pictures and both she and my mom were singing along with the song in a moment of total praise and worship. The baby’s cord was tangled at first so I could only get her to my belly. It took me a minute to snap out of labor land and realize that it was over and we had a baby! They untangled the cord and I pulled the baby up to my chest. I kissed that wet little head, covered in hair, and said “Oh baby, you did such a good job!” We heard that perfect little cry and I just stared in total awe. It was actually a few minutes before we realized we still didn’t know if we had a girl or a boy. I had my husband look and he announced to the room that we had a baby girl! I announced her name, rubbed her vernix into her skin, and my husband cut her cord. She went with him for some skin to skin time while I got out of the pool to deliver the placenta. The only downside to the whole experience was that her quick decent and my strong pushing caused some tearing that took a while to get repaired so I wasn’t able to feed her and hold her for another hour and half, but she was in the room with her daddy where I could still see her and hear her. After she ate and we moved to our postpartum room, she was weighed and measured. She was 6 lbs 14oz and 19 inches long.

Honestly, I would not change anything about my experience. I felt calm and confident throughout the entire 27 hours of labor. My team did an amazing job of supporting me. Even the slight hiccups, like the first trip to the hospital and having to have my water broken helped me reach my goals in the long run. The length of my labor kept me fully relying on my faith in God and her moment of birth was honestly one of the greatest moments of pure worship I have ever been a part of. I am still in awe of the experience and I am so thankful that it brought us our beautiful baby girl.

 

AIP-Related Notes:

  • Part of my motivation for wanting an un-medicated childbirth was that I do not tend to react well to most medications and I wanted to avoid side effects that could potentially trigger my autoimmune disease. I was able to avoid any medication during birth, and I did not even have an IV line placed. I have been taking Tylenol post birth to help relieve pain from the stitches and I used an herbal tincture to help relieve the discomfort of those post birth cramps.
  • I did eat and drink throughout labor. In my early labor and immediate postpartum I ate THESE paleo protein bars. They are not AIP. I also ate some sweet potatoes, applesauce and plantain chips. To help keep myself hydrated I drank coconut water and THIS mineral water.
  • In a future post I will talk about my postpartum period, including what I ate during my hospital stay.

Here Is a video of some photos from our birth (Nothing Graphic): 

Gingerbread Latte (AIP/Paleo)

Gingerbread Latte (AIP/Paleo)

With only a few weeks until Christmas I am sure you are all trying to be festive and in the holiday spirit right? It is no secret that the holidays, while a joyful occasion, can also be filled with some stress. So, it is very important to monitor your self care and stress management around this time of year so that you can avoid an autoimmune flare.

One of my favorite ways to unwind and de-stress is with a warm cup of tea. It is no secret that I used to be a major coffeholic and you can be guaranteed that I was the person perpetually holding a red coffee cup filled with some sort of holiday latte concoction from September to February. However, these days I stick to tea and I have found some wonderful ways to add some festive flavors to my favorite brews. This gingerbread latte is definitely a treat but it is the perfect pick-me-up for afternoon cookie baking sessions, holiday party prep or wrapping gifts with Christmas carols in the background. It will definitely help to lower your stress and add some holiday enjoyment to your days!

Gingerbread Latte (AIP/Paleo)

 

Gingerbread Latte (AIP/Paleo)

Ingredients: 

12 oz strongly brewed roasted dandelion root tea (I use two tea bags steeped for 20 minutes)

1/4 Cup of full fat Coconut Milk

1 TBS Maple Syrup

1 TBS Coconut Sugar

1/2 tsp Ground Ginger

1/2 tsp Vanilla Extract

1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

pinch of cloves

1 TBS of Collagen Powder

1 Cinnamon Stick

Directions: 

Combine all of your ingredients in a small saucepan and simmer for about 10 minutes. Blend with an immersion blender and serve. Garnish with coconut whipped cream if desired.

Cranberry Sausage Breakfast Casserole (AIP Reintro/Paleo)

Cranberry Sausage Breakfast Casserole (AIP Reintro/Paleo)

It is that time of year where traditions become especially important. Many families rely heavily on traditions around the holidays whether it is a favorite recipe, travel plans, or a certain activity, we all trim the tree, watch movies and eat food in our own special ways.

As I have gotten older I have enjoyed learning about other family’s traditions and seeing what I have in common and what I do differently from others. One tradition that I have found to be fairly unique to my family is our Christmas breakfast. For as long as I remember we have had the same breakfast each Christmas morning… a casserole with link sausage on the bottom, cranberry sauce in the middle and cornbread on top. My grandmother used to make it, we make it and I believe that most of my aunts and uncles make it as well. I love it.

However in recent years I have had to make do with other breakfast options since link sausages and cornbread are not AIP. This year, I decided to try and make my own version ahead of time so that I could have the chance to partake in our yummy tradition and I am pleased with the result.

You may have your own Christmas breakfast traditions, but if you are looking to try something new or on the off chance that you also grew up with this Christmas casserole than I hope you give this a try!

Cranberry Sausage Breakfast Casserole (AIP Reintro/paleo)

Cranberry Sausage Breakfast Casserole (AIP/Paleo)

Ingredients: 

Sausage: 

1 lb Ground Pork

2 tsp Dried Sage

1 tsp Sea Salt

1 tsp Dried Thyme

1/2 tsp Ground Cinnamon

Cranberry Sauce:

3 Cups of Fresh Cranberries

1/4 cup of Maple Syrup

1/2 cup of Fresh Orange Juice

Topping:

8 Pastured Egg Yolks

1 Green Plantain- Pureed

4 TBS Apple Cider Vinegar

1 Cup of Coconut Flour

1/2 Cup of Coconut Oil

1/2 tsp Sea Salt

1 tsp Baking Soda

1 tsp Vanilla Extract

1/2 Cup of Honey

Directions: 

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a medium mixing bowl combine all of your sausage ingredients until well blended. Press the sausage meat into the bottom of a 9×9 baking pan. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and drain some of the fat from the pan. Set the sausage aside. Reduce the oven heat to 350 degrees. In a small sauce pan combine all of your cranberry sauce ingredients and bring to a simmer. Stir continuously for about 5 minutes or until it starts to thicken. Spread your sauce over your sausage. In a food processor combine all of your topping ingredients and blend until smooth. Gently press the dough on top of your casserole until it covers it completely. Bake at 350 for about 30 minutes. Allow it to cool slightly and enjoy.