15 Super Fun & Unique Budget Friendly Date Ideas

We’ve all been there. Your weekly date rolls around and you realize you’re a bit strapped for cash. You’re in need of a budget friendly date, but you’ve been hitting the same restaurant for dinner and are wanting something different.

Something fun, random and cheap.

Weekly dates were something my parents always made a priority, and I grew up with that as the norm. So when I got married, you can bet that was something I wanted to do.

We’ve gotten creative over the last year or so, and have come up with what we think are some fun things to do together…

budget friendly date ideas

Why a weekly date?

If you have a job, or a spouse, or kids, or are human, odds are your life is busy. There are only three in our little family, and our week is packed before we know it.

There’s no way we could go out more than once, and for our sanity, we NEED that day to reconnect, and slow down. I always feel so refreshed and back on track after our date.

Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links. Meaning I may make a small commission from purchases made through them at no extra cost to you.

Some of my favorite budget friendly dates…

Game day/night

We recently had a down day were my husband wasn’t feeling good and didn’t go to work. It was cold and rainy, so after he slept the morning away, we literally spent the entire rest of the day playing games.

We broke out the Wii, played a ton of liars dice, drank hot chocolate, made breakfast for dinner, and then played two person Taboo.

All with a baby and didn’t spend a dime.

It was basically the best day ever.

Bowling

Super easy to do with a baby, and also pretty cheap. Two people can bowl two games for around $25. Throw in some ice cream too, if you’re feeling it.

Hit some Goodwill’s

Don’t knock it til you’ve tried it! This was a ton of fun. We went to a few different one’s, picked something out for each other, and tried on some unique things. Let’s just say my body was not built for rompers…

Combine this with lunch at Costco, and this can easily be under $30.

Mini- Golf + Milk shakes

This one will take you back to your pre-marriage dating days…super fun and cheap, plus it’s low key so you can just enjoy each other’s company. without a ton of distractions

budget friendly dates

Indoor Bouldering

Great for any weather if you like to be active, and usually around $15 per person. It’s also easy to take a baby if you don’t have a sitter!

Mall Walking

Yep. Just like when you were dating. Get free samples from See’s, look at all the ugly clothing, Get Auntie Ann’s pretzels or Cinnabon, (or both. Not gonna judge), discreetly point out interesting people, browse all the fun stores, and depending on your budget pick something out for the other person.

Go biking.

If you have your own bikes, this one is definitely budget friendly. All you need is gas. Pack a picnic lunch, or eat out if you want.

Go for a hike.

Also a super cheap option, and there are so many beautiful hikes for all skill levels!

Go for a walk in a fun neighborhood.

This is also a favorite of ours. Find a neighborhood with unique houses, and just walk and point out which one’s you like, what you would change etc.

We have a three mile loop we like to do with nice houses, and some pretty run down one’s, and we love dreaming of how we would fix them up if we could.

We put Amiya in her JJ Cole carrier, and just enjoy each other’s company strolling and holding hands. Sometimes we’ll stop for a treat at the local bakery or get a coffee. Talk about a budget friendly date…

Disc Golf.

This can be a bit of an investment at first to get a set of discs for each of you, but it’s still pretty cheap, and if you already have some, then it’s free to go.

Google disc golf courses near me and explore your different options. Even if it’s an easy course it’s fun to go out and do something competitive as a couple.

budget friendly dates

Arcade games with stakes.

Grab a pocket full of quarters and go crazy. Set a timer for an hour or so, and whoever wins the most games wins. Be creative with your stakes… I’m pretty original and always pick a massage…lol.

Bake/cook something together.

you can either agree on something to bake, or have a bake-off.

You could also give yourselves 10 minutes in the grocery store, split up and pick some random ingredients that sound good and create a meal with what you both picked out…

Dollar Tree date.

Again, split up and give yourselves a certain amount of time. Try to avoid each other (without being creepy about it), and pick 4 things for the other person.

  • A snack-ish food they might like
  • A card
  • A toy than reminds you of them, for whatever reason
  • A totally random item, as weird or cool as you choose

Movie night in bed with aaaaaaall the snacks.

This one is great for those times you don’t want to go out, and just want to snuggle. Put your little(s) to bed, bring out the snacks you’ve been hoarding and enjoy some down time together.

Coffee + couples trivia.

We did this one recently without Amiya, and it was one of my favorite dates ever. Print a set for each of you, go out for coffee and have fun mullingover your answers as well as guessing your partners.

Get your free couples trivia

Trivia directions

Couples Trivia page 1

Couples Trivia page 2

The way the questions are worded can be a bit tricky so make sure you’re putting down the answer for the correct person.

For example:

question 9. What is the most difficult aspect of me for you?

I had to write down what I thought my husband found the most difficult, and vice versa, then after all our answers were written we took turns guessing.

This definitely created some interesting conversation!

I hope this gave you some new ideas for fun, budget friendly dates!

If you enjoyed this post, please give it a share. 🙂

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How to Maintain an Active Lifestyle with a Baby for the On-The-Go Mom

20 Self-Care Ideas for the Worn Out Mom

How to Maintain an Active Lifestyle with a baby for the On-The-Go Mom

Today I want to talk about a topic near and dear to my heart… how to maintain an active lifestyle with a baby.

So you’re pregnant, and so excited to meet your tiny human.

Your due date get’s closer and closer and then you suddenly wonder…”Wait… is my active lifestyle over? Am I doomed to a life inside the walls of my house??? How will I manage to ever go anywhere with a baby???? HELP!!!!!”

If this is you, take a deep breath, relax, and let’s talk about this rationally.

How to maintain your active lifestyle with a baby

My husband and I are on the go a lot. Weekend ultimate frisbee, trips to my family down in OR about once a month, mid week game nights, movie nights, dates, workouts, etc.

It was incredibly important to me that we pretty much be able to continue our lifestyle for the most part, because I get MAJOR cabin fever. Sometimes I want us to slow down a lot, but I’m also grateful to be able to go places at the same time.

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links, meaning I may earn a small commission from purchases made from them at no additional cost to you.

So how do you maintain an active lifestyle with a baby?

Step one is realizing that babies (one’s without special needs), have only a few basic needs…

They need to eat, burp, sleep, poop, be snuggled and be changed. They will do these things whenever, wherever. Doesn’t matter if you’re home or at a friend’s house.

Step two is reminding yourself that babies cry. They will also do this wherever, whenever. This is not a reason to seclude yourself, and think you can’t go anywhere. That only results in a cranky, depressed mom, and we don’t want that to happen.

Don’t let going places with a baby overwhelm you. For breastfeeding mamas, as long as you have diapers, wipes, and an extra pair of clothes you really are set. Anything else is just a bonus.

I don’t have a ton of experience in pumping while out and about, but they do make breast pumps much more travel friendly these days. Either pack a cooler with ice for breast milk until you get home, or feed it directly to your baby. It’s more of a hassle but you gotta do what you gotta do!

Your active lifestyle might look a bit different.

Life with a little one is going to look different than before, obviously, but there is no reason you have to say goodbye to it. Here are some ways we’ve been able to maintain an active lifestyle with a baby, and hopefully you will be encouraged and find something that works for you!

  • Get a baby sitter. By far the easiest option, but not one we all have access to. In fact, I save this for dates, and have never left Amiya with anyone for anything sports or fitness related.
  • Use a front carrier. This one has been a HUGE life saver. I use the JJ Cole carrier EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.
JJ Cole baby carrier

It’s been great for morning/evening walks, hikes, traipsing over hills while taking pictures at a Spartan race, game nights, dinner with friends, etc. I pop Amiya in there and she’s usually asleep in a matter of minutes.

This frees up my hands, and has been a game changer for getting out of the house. Find one your baby likes because you will NOT regret it, and there are so many options out there.

I haven’t personally tried it, but I’ve also heard great things about the Boppy Comfyfit baby carrier, and want to try that one out.

  • Do things with a group. This pretty much ensures that there are willing hands that can take your little one. During Ultimate Frisbee or Spikeball I’ll sub out with my husband, or a friend so we all get to play, and Amiya is kept happy.
  • Don’t underestimate the power of the picnic blanket. There are so many baby gadgets out there for keeping them contained outdoors, but when they’re little, just use a blanket! Put them on there and talk/play with them while you wait for your turn.

It’s also great for if you’re working out. Pop out blanket, calm them real quick if they cry, and move on.

We love these zipper picnic blankets for park trips, and always keep it in the car.

Zipper picnic blanket/ How to maintain an active lifestyle with a baby

There are also cool items like this travel bassinet that would be a great option! Again, I don’t have one, but would like to try one out.

Try to have a rough idea of your baby’s schedule.

And by schedule I mean, how long are they usually awake in-between naps? If your baby is on a sleeping schedule, great. For me personally, I didn’t want Amiya to be set on sleeping only at certain times and places, because really, who wants their life to be dictated by a snoozing infant?

Amiya is usually awake for 1-2 hour stretches, sometimes shorter depending on the day. I feed her when she shows signs of being hungry, and bounce her or put her in her carrier when she starts to act tired. This way no matter where I am life is pretty much normal for her.

Doing this with your baby can take a lot of stress away from being out, and you can still have a pretty normal life.

If they have a normal nap time, work that to your advantage.

Lower your expectations

Figuring out how to maintain an active lifestyle with a baby is completely doable, BUT, it’s a good idea to lower your expectations for what it will look like for a while.

Are you used to working out for an hour or more at a time, but your baby will only let you squeeze in 15 minutes? Make the most of that 15 minutes. You don’t have to sacrifice your workout completely, just adjust for your new life.

I love what Miranda and Julian Alcaraz from Street Parking say… Do more than nothing.

Consistency is key, even if it’s only for 15 minutes.

How to maintain an active lifestyle with a baby

We recently went Bouldering with a group and my sister and I traded off holding Amiya and climbing. Sure, I had to take more breaks to meet the tiny human’s needs, but I still got some routes in and had fun. I sat on the floor and nursed her, and laid her down on her changing pad when she was happy to just look around.

Your baby is joining your family… You are not joining theirs.

A friend just said that recently as we discussed this topic, and I really liked it.

Although remember…you are a parent now. As such, there WILL be sacrifices, and sometimes you do need to say no because of your little one, but you will have to find that balance as a family.

For the first two months, Amiya got over-stimulated very easily. If too many people were in her face, or if there was too much noise she would lose it and often be cranky the next day. The only way to calm her down was to take her into a quiet room and stand in front of a blank wall. Because of that I tried to limit our social life during the week to only two things.

She has grown out of that almost completely and I only notice it when we stay with my family where there are lots of people for more than a day.

Work around your baby’s needs and make sure yours/ your partners get met.

Plan ahead.

Yeah, kind of a no-brainer, but this is crucial. Think about all your options for what you can do with your baby. Whether it’s carrying them the whole time, using a front carrier, other people, a blanket/ bassinet…think everything through. Hope for the best, plan for the worst. Sure it’s great if your baby is super happy the entire time, but realistically that’s not going to happen, and it’s best if you have a plan B…and C…and possibly D.

Talk with your partner about your expectations. Ladies, even the sweetest of husbands can disappear in the blink of an eye at events. Talk over a loose plan before you go for them to take a turn with your peanut, so you can relax and enjoy your time too.

What I tell my husband is..

-Don’t ask if I want him to take Amiya. Just take her. Odds are I’ve had her all day and am ready for some me time.

-Put yourself in my shoes…would you want to take her the whole time and not get to participate?

And

-I’m happy to have her most of the time as long as I get some little breaks.

Most of the time I’m fine with letting him have some play time, I just want to know that he’s willing, and thinking of my needs.

How to maintain an active lifestyle with a baby

Maintaining an active lifestyle with a baby is a juggling act, but enjoy it.

Now that Amiya is three months it’s so much easier to do things as she’s far more content to look around at her surroundings.

Don’t let being active with a baby scare you. Start small, don’t let their crying stress you out, make sure their needs are met, and enjoy easing back into your lifestyle.

And remember…they’re not little for long, so enjoy this phase with your tiny human.

The Best Ever No-Bake Energy Balls Recipe

Today I want to share one of the most frequently used recipes in our home…

Energy Balls.

If you’re a mom, I don’t need to ask you if you’re busy. The two go hand in hand whether you have one kid or 20.

We try to balance work, family, laundry, dishes, cooking, and every other household chore possibly while also breastfeeding and on a very limited sleep schedule.

Healthy meals and snacks often take a back burner and out comes the macaroni and cheese, and cheez-it crackers.

Easy, healthy energy ball recipe

I may or may not be speaking from personal experience and I only have one kid.

Because we’re busy we need stuff we can throw together pretty quickly and have on hand in the fridge to grab and go. My favorite solution?

Super easy, healthy and delicious Energy Balls.

Kid friendly, and approved by my husband and hordes of hungry frisbee players. I get asked to make these for events and they never last long.

I kept them on hand almost constantly towards the end of my pregnancy and would grab a few on the way to bed to satisfy my munchies.

Easy, healthy energy ball recipe

They’re also fantastic for nursing mamas. Breastfeeding leaves you constantly parched and hungry, especially in the beginning, and these are a great healthy, easy snack to keep you feeling satisfied in-between meals.

I often make a double batch of energy balls and split them between my husband and I in labeled containers. Mostly so he won’t plow through them all before I get any, he likes them that much. And I should add, he’s not a hugely healthy eater…

Full of fiber, healthy fats, Omega 3’s, and protein, (and also a bit of chocolate), these are a perfect option for the busy mama to prep ahead of time.

Healthy No Bake Energy Balls

Delicious & packed with protein, fiber and healthy fats, this is the only Energy Ball recipe you'll ever need!
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time0 mins
Course: Snack
Cuisine: American
Servings: 40 Balls
Author: Emily Lampert

Ingredients

  • 2 Cups Rolled Oats (can also use quick oats)
  • 2 Cups Unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1 Cup Peanut Butter (may need to add a bit more)
  • 1/2-1 Cup Semi-Sweet chocolate chips
  • 3/4 Cup Honey
  • 1 Cup Ground Flax (Or hemp hearts)
  • 2 tsp Vanilla
  • 1 tsp Cinnamon

Instructions

  • Combine all ingredients into bowl.
  • Mix well with hands until everything is well incorporated and you can easily make a ball, adding more peanut butter if needed to hold it's shape.
  • Roll into roughly 40 balls, 1 1/2" in diameter, or desired size.
  • Store in the fridge in an air tight container.

Set yourself up for success by making a batch of energy balls at the beginning of the week for a healthy grab and go option!

You could also easily add chia seeds into the mix, I just never have them on hand.

Easy, healthy energy ball recipe

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Dear Postpartum Me: A letter for the struggling postpartum mama

Dear Postpartum me,

First off, Congratulations on the life that you are bringing into this world!

I know the last 40 weeks have been hard… Seemingly endless nausea, losing weight, late night heartburn, exhaustion, then the weight gain and still endless nausea.

Food aversions that leave you living on toast and Costco muffins, if you’re able to even keep anything down.

Slowly watching certain activities slip from your grasp, making you feel like nothing more than a spectator and the “pregnant lady” in the group. Throwing up at work, and having to come out smiling. Hip flexor pain, having a rib out, and difficulty sleeping.

The constant well- meaning questions about how you’re feeling, how far along you are as well as comments about your size. You ask yourself if anyone even cares about you aside from your pregnancy.

Trying to stay hydrated for yourself and your child and feeling like a failure as you wind up with two IV’s over the course of your 40 weeks…

Watching your once athletic body become something else.

The list goes on and on…

As you enter this wonderful, crazy, hard 4th trimester, (aka: Postpartum) there are a few things I want you to know…

Postpartum body image

You are incredibly strong.

9 months of pregnancy is hard, especially in a world that really doesn’t value life

You are beautiful.

There will be times where you stand in front of the mirror and pick your postpartum self apart. You will frown upon your stretch marks, your squishier belly, and wider hips. You’ll miss your smaller bra size.

You will look at pictures from two years ago and want to look like that again.

Please don’t do that.

Society wants us to think that beauty is only found in flawless skin and model-like curves. I’m here to tell you that beauty is found in so many other ways. Your stretch marks are no more ugly than someone else’s freckles, or dimples.

Change does not equal ugly.

You are no less beautiful or desirable to your husband. You will not be loved less by your family, friends, or your child.

Wear your stretch marks proudly. They are a reminder of your strength and what you did to bring life to another. Let your baby girl grow up seeing a mom who isn’t ashamed of them, in a world that will try to teach her otherwise.

Postpartum body image

Be patient.

I know this postpartum period is hard. You’ve been pregnant for what seems like forever, and now you’ve finally given birth.

You will be itching to do all the things you used to do, but you can’t. At least, not yet mama. You will have to be gracious to yourself, and recover. There will be days you feel fine but don’t be fooled by it…you’re only setting yourself up for failure by pushing your limits.

You’ve spent how many years living your life? A year of living a different life for someone else won’t kill you. It’s a sacrifice, yes, but one well worth making.

There will be days where you feel exhausted and overwhelmed. Days where you want to go back to the simple life with just you and your husband. Days where the tears just won’t end as you struggle with pain, stress, and sleep deprivation.

You can do this.

That first month will be hard, but I promise you it gets better. Life with your precious peanut will get easier and you’ll find a new normal. Time goes by so fast and they’re only little once. Enjoy it in all the good moments, and pray harder during the bad one’s.

I know you so badly want to be “normal” again…

You want to run and jump and throw a barbell around.

You want to be intimate with your husband.

You want to not have to think about your every move and whether it’s ok or not.

I promise you, you will get there.

Postpartum body image

There are little victories to be found everyday. Extra chores done around the house, a slightly longer walk, a few extra squats, low-key sports where you basically stand and wait for your teammates to use you, finally using a Kettlebell..

Find those moments and appreciate them. You are getting stronger everyday, and setting yourself up for success by healing well so you can be the best mom, wife, and individual you can be.

Care for your body, love and appreciate it for all the incredible things it can do, and love on your tiny human. Because in the end, life isn’t about our athleticism, beauty, abs, or even ourselves. It’s about the legacy we leave behind.

Let your legacy to your children be your faith, and the knowledge that they are so much more than this world tries to make them into.

Lead by example. Show them they can be proud of “imperfect bodies”.

In a world that mocks and belittles motherhood, show them it is something beautiful and worthy of respect.

This stuff is hard mama, and I am so proud of you for trying to navigate your way through.

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20 Self-Care Ideas for Worn Out Mom’s

Let me tell you…Self-care as a mom is incredibly important.

If anyone had told me how much I was going to struggle during that first month, I’m not sure I would have believed them.

There were so many times I would be crying on the couch, or in bed, bemoaning how simple tasks were hard, my life was only about pumping and bottle feeding, I was getting no sleep, and I was wanting quality time with my husband so bad.

It felt like everything I once enjoyed doing had been snatched away from me in the blink of an eye, and there were days I wanted to crawl into a dark hole and not come out. Ever. Or at least until my child was about 4 years old.

Self-Care for postpartum moms

Just like everything…it get’s better

Our marriage struggled for a bit in there too, as we learned how to communicate all over again. Along with baby came new needs, and voicing them was hard for both of us. This made life feel pretty lonely at times, but I’m happy to say we’re figuring out a new normal, and our marriage is pretty much back to normal again.

As much as I loved our little peanut, there were times I was so tired of holding her all the time, and with my tear, I couldn’t burn off stress and energy like I normally would have. “Me time” was in short order, and part of me felt guilty for wanting it.

Which brings me to my main point…

Never feel guilty for doing stuff for YOU.

Ever.

A refreshed mom is a good mom, and we were all created with passions and dreams. I truly believe that our lives don’t have to end the moment we have kids. Sure, there is some re-adjusting, and things take a bit longer and get interrupted more, but there is no reason to give up doing things for you.

Your baby can survive without you for a couple hours, so enlist your husband, in-laws, a family member, or a friend you trust to take your peanut for a bit.

Even if they don’t take a bottle…just make sure they have a good feeding and you’re safe for a bit.

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Self-Care Ideas for Mom’s

  • Get a haircut! It had been three years since I had one, and you could tell. I left Amiya with my husband, and while she apparently started screaming, he gave her a bottle and she was fine when I got back. I felt like a new woman and all it took was an hour and a half.
  • Get a massage. Again, only an hour or so, but you will feel amazing afterwards, and ready to take on carrying a baby everywhere again
  • Get your nails done. It’s nice to have cute nails even on sweatpants kind of days.
  • Shower. I’ve been hearing from a lot of moms who say they go days without showering because their baby just cries. I absolutely cannot not shower, so that’s not an option. If you can get someone to come over or have family or a neighbor that would take the baby for a bit, just ask them for help so you can shower. Take your time and enjoy it.

I actually always shower at night which is great because if Amiya isn’t already in bed for the night, my husband can take her, and he’ll put her to bed. This means that every night I get a relaxing shower, and I feel human.

Even if you’re not a night shower kind of person, give it a try if you’re able and just see how it goes.

  • Brush your teeth and put makeup on. This form of self-care might not seem that big, but we all have those mornings where the tiny human demands to be held, and we push everything aside, even breakfast, to bow to their every wish. Sometimes you get lucky and they sleep late and you get up before them, but most of the time that doesn’t happen. What do you do? Change their diaper and feed them, take a few minute to talk to them and give their squishy cheeks some kisses, and put them in their bouncy seat, swing, etc.

They might cry, but they will survive. You’re not a bad mom for getting yourself ready for the day, and a touch of makeup goes a long ways to feel like the woman you were before baby came.

  • Go clothes shopping. Odds are your body is a totally different shape from both your pre-pregnancy and pregnant self now. You might find yourself staring at your closet wanting something flattering, comfy, and that you can also breastfeed in and come up short every time.

Can’t leave the baby? go with a friend and take turns handing him/her off while you browse and try stuff on.

Small budget? Hit some different Goodwill’s…you can easily get an outfit for $15 or less.

  • Dress up a bit! Wear something cute, complete with makeup and jewelry. It might not seem like that big of a deal, but to me it always makes a big difference.
  • Take yourself out for a coffee/Meet up with a friend. Enjoy some girl time, talk about life, encourage one another and come back energized.
  • Go on a date with your spouse. This is my favorite form of self-care. My love language is quality time, plus I tend to be more of an introvert and my husband is my favorite person to be with. We are fortunate to live next to my in-laws, and they are always more than happy to take Amiya.

You don’t need a ton of time for a great date… We went out for lunch, and bowled two games +drive time in two hours and had a blast. Peanut slept the whole time, and I was so excited to see her when we got back.

  • Give your spouse a massage. I see you over there…you’re like, “WHAAAAA??? I thought this was for me???”

Don’t forget your partner is all of this… life has been so much about you, and they need some love too! I actually did this for my husband about 4 weeks postpartum and it was wonderful! Again, my in-laws took Amiya and my man got a massage while we enjoyed just talking, and we even got some snuggle time afterwards.

They will feel refreshed too, and in turn will usually be more supportive so it’s a win-win situation.

  • Exercise. Depending on where you’re at after having a baby, this is a great form of self care. Even if you’re not cleared for exercise completely, just go for a walk! Go alone and listen to music, a podcast, sermon…whatever floats your boat. Go with your partner or a friend. Or, if you don’t have anyone to watch the baby, put them in the stroller or front pack during their nap-time. You can still listen to something, or just enjoy the sights and sounds. Self care doesn’t always have to exclude your baby, especially if that means you won’t do something that makes you feel better.

You can also try some yoga or Pilates videos while the tiny human naps. If they wake up and you’re not finished yet, remember it’s ok to let them cry for a few minutes. Or if you know they just want to eat and then will be happy, feed them and then finish what you were doing.

  • Start a blog. Sound crazy? It kind of is, but if you enjoy writing and feel like you have experiences that will help others or just want an outlet, it’s a fun way to do something you enjoy from home.

Once I’m done with house stuff and Amiya is napping I make a run for my computer and crank out as much as I can. It keeps me busy and is something I really enjoy.

  • Cook or bake something. For those that love being in the kitchen this is a great option! Pass the baby off and make something you’ve been wanting to for a while and get creative! For me personally, this is not something that was appealing even though I enjoy baking…
  • DIY something. Had a project you’ve been itching to do? Let life slow down, ignore the dishes and start on it.
  • Meet up with a friend who also has a little person. This one has been huge for me. I’ve made a friend who has two little’s, one of which is only 10 days older than Amiya. I always feel so refreshed after talking with her, and we don’t have to find a sitter. We chat amidst breastfeeding, and diaper changes…
  • NAP! Just like they say…sleep when your baby sleeps. I took so many naps with Amiya on the couch in those first few weeks. It’s hard to stay down while recovering, but enjoy the fact that no one expects anything from you and just sleep.
  • Pick a movie you’ve been wanting to watch. Lounge at home with a good movie or tv series and enjoy baby snuggles.
  • Read a book.
  • Take a bath. I’m not a bath person, but if you are, go for it! Enjoy soaking in a warm tub with some music and maybe even a book.

Self-care doesn’t have to be anything huge.

Often times it’s the little things we give up when a baby comes, and those little things add up over time.

Sometimes it’s things like:

  • Making the bed. I don’t know about you, but if the bed is made and our bedroom is decently clean, I feel so much better. When it’s cluttered I feel like I can’t function.

The same goes for the rest of the house.

Sometimes I pass the baby off to family and clean the house with windows open and music going, and feel energized as I crank stuff out.

Other days it’s a mad dash to get stuff done while she’s napping, but I feel good because I got stuff accomplished and my husband gets to come home to a clean home.

Self-care for the worn out mom

Learn how to “do you” with a baby.

This takes some figuring out, but you’ll get there! You can still have a life after baby without always passing them off. Start making small goals to do one thing for yourself each day. Remember, small things repeated over time make a huge difference

MAKE time for your hobbies. You love on your family, so love on yourself too.

What does self-care look like for you?

Lifecolor Diaper Bag Review

+ What’s in my Diaper Bag

I’m sure I can’t be the only expectant mother who was so excited to pick out, and fill my diaper bag.

for some reason it made everything feel so real.

I knew I wanted one that was a backpack style and was planning on getting a Bag Nation backpack. A friend of mine has one so I was able to get my hands on it. My husband liked it, and it certainly had lots of pockets so I added it to our baby registry.

What's in My diaper bag for a Newborn + Mom -Lifecolor Diaper bag review

Target had a few decent options but I felt like most of them were just one giant pocket and hard to get into them.

My due date rapidly approached and no diaper bag appeared, and I was about to order it when my MIL showed me a few different ones she found on OfferUp. The one that stood out the most to me was the Lifecolor bag, so I started googling it and watching reviews.

I was intrigued by it, and definitely liked how stylish it was. Plus it was half the price of the Bag Nation backpack, and I’m always down for saving money.

I was a bit nervous about what my husband would think, but I showed it to him, and he actually liked it. He also said it was my decision because he’s sweet like that, but I wanted one he wouldn’t feel weird carrying.

I’ve been using it for two months now, and I really like it!

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase from them I may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you.

Cost wise, it’s definitely more budget friendly than most, even it’s twin style bags made by HaloVa and Pipi Bear.

What I like about this diaper bag…

  • The size is manageable. It’s not huge, but I also feel like it holds a lot without being crammed full. I don’t know how it would do if you’re using it for two kids, which could be an issue, but I feel like it could be possibly be doable. Unless you’re a major over-packer…
What's in My diaper bag for a Newborn + Mom -Lifecolor Diaper bag review
  • The top is rigid, and stays open. You know how most backpacks open and then basically collapse on themselves? This one has some kind of boning in it and the top opens nice and wide.
Lifecolor diaper bag review + what's in my diaper bag
  • Several Interior pockets. There are 5 pockets in the main compartment, two large ones on the side, two smaller ones on the front side, and a small zipper pouch on the back.
What's in My diaper bag for a Newborn + Mom -Lifecolor Diaper bag review
  • The backpack is deep, but the pockets only go halfway down. That might seem odd, but the backpack is nice and deep, so there’s plenty of room for the pockets without them being bottomless holes, plus it gives more room in the rest of the bag.
  • Back zipper to the bottom of the bag. I didn’t think this was that cool until I got the bag. I keep my wallet at the bottom so I never have to dig…I just pop open the back zipper and BAM. There it is. It also makes it impossible to get my wallet out if I’m carrying the bag on my back.
What's in My diaper bag for a Newborn + Mom -Lifecolor Diaper bag review
  • Wet pouch. On the inside of the back zipper pocket is a waterproof pouch for wet clothes and such. I haven’t used it yet, since I just put soiled clothes in a little bag until I get home, but it’s nice for if you run out, or just want to conserve trash bags.
  • It’s water resistant. Babies. Toddlers. Klutzy moms. Need I say more? It’s super east to wipe with a washcloth if you get it dirty, which is nice.
What's in My diaper bag for a Newborn + Mom -Lifecolor Diaper bag review
  • There’s plenty of room in the very front outside zipper pouch. I’m not bottle feeding anymore, but when I was, I would keep a few bottles in there, as well as a bunch of other stuff and it all fit nicely. Now I keep Tylenol, deodorant, and diaper trash bags in the insulated pockets.
What's in My diaper bag for a Newborn + Mom -Lifecolor Diaper bag review
What's in My diaper bag for a Newborn + Mom -Lifecolor Diaper bag review
  • Outside pocket for wipes. Frees up room inside, which is always helpful.
  • Pocket for water bottles/sippy cups. This was a must for me. Some bags have zippered pouches on the sides for sippy cups, but won’t fit mom’s water bottle. Fellow moms know how much water we need in a day, and if I have to carry a water bottle separately as well as diaper bag, and car seat, you can bet it wouldn’t happen. It’s a pretty large pocket, and when the bag isn’t super full it can fit mine and my husband’s 20 oz Hydro flasks.
What's in My diaper bag for a Newborn + Mom -Lifecolor Diaper bag review
  • Strap for your keys. I really like that it has this. No one likes digging through their bag for their keys, so when you get out of the car just attach them to the strap and never have to dig again!
What's in My diaper bag for a Newborn + Mom -Lifecolor Diaper bag review
  • It’s cute. Mamas…there are days where makeup and cute hair just don’t happen. But there’s something about throwing on a cute, comfy outfit and a stylish diaper bag that can make you feel less…meh. I’m a firm believer in not always sacrificing style just because you have a baby and are tired.I’m also a firm believer in comfy pants and tank tops. Balance.
What's in My diaper bag for a Newborn + Mom -Lifecolor Diaper bag review

Cons:

I honestly can’t think of many, but possibly…

  • The size. Like I said, it works great for one baby + mom, but it might be too small for multiple little’s.
  • It’s a backpack. The nature of backpacks is that they can become a bottomless pit. I feel like this one does a good job of keeping everything in it’s place, but if you’re just really picky, it could be an issue for you.
  • There are no stroller straps. This one is definitely a bummer. Although I have yet to use my stroller because I use the JJ Cole front carrier, (review coming soon), and throw the bag on my back. It can fit in the bottom of a stroller unless you already have that filled up.

Other than that I have no issues with it!

What do I pack for baby + mama?

  • Diapers. Usually about 6
  • Wipes
  • 2 burp cloths
  • Baby powder
  • Baby washcloth
  • Extra onesie + pants
  • Jammies
  • Socks
  • Changing pad
  • Pacifier
  • Extra nursing pads
  • Nipple cream
  • Nail clippers
  • Pads
  • Plantain/lavender salve
  • Nursing cover
  • Sunglasses
  • Wallet
  • Cotton swaddle blanket
  • JJ Cole Baby Carrier
  • Water bottle
  • Phone
  • Keys
What's in My diaper bag for a Newborn + Mom -Lifecolor Diaper bag review
  • Infant Tylenol
  • Diaper trash bags
  • Deodorant {Must have for any mom}
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Tissue packs
  • Several snack options
  • Gum
Lifecolor Diaper bag review + What's in my diaper bag for a newborn + mama

When Amiya starts teething and being more mobile, I’ll swap some stuff out, but for now, that’s what I always have in my diaper bag.

Drop a comment below with your number one diaper bag essential!

Diaper bag review

Postpartum Essentials + What to Expect After a Natural Birth

When I first started looking up articles on postpartum care and recovery, I was shocked and terrified. I read posts where women talked about how horrible it was bleeding out for 6 weeks and wearing massive diapers that wouldn’t’ even hold it all, bathroom trips that hurt worse than labor, the seemingly bazillion products they were using just to make it bearable, and my brain just wanted to check out of anything postpartum related.

Postpartum recovery

Actually, it did. It was two days before my due date and I had nothing for postpartum. No nursing bras, pads…nothing. Zilch. Nada.

If I didn’t think about it maybe it wouldn’t be that bad, right? Honestly, I’m really bad at taking care of myself sometimes. My life motto seems to be grin and bear it, and I hate buying stuff for myself most of the time.

{ I actually have three life motto’s… the one mentioned above, fake it til you make it, and, when in doubt, park way out. Those are the three main motto’s I live by. Anyway…}

That day I went and bought bras and pads. I was set. Or, so I thought, and then little peanut came along, and I had a 4th degree tear thrown into the postpartum recovery mix. Thanks for that, schnookums.

Obviously everyone’s recovery is different, but I can tell you this…6 weeks sounds like forever, but it goes fast, and your body was meant to do this, so it will heal if you’re smart and don’t overdo it before you’re ready.

It wasn’t a fun process, and because of how Amiya’s birth went I couldn’t do anything for myself. I had to have a stool to get in bed, My husband shaved my legs for me, and I couldn’t even bend down to pick up a q-tip when I wanted one. I survived that though, and I’m hoping it will make recovering from a normal birth seem much easier.

For you overwhelmed mamas, these are some of the products I used, and my thoughts on them, and even a few things that I had and didn’t use like I thought I would.

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning I may earn a small commission from purchases made from them, at no additional cost to you.

1: Depends adult diapers

This is one I literally didn’t think I would need or want. When I left the birthing center this is what they put me in though, and let me tell you…

These highly attractive undies were amazing.


You can say goodbye to your more snug fitting clothing during the postpartum period, so it’s not a problem that these are a bit on the bulky side.


I liked that I never had to worry about leakage, and they were far more comfortable than having a giant pad.


Do yourself a favor and just grab two packs. You might not need them all, but better safe than sorry. I went through a pack and a half, and got a medium which fit great for my 5’1″ 130lb frame.

I had purchased regular large pads from walmart and ended up never even touching them because the Depends were so much better!

The hospital will send you home with massive pads and snazzy mesh underwear, but those drove me nuts so I stopped using them about a day into it.

2: Dermoplast spray

This wasn’t something I expected to use because I didn’t buy it and didn’t think I’d end up at the hospital, but when I went for my stitches they sent me home with two cans.


I’m so glad I had it! It’s for relief for burning and itching, and I used it liberally after every bathroom trip/Depends change.


If you’re using a hospital they should send you home with some, but if they don’t just ask for it. If you run out, or are doing a birthing center/home birth you can find it on Amazon for pretty cheap.
For me personally it would have been worth every penny, and if you’re on the fence, just do it.

3: Tucks Cooling pads

This was also something that the hospital sent me home with. You line up two or three like tomatoes on a sandwhich on your pad, and honestly I didn’t like them.

I used them off and on for a bit when I was feeling extra sore and wanted to do aaaaaall the things for relief, but I found them more irritating than anything. They kept bunching up and sitting in places that didn’t feel good, and sometimes it almost seemed like they made my swelling worse.

They gave me two containers of them and I only used half of one.
They’re worth a try if they give them to you, but they just weren’t my thing personally, and it’s not something I’ll probably have on hand after my next birth.

4: Peri Bottle with Herbal perineum rinse

This stuff. This was my saving grace.


Again, The hospital gave me a peri bottle, and my mom made up some herbal perineum rinse to help with healing down there. She made a big pot of it, and kept the extra liquid in a mason jar in the fridge so I could refill my bottle as needed.

Some people might not like squirting cold liquid down there and may want to find a way to keep it lukewarm, but I loved that it was cold. I did this after every bathroom trip/pad change as well.


Out of everything I used, this stuff and the dermoplast spray were my favorite.


It was a mixture of Chamomile, Calendula, Comfrery, Lavender, Epsom salt, and Lavender essential oil.

If you’re super ambitious you could make your own mix, or if you’re lazy like me you could buy pre-made stuff online.


If you don’t know where to look, you can contact Kelly Menne at The Nurtured Mother and tell her you’re interested in a peri-bottle blend.

5: Padscicles

Just like it sounds…Frozen pads. They have a mixture of Witch Hazel, Aloe Vera gel, and usually Lavender.


A friend gave me some and I used a few.


While I enjoyed the coolness it offered, the size of the pad was just a bit too big and bunched up too much which irritated my stitches. Definitely worth trying if you make them ahead of time, or know of someone who would do them for you. Just be sure to pick a comfortable pad size.

Haley over at Let’s Mama has a super easy tutorial on how to make them so definitely check that out, and also look through the rest of her blog for other Postpartum tips!

6: Sitz Bath Bags

Also something given to me by a friend. I used one for a bath, stayed in for all of 4 minutes and got out of the tub.

I’m really just not a bath person and got bored. I didn’t notice any amazing relief from that, so Instead I used one of the bags to refill my peri bottle.
Some people swear by Sitz baths, but not me.

7: Colace

This is a very important one, and if you’re on the fence, stop now and just go get it.

Yep. The stool softener. I remember reading one gal saying that first postpartum poop was worse than birth. After getting stitched up it was highly recommended I take it to avoid possible issues, especially since I was already so swollen, and I’m so glad I did. I only took one, or occasionally two a day, and I had no issues whatsoever with painful bowel movements.
Get yourself some, and have one less thing to deal with.

8: AAAAAAALL THE SNACKS!!!

Maybe not what you’d originally think about for postpartum care, but stock up on as many easy snacks as you can. When you’re tired and in the middle of nursing, or crawling back in bed at 3 A.M, out for your postpartum check up, etc, youre going to want something quick you can grab. Just like everyone says… breastfeeding leaves you starving and parched.

Some of my favorites to have on hand are the Lenny & Larry’s cookies, namely the double chocolate chip. They’re vegan, which is great for those who eat that way, have a decent amount of protein, and are a yummy way to get those calories in while nursing.

Postpartum snacks

I really struggled with eating after having Amiya, so I like this for a more substantial snack. Plus they’re incredibly filling. Follow the link and use the code BA124613 for 20% off your purchase.

Some other great options are…

Nature Valley Granola bars (I like pretty much all of theirs)
– Quest Bars
-Kind Bars
-Lara Bars
-Cliff Bars
-Almonds
-Peanuts
-Homemade energy balls
-Fruit
-Lunch meat & cheese
-& Greek yogurt cups

I keep my diaper bag and cupboard continously stocked with some kind of bar because I always have the munchies. They can be kind of pricey so keep an eye out for coupons, or check your local Grocery Outlet or bargain store for snacks. They usually have them for a fraction of the cost.

9: Mother’s Love Nipple Cream

For Amiya and I, nursing was incredibly difficult. My milk came in hard and fast two days after birth, and I was ridiculously engorged. I cried a lot, suffered (and once swore) through painful nursing sessions, with my teeth gritted and toes curling.

One time I just cried and said, “I can’t do this anymore.”
She would leave my nipples cracked, blistered and creased, and I would feel so defeated.


I had to start pumping and syringe/bottle feeding simply because she had caused so much damage that I couldn’t handle her nursing anymore. Even showering became painful…


Once I started using this cream religiously after every single pumping/feeding they healed up really fast.
So many people told me nursing would get better and they were right…It might seem like it will never get there, but hang in there!

For me it took seeing a Lactation consultant, a Chiropractor who specializes in infants, lots of jaw and neck exercises for baby, seeing an oral specialist in Portland, and finally going to Dr. Ghaheri who specializes in tongue tie for a tongue revision just to get things working right.

Hopefully you won’t have to go through all that, but if you do, I’ve been there! It’s not fun, but you’ve got this mama!
If you have questions about my experience with a tongue tied baby, feel free to shoot me a message!

Postpartum recovery after a natural birth

If you’re like me, you’ll look at this and start to feel overwhelmed all over again, and wonder how and when to use everything, so I’ll share my “routine”.

I kept everything on a shelf right by the toilet for easy access.
I also had a cup on the shelf, and everytime I went to the bathroom I would fill it with luke warm water, and rinse.

Some people have a burning sensation when they pee, (I didn’t), and the water can help with that, or just feel good in general.


After using the bathroom I would liberally use the herbal peri-bottle water all over the sore areas.


I would then spray the Dermoplast down there, and if I was using the tucks pads I’d get fresh ones.

Compared to what some people shared it was easy and quick. I wish I could say painless, but…birth.

If this is TMI, I apologize, but this is what I was wishing someone would have shared when I was researching postpartum care.

What recovery from a 4th degree tear was like for me:

The first two weeks were by far the worst.

When I walked it felt like someone tied a string from my sternum to my pelvis and I literally couldn’t stand up straight. I opted out of the stronger pain meds they prescribed me, and just took Ibuprofen and Tylenol.

Everything was so sore and swollen down there and I can’t even really describe what it felt like. Just like a jumbled up puffy mess that hurt.

There were only a few places I could actually sit comfortably. The couch and bed. Forget the rocking chair. Getting in and out of a moving chair without a ton of discomfort was impossible, and it’s hard to slowly raise yourself from a rocking chair.


I basically couldn’t do anything, and had to rely on other people for everything. All my meals were made for me, my pain meds were brought to me, and I couldn’t even refill my water bottle.


I just sat and snuggled my baby and pumped, with the occasional shuffle to the bathroom, which is basically what you should do postpartum, but I physically couldn’t do anything more than that.

Actually, funny story… The day after I gave birth I was trying to nurse at home, and it was so hot in our house I couldn’t handle it anymore. My mom and I walked (or rather, shuffled) next door to my in-laws house so I could sit in the air-conditioning while my hubby got ours installed.

My midwife was horrified when I told her I had done that. After that I did a much better job at staying down…mostly.

I also had someone staying with me 24/7 for the first two weeks. All things considered I healed really fast, and I credit it to all the people who stayed with me and did every little thing I asked.

By week three I was pretty much walking normally and was super happy to not feel like my stitches were always about to rip like something from Winnie the Pooh. Still moving slow, and trying to stay down as much as possible, but doing a few things around the house each day. My bleeding had also basically stopped and I was just using a tiny sports pad

I started getting out of the house around week three, which made a huge difference, because I get major cabin fever.

Still didn’t do anything crazy, but I was able to drive myself to the frisbee field, and went on my first solo trip to walmart with a baby. That felt like a major accomplishment considering the week before I could barely get off the couch.

For me I feel like week 4-5 was when I started to really feel more like myself and started going on a daily walk.


I’m now 8 weeks postpartum and am feeling pretty good, but I still have some occasional soreness, and have started a really gentle workout plan that I’ll be sharing soon.

Postpartum recovery looks different for everyone, but For those who have a birth with no complications, it will look much different than mine.

What can you expect postpartum to look like?

-Soreness in your perineum area, and some swelling.

Despite what some say, it’s not the worst thing ever.

Just stay down as much as possible, ignore the fact that your rug needs to be vacuumed (better yet, ask someone to do it for you), and be prepared to shuffle.

With a 4th degree tear, I had to painfully scoot my bottom in and out of bed, and even just getting situated on the couch was super hard, but if you don’t tear, this won’t be nearly as much of an issue.

-Difficulty with bowel movements

But if you take Colace or some other type of laxative, it’s not a problem.

You probably won’t have one for a day or two, which is normal, and you should avoid anything that could cause issues, especially dairy. I know, it’s hard…especially with people loading you up on cheesy lasagna.


Keep your diet pretty boring and healthy to help avoid issues.

-Bleeding (go figure).


It will be heavy for a few days, (but shouldn’t soak more than a pad an hour. If it does, contact your midwife/OB), and will lighten up then turn into something more like spotting here and there. Some articles led me to believe that I would be bleeding out heavily for 6 solid weeks, but it’s nothing like that.
Like I said, mine pretty much stopped by three weeks, but I continued to wear a tiny pad for the random spotting that happened here and there.

-Cramping


This is one thing I don’t remember real well about those first few days postpartum. I remember having bad cramps, but they mainly seemed to come on while nursing. Which, with my nursing experience, was awful. Breastfeeding was already so painful, and then throw cramping into the mix and it’s no wonder I was a crying mess.
This only lasted a few days though for me. It wasn’t 6 weeks of cramps, hallelujah…

-Aaaaaaall the emotions


I was a complete wreck for a while. I was tired of being in what seemed like 52 different kinds of pain, and watching other people go on with their normal lives.

Meanwhile I could hardly even scoot up in bed to nurse.

Combine that with sleep deprivation, pumping and bottle feeding every two hours which basically feels like having twins and missing my family who lives almost three hours away, it’s a wonder I haven’t cried my eyeballs out.

-Exhaustion


No matter how long your labor is, it’s crazy hard work. I was so tired, but for me it wasn’t that “so exhausted I couldn’t function” feeling.

One thing I wasn’t expecting was to feel super weak, shaky and out of breath just walking to and from the bathroom.


My tired brain couldn’t understand why I felt like that, and then I went, “Duh. You lost a lot of blood yesterday, as well as went through something ridiculously painful, you ding-bat!”
Honestly, this was one of the hardest things for me.

Postpartum Essentials to help you survive the postpartum period

Is the postpartum period hard? Yes. Absolutely. Is it the worst thing ever? No.

In the moment it might feel like the world is ending. I had occasional moments like that, but rest lots, hydrate well, snack often, and nap like your life depends upon it.

Don’t be afraid to ask for whatever you need, let yourself heal from what your body did for 9 months, and enjoy snuggling your tiny human, because it really does go crazy fast and they’re only tiny for a short while.

What are you most nervous about postpartum?

Posts you may like:

Amiya’s birth story: My experience with a natural birth

Prenatal stretches for back and hip tightness

Fit in 15: Full-Body Burner {Pregnancy Safe}

Core Strength During Pregnancy

Amiya’s Birth Story -My Experience with a Natural Birth

Birth story, Natural Birth, 4th degree laceration, birthing center

It’s only taken me 6 weeks to post this…It’s hard to put such an amazing experience into words, but I know I’ll forget a lot as time passes, so here are most of the details. There are lots of little moments that I know I’ve left out, but here is most of it…

I remember during one of my last midwife appointments asking if I would know what a contraction was. I was assured I would, and if I was sleeping it would probably wake me up.


My due date got closer and closer and I would have weird twinges and think, “Is this a contraction???” Then my due date arrived and nothing, which made a lot of people happy because my husband was part of an ultimate Frisbee league and the rest of the team really wanted him there for their final game, which happened to be two days after my due date.


He also had co-workers out that same week, and many of them frequently mentioned how they would appreciate if I could wait.


Part of me wanted to give birth on my due date just to spite them all, but my nicer side took over and I did everything I could not to have this baby until the following week.


As in, I didn’t do squats of any kind, I didn’t lift anything even moderately heavy, I stopped climbing on counters, I even quit going on my daily walk. I just laid low.

My due date, June 7th. came and went. People in the store or at church would ask when I was due and I would tell them, “Yesterday”. To which they would always reply, “You look amazing for being over-due!”, or “I remember being 9 days over-due with my first…”


People…never, I repeat NEVER tell a pregnant woman who’s in the last days of pregnancy how late you were, or how late she could be. 40 weeks feels like an eternity when you’ve thrown up for 21 solid weeks, had what feels like a rib out for a few months, can’t find a comfortable sleeping position, are hot constantly, have lost all athletic capabilities that you once had, and just want to be DONE.


My “Yesterday” response to people’s question turned into a “Two days ago”. It was now June 9th, and all things considered, I was feeling pretty good. We went to church that morning, my hair looked fabulous, my makeup wasn’t half bad, and I felt like an adorable little pregnant woman.

Plus, today was the day of the final Frisbee league game. So far I had not gone into labor which people were happy about, and there were no signs of it happening any time soon. I think everyone was holding their breath a little bit though…


We showed up at the game and I cheered, yelled, kept time and the score like usual, feeling normal. Our team won the season undefeated and to celebrate, someone busted out the silly string.

{Fun fact: Never in my life have I used silly string, and it’s been on my bucket list. }

I took that can, probably with an evil glint in my eye, and did what any smart, 40 weeks pregnant person would do…started a war with my husband. he took off down the field, and I sprinted, (yes, you read that right. I SPRINTED) after him, yelling, “I MIGHT BE FAT BUT I CAN STILL MOVE FAST!!!”
Stupid move. I ended up pulling a muscle in my groin. Not fun.

That night was ridiculously painful because I couldn’t even roll over in bed and I thought to myself…”Hope I don’t go into labor like this.”

Midnight came, and I felt 2 small “possibly contractions”, and made a note on my phone of them and promptly went to sleep. 2:00 am I woke up to go to the bathroom, and lo and behold…there went my mucus plug. I wasn’t expecting to see that so I got excited, but then thought, “Eh, it could still be days from now…”


3:45-ish in the morning I kissed my husband goodbye as he left for work, just like normal, but decided not to say anything to him. He might think it was gross anyway…lol

Early labor


6:30 am I was sleeping soundly when all of the sudden I woke up with this weird feeling.


You know in the movies where all the sudden they’re like, “this is it!”? That’s how I felt. Everyone said I would know what a contraction was when I had one, and they were right. It wasn’t overly painful, but definitely strong.

I laid back down and 10 minutes later, on the nose, another one came. It was impossible to sleep because right off the bat they were coming every 10 minutes lasting 20-30 seconds. They weren’t terrible, and naive as I was, I was like, “man, I don’t know what people complain about…these aren’t bad.” I called my mom to let her know what was going on since she’s a few hours away, and the plan was to wait it out a bit longer just to make sure this wasn’t a false alarm, and I would call her when I thought she should leave.


I hadn’t even called my husband at this point so he was clueless, and it was almost 8:00.

I was doing fine and didn’t want him to feel like he had to rush home, but on his 8:00 break I let him know I was pretty positive I was in labor. Of course he asked if I wanted him to come home, but I said I was fine.

Every time a contraction hit I would stop and kind of double over, then I would continue on my way, so I didn’t think it was necessary for him to skip work because it could be hours, and hours before we needed to leave for the birthing center.


I used this time to fix the swimsuit skirt I bought for labor, packed my bag, swept and mopped the floors, washed dishes,etc.


Contractions were sporadic, but strong.

I would have some that were 10 minutes apart, then 3, then 7, etc. At 10:00 am my mom and I decided it was a good idea for her to start heading up. I was pretty much fine laboring alone and it still wasn’t bad, but by the time my husband’s 11:00 break rolled around I was wishing for a hand to hold, and for some company.

I said if he wanted to come home I wouldn’t be opposed, but in the end we decided it was best if he just finished his day.


Someone asked him how he handled it when I told him I was in labor. He said he was kind of in disbelief because I was cracking jokes, and sounded normal through texting…

By 12:20 my contractions had gotten a lot stronger and I wanted him home, but he only had 10 minutes of work left, and a short drive, so luckily I didn’t have to wait long. My mom got here about 15 minutes later, and all the sudden contractions went back to being 10 minutes apart.

I was still puttering around the house, leaning on the counter when I needed to, finishing up some last minute things. My mom suggested Abe and I go on a walk to see if it would get things going again and I kept saying I didn’t want to. With her gentle encouragement I finally agreed to it, and we set off for a slooooow walk around the block.


For most people that’s supposed to speed things up. It made my contractions almost come to a grinding halt, and I had maybe one.

One sad lonely contraction.

I started to feel guilty, like maybe I made a wrong call, and little Amiya wasn’t coming for another day or two.
Since things seemed to be calm, mom went to the bakery for more bread for the post birth meal, and I encouraged Abe to eat something and go nap. There was no telling how long this would take so I wanted him to eat and sleep while he could, much like me.

Shortly after my mom left, My contractions were suddenly 2-3 minutes apart and much stronger. Abe had just laid down and closed his eyes, my mom walked in the door, and I said, “We need to go, and we need to go NOW.”

Procrastinators that we are, he threw a few things in his bag, in case we had to stay overnight, and gathered the car seat, camera bag, diaper bag, and my bag as I hugged my mother-in-law, and little sister-in-law goodbye.

They were so sweet and brought me a few bananas which were life savers.

Active labor


We had a 25ish minute drive to the birth center, and let me tell you…there’s something about cars that make contractions so much worse. They were coming every 3-5 minutes, and I was basically bracing myself against the floor boards, and the door trying to breathe. So much fun.


We got there around 3:00 I think, and I walked in myself while Abe parked the car. I briefly joked with the wonderful receptionist, and she commented on how I was still laughing and joking.

It’s often times my coping mechanism for pain…just find something humorous about the situation and its not as bad.


Someone in the room next to me was giving birth and obviously in the pushing stage and as I settled on the bed, feet dangling nervously, listening to her cries of agony, my only thought was, “I don’t want to be here. I want to go home.”


Abe followed shortly along with a midwife who asked to check my cervix. My contractions were still about 3-5 minutes apart and stronger now, and i was really curious to know what I was at.

Naive person that I am, I had no idea how they check how dilated you are. In my brain I was like, “Do they shine a flashlight up there or something???”


Oh Emily. Bless your little soul.


I was at a 5, which I was told was a good thing, since that’s halfway there. I heard the midwife say to someone else that she thought I would be at a 2-3 and have to send me home, and I almost said, “Nope. I knowed it wuz time. I just knowed.”
But I refrained.


To me, that was one of the worst parts. It hurt like crazy and I cried during and after, thinking to myself about how if this was this bad, what would birth feel like???
I made Abe come over so I could hold onto him while I sobbed. Emotionally I was a train wreck. I was excited, terrified, and in pain. Between him, my mom, and me cracking a joke, I got myself calmed down.


Time escaped me completely and I never once looked at a clock. We hadn’t been there long and mom walked to a store nearby, and I decided to get in the tub. I personally don’t like baths anyway, and I got in and sat there for a bit, not noticing any obvious relief and couldn’t figure out a way to get comfy.

Not that there is necessarily a “comfy” way to give birth, but I’m sure you know what I mean.

I wasn’t in there long…maaaaybe 10 minutes at the most before I got bored and decided to try sitting on the birthing ball.
I was sitting there, moving my hips in a figure eight pattern, enjoying the tiny bit of relief it provided when all of the sudden I felt a “POP!”. My eyes got wide and I looked at Abe and pretty calmly said, “My water just broke”.

He looked at the floor, a bit confused because there was nothing there, so I stood up to prove my point. I waddled to the bathroom while he cleaned it up, because we’re tidy like that. We weren’t sure if we were supposed to tell someone my water had broken or just wait until they checked on me, so luckily my mom came in right then and let them know.

Transition


My memory is a bit fuzzy, but I remember after my water broke that my contractions were SO INTENSE.

I felt like I had the flu with the way my whole body ached with each contraction. There was now nothing pleasant about this and I laid miserable on the bed. I tried the tub again now that things were stronger, and I just couldn’t stand it. I didn’t want to sit, I didn’t want to kneel, I don’t think I could have physically squatted.

At this point I started to want to give up and get an epidural at the hospital. Mom tried the hip squeezing technique and it was the only thing that offered any relief. She leaned over the tub squeezing, her arms shaking and I made her and Abe trade so she could take a break.

I couldn’t take it anymore so I got out and crawled back on the bed. I was so hot, so we opened the door facing the street and the turned a fan on me which helped immensely, and I didn’t even care that I could hear all the traffic on the other side of the privacy fence.


I was basically in a child’s pose on the bed knees out, leaning on my forearms, and was having cold sweats, and nausea. Abe was behind still squeezing my hips and mom was in front holding my hands, and I was pressing my head into her chest.

The midwife who I had really wanted to have for my birth came in and put a drop of peppermint on a paper towel in a stainless steel bowl in case I needed to puke.

That bowl was a lifesaver even though I never threw up in it. The smell was so refreshing, and when I wasn’t having a contraction I would turn my head towards the wall with my cheek pressing on the edge, and when I would have a contraction I would stick my head in the bowl, pressing my forehead on the edge as hard as I could to distract me from labor pain.


I was afraid I’d be one of those women who snaps at their husband and doesn’t want to be touched but no. I wanted to be touched and held a lot, and I kept apologizing.
I’d timidly ask him to change up what he was doing and then apologize for being so needy. I even remember telling him he was doing a great job and I appreciated what he was doing but could he please maybe move his hands down a touch?


I also remember saying sorry for feeling like I wanted to push, because for some reason I thought it was too early. My sweet midwife told me to do whatever my body was telling me, but I think I still resisted the urge.

The pushing phase


All the sudden the urge to push hit me so hard I physically couldn’t have stopped it even if I had wanted to. I was not expecting that sensation, and I was totally powerless as my body started to push our baby out.

My head went back into the bowl again, and my yell, (I don’t scream…I yell) echoed. It makes me laugh when I think about it now.

In between pushing wasn’t a long break, and I would stare blankly at the wall either moving my lips silently praying, or just laying there in sheer exhaustion while mom and Abe encouraged me on.

Instead of moving around, my midwife was now sitting on the bed with me, and that gave me enough strength to keep going. If she was there I figured it must be close.

I felt like I wasn’t getting anywhere with pushing, but I wouldn’t move like mom suggested to let gravity help. I hurt too much to move.
Probably 30 minutes into pushing and yelling, my midwife brought over the peanut birthing ball and got me upright more and told me I was really close.

I was hitting my limits, working on holding my contraction a little longer even after the feeling had passed. I just wanted to give up and go to sleep. Then the midwife said those words we all love to hear… “I can see your baby’s head.”


I got so excited, and said, “Come on baby girl!”. My brain shifted gears and went into over drive. I wanted to see her so bad, and pushed with everything I had. I could feel her head coming out, and it was sheer agony.

There was also something that felt like a pop, or a tear, but everything happened so fast I didn’t really think about it, and I felt her little body slide out, apparently with the cord around her neck, around her body, and through her legs.

My midwife later said she was amazed at how fast it went from seeing about the head about the size of a nickel, to being completely out.


After only 45 minutes of pushing I was getting to see my baby.


I moved as fast as I could, which wasn’t fast, to slide my body over hers on my knees, and picked up her tiny little 6lb body, holding her to my chest in disbelief. I was crying, Abe was crying…not sure about mom…mom, were you crying? Lol.

She was so small, with a headful of hair, and just so perfect. She fit so perfectly in my hands, and I couldn’t believe it was all over. I can still remember how my chin felt with dried blood on it from where I rested it on her head.

Everything from here on out is a bit fuzzy, but I remember my whole body shaking so hard from adrenaline I had to clutch Amiya to my chest, and it felt like forever until I calmed down.

After a little bit we got me a bit more comfortable and cleaned the bed up, Abe and I had some alone time with our baby, and ate the most delicious meal I’ve ever had…a turkey sandwich and pineapple.

seriously… if you’re in need of ideas for a meal after the birth, do sandwich stuff and fruit. Easy and delicious.


I think it was when two of the midwives came in after this, that they said I had torn, but they couldn’t tell how bad, and needed to check me out. I so badly wanted it to just be a little tiny tear, because I’m terrified of stitches, and who really wants to tear down there?


They stayed very calm, which is good, otherwise I would have been shaking violently again, and they said something to each other about it looking like a third degree laceration. I had no idea what that meant but didn’t think it could be that bad.


Megan, the midwife who was attended my birth, told me it would require me to go to the hospital, and laid out a rough timeline for what needed to happen before I was transported there, and left the room briefly. I don’t remember if it was Abe or I, but one of us must have asked mom how bad it was. She very honestly said, “Well, she tore one of the worst tears you can tear.”

Natural Birth story, birth, birthing center, 4th degree laceration


We were there for about three hours after the birth, and it went by crazy fast. Amiya got weighed, measured, and all that stuff, while Abe and I worked on paperwork, and then I got cleaned up and dressed.

the walk from the bed was difficult, and I had to hold on to the assistant just to get there, in and out of the tub, and dressed. I had literally just finished pulling my shirt over my head when in walked the people there to transport me to the hospital.


This was my first time on a gurney, and in an ambulance and I hope to never repeat it. My mom took Amiya in one car, Megan took her own car and was going to facilitate our transfer and head back to the birthing center.

Abe was in the front of the ambulance and I was in the back.
The hospital we went to was massive, and I could feel myself getting more and more nervous the further we went. The only thing keeping me from starting to hyperventilate was the fact that I was holding onto Abe’s finger as he walked beside me.


In case you were wondering…I don’t like hospitals.


It was now after 10:00 pm, and they were getting me situated in the bed, and getting stuff ready when Megan, mom, and Amiya came in.

I had started shaking again, and was trying not to look at anything. My favorite moment of the whole day, oddly enough, was lying there scared, and my mom bringing Amiya over and putting her tiny little body on my chest. I can’t explain, or even describe how special that was.

She was so small her cute little newborn footie-jammie outfit was far too big on her, and her little legs were all tucked up.

I was not at all thrilled to be at the hospital, but I had just brought this precious person into the world and it made it all worth it.


Unfortunately I had to pass her off as they got started, and all I could do was turn one ear into the bed pillow, plug the other one so I couldn’t hear them talking, hold Abe’s hand, stare into his eyes, and listen to his voice to try to take my mind of what they were doing.

I had opted for just local anesthesia, otherwise I would have had to stay the night, and I wanted to go home.


Turns out I had a 4th degree laceration…uff da. I had to have them numb me up several times because I could feel more than I wanted to feel, and finally at the end I started to loosen up and was cracking jokes. My surgeon and nurse were amazing and would joke right back which helped so much, and Megan was phenomenal…instead of leaving she stayed with me the whole time and even rubbed my foot.

She told mom and Abe all the postpartum care instruction so I didn’t have to try to remember anything, and we were all set to leave around 11:00.


We were home a little after midnight, and we were all exhausted. Overall, I really did have a crazy easy, fast birth…

Natural birth story


12 hours of labor total, 6 of which were done home alone and were a piece of cake, and only 45 minutes of pushing to bring Amiya into this world.

It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life.

I would have preferred not to tear because that brought a whole ‘nother aspect to postpartum recovery, but I’m so grateful our peanut was safe, and now I can sympathize with other’s who have had a similar experience.


Any other mama’s have a similar experience? Let me know!
And if you have your birth story written, send it to me! I love reading them.

Best Prenatal Stretches to Relieve Hip and Back Tightness

Almost there.

39 Weeks.

Over 9 months.

273 days.

This post may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase from a link I may earn a small commission at no additional cost to you.

That is how long this bump of mine has been growing. Feels kinda like an eternity, and somehow like it’s gone fast at the same time and I haven’t quite figured out how that works… (I know all my fellow pregnant ladies feel me…)

Overall, mobility wise, I’ve felt good during pregnancy. I used a barbell some, I’ve played ultimate frisbee and volleyball quite a bit even recently, I can still climb on the counter if I need to, and am probably still more flexible than my husband.

The last few weeks I’ve definitely been feeling my hips loosen though, which causes all kinds of discomfort, pain, and general miserableness. There are nights I go to roll over and it feels like I left half of my hip behind, my back is tight, and my glutes have given up on life.

#justputmeoutofmymiseryplease

while I personally love chiropractors, and highly recommend them during pregnancy, there are just times when you need some relief, and can’t wait for an appointment. If this is one of those times, give these moves a shot and hopefully you can loosen things up a bit!

{disclaimer: always consult your midwife/OBGYN before starting any exercise program while pregnant. I am not a professional, I’m just sharing what I’ve learned and am doing during pregnancy}

If foam rolling feels good for you, by all means use it on your back. personally for me, it hasn’t worked being pregnant which is why I didn’t include it, but if you can, and want to, go for it! Just use it with caution and watch out for that baby bump

I have a few different foam rollers but this one is my favorite.

You can either start with 10 reps of each move, or each one for a certain amount of time, or as much as you feel you need to loosen up…just don’t push past your mobility. you want it to feel like a good kind of stretch.

No pain does not equal no gain.

Prenatal Stretches for back and hip relief

CAT/COW

yoga for pregnancy, pregnancy stretches, stretches for back and hip tightness
yoga for pregnancy, pregnancy stretches, stretches for back and hip tightness

Tactical Frogs

Spread knees comfortably and extend your body to open the hips, pushing them forward to feel them stretch. Sink back into child’s pose, stretching the upper back.

yoga for pregnancy, pregnancy stretches, stretches for back and hip tightness
yoga for pregnancy, pregnancy stretches, stretches for back and hip tightness

Knee Windmills

Sit on the floor with hands behind you, and both knees pointing in the same direction. Keeping your heels on the floor, rotate your legs to the opposite side. This one can be a bit tricky, but feels soooo good on achy, tight hips.

yoga for pregnancy, pregnancy stretches, stretches for back and hip tightness
yoga for pregnancy, pregnancy stretches, stretches for back and hip tightness

Modified Child’s Pose

I kept my arms under me to support my belly instead of stretched out.

yoga for pregnancy, pregnancy stretches, stretches for back and hip tightness

Spiderman’s

Aka, lizard pose. If mobility is limited, do a kneeling stretch. If not, let the leg that is up fall to the outside for a different stretch.

yoga for pregnancy, pregnancy stretches, stretches for back and hip tightness
yoga for pregnancy, pregnancy stretches, stretches for back and hip tightness

Forward Fold with a Squat

This one might be a bit more challenging but feels so good. Again, just move as you’re able, don’t force it. In a standing position forwards fold to touch your shins/ toes. In a smooth motion drop your hips into a squat. Straighten the legs while still touching shins/toes, feeling the stretch in your hamstrings, then stand completely up.

yoga for pregnancy, pregnancy stretches, stretches for back and hip tightness
yoga for pregnancy, pregnancy stretches, stretches for back and hip tightness
yoga for pregnancy, pregnancy stretches, stretches for back and hip tightness
yoga for pregnancy, pregnancy stretches, stretches for back and hip tightness
yoga for pregnancy, pregnancy stretches, stretches for back and hip tightness

Arm Windmills

Begin seated as pictured, with your right knee in front first. Place your right hand next to your knee, and cross your left arm towards the right side of your body, extending it for a good stretch. Open your chest up as you bring your left arm back, reaching behind you, fingers stretching like you’re trying to reach something.

yoga for pregnancy, pregnancy stretches, stretches for back and hip tightness
yoga for pregnancy, pregnancy stretches, stretches for back and hip tightness

Tricep Stretch

yoga for pregnancy, pregnancy stretches, stretches for back and hip tightness

Seated Cat/Cow

With hands on knees, inhale and arch your back to open your chest, feeling a stretch in the low back. Round your back out, using your hands on your knees to deepen the stretch, exhaling as you go.

yoga for pregnancy, pregnancy stretches, stretches for back and hip tightness
yoga for pregnancy, pregnancy stretches, stretches for back and hip tightness

Butterfly

Sit with your knees out comfortably, and move your upper body in a circular motion, out to the side, forward over your lap, and out to the right, using your weight to deepen the stretch.

yoga for pregnancy, pregnancy stretches, stretches for back and hip tightness

And there you have it! Stretches that can be done pregnant or not, in 10 minutes! Or longer if you have time…

You may also like:

Dear Postpartum Me: A letter for the struggling postpartum mama

Postpartum Essentials + What to Expect After a Natural Birth

Lifecolor Diaper Bag Review + What’s in my Diaper Bag

Gut Health for Optimal Nutrition

If your gut is telling you something, listen to it.

Your gut is smarter than you think.

Did you know that over 70% of your body’s serotonin is produced by the gut? So if the gut ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.

More and more research is coming out about the links between gut health and your physical and mental health. Of course we know we need it to process our food and eliminate waste, but we hitherto didn’t really realize how simple things like excess mucus or inflammation in your gut’s lining can dramatically impact your well-being.

The massive population of different microbes (bacteria, viruses, fungi, etc…) that live in your gut are the often-temperamental governors of your intestines, and they make up your microbiome.

The microbiome comprises up to five pounds of your bodyweight and it plays and equally large role in your day-to-day functioning. From synthesizing vitamins and amino acids to destroying harmful microbes that enter the body, the microbiome is indispensable to your health and wellness.

Our modern diet and lifestyles can be very damaging to the microbiome, which can in turn sabotage your health goals.

So let’s dive right in to how to care for this vital population in order to optimize your health and nutrition.

Gut Health

Prebiotics

Prebiotics are non-digestible parts of food that feed your gut bacteria. Like so many microscopic pets, the microbiome needs to be fed a healthy diet in order to thrive. Foods that pass through the small intestine undigested become fermented by the time they reach the large intestine, and your microbiome loves fermented foods.

So step 1 in the process of caring for your little bacteria friends is to feed it prebiotic rich foods. Some examples of prebiotic-rich foods include:

Gut Health for Optimal Nutrition
  • Onions
  • Artichokes
  • Apples
  • Cocoa
  • Chicory root
  • Flax seeds
  • Garlic
  • Banana
  • Asparagus
  • Oatmeal
  • Barley
  • Certain types of edible seaweed
Gut Health for Optimal Nutrition

Probiotics

You know you need them. You hear all about them in health magazines and journals. But is there any rhyme or reason to which probiotics you should be consuming.

Yes there is.

  • Lactobacillus acidophilus: this is the most common probiotic you’ll find in supplement form and in fermented foods such as yogurt and kefir. This probiotic can be helpful if you have lactose intolerance since Lactobacillus produces enzymes that break down lactose (milk sugars). This bacteria also produces lactic acid, which if you’re into muscle building and bulking you probably know is a great fuel source for your muscles.
  • Saccharomyces boulardii: this probiotic has a growing amount of research the suggests this species of yeast has positive benefits for acute and chronic digestive issues like IBS, Crohn’s disease, recurrent colitis as a result of C. Diff and traveler’s diarrhea. Saccharomyces boulardii helps balance the gut when there is an overgrowth of bad bacteria.
  • Bifidobacterium: there are many strains of this bacteria but all seem to help stimulate the immune system and can also prevent constipation.

As always, consult your physician before starting any new supplements. But if you have no restrictions, choose the probiotic that best suits your needs and provides a dose of at least 1 billion CFUs (colony forming units). Most health advice you’ll find says to take 1-2 billion CFUs per day, although some studies indicate that much higher doses are required to achieve results for some strains of bacteria.

So should you be taking more than one or two capsules?

My advice is that if you are using both supplements and a healthy, probiotic-rich diet there is usually no need to spend money on higher doses of supplements.

Ok, so what foods should I be consuming to get probiotics into my diet?

Here are some lovely suggestions:

  • Yogurt (of course!). Look for Greek yogurt (unsweetened/unflavored) or “live cultured” probiotic yogurt.
  • Kefir. I’m not a huge fan of this one, but it becomes more palatable if you’re using it as a smoothie base.
  • Apple cider vinegar (use it for pickling or making salad dressings!)
  • Raw milk and cheeses. If you’re not pregnant or immune-compromised, raw milk and cheeses (which have not been pasteurized)  are an excellent source of probiotics. Again, check with your doctor to make sure unpasteurized dairy is ok for you.
  • Pickled veggies. You can pickle just about anything.
  • Wash out a mason jar, pack it tightly with pickles, sliced onions, or chopped cabbage for example, cover the veggies with a brine of vinegar (white or apple cider vinegar are fine) and water in a 1:1 ratio. Add 1-2 teaspoons of salt, peppercorns, and a tiny bit of sugar to the brine, close the jar tightly and set the jars on the counter for a few days to ferment. You can test-taste them after a couple days to see how you like them. Once they are fermented to your taste, refrigerate and enjoy. So easy! You can also add an oak leaf, grape leaves or a little black tea to the brine to get natural tannin and increase your pickle’s crunchiness.

Stress Reduction

Stress reduces blood flow to the gut in order to make sure your brain, heart and kidneys get first dibs on all blood supply.

And girlfriend, we are stressed all the freaking time!

We literally cannot escape stress some days.

This reduced blood flow limits immune responses to the gut and allows unfriendly bacteria to thrive.

So if stress-reduction is not a part of your daily routine, I recommend starting now.

Practice mindfulness, listen to a meditation (hello YouTube and free meditation apps!), breathe deeply, try yoga, exercise in a way that you love.

Sleep more without feeling guilty. Sleep better, which maybe means earlier bedtime, no electronics in bed, keep your room dark and quiet, no pets in bed, take some melatonin…

Reducing stress and deactivating the fight-or-flight mode that our modern life constantly puts us in is going to benefit you gut and so many other bodily systems!

Cut Out the Junk Food

You know it needs to be done.

Besides the fact that cutting out junk food leaves more room in your diet for whole foods full of pre- and probiotics in their natural state, we know from research that junk food can be very destructive to your microbiome.

Bleached, white flour. Refined sugars. Artificial flavors and colors. Pesticides. GMOs.

All of these things are harmful to your body.

All of them need to go.

If you can’t recognize what food you are eating just by reading the ingredients label, then skip it.

Or heck, at last try to limit it.

Start by giving yourself one junk food item per day, per week, per month…whatever it takes to reduce your intake of processed garbage, just do it!

Some research suggests that modern adaptations made to our food supply (GMOs) are damaging to the lining of our gut as well, which creates inflammation in the gut and can also allow unfriendly microbes to penetrate your gut wall. Modern wheat is under a lot of scrutiny as a possible culprit for leaky gut and other inflammatory bowel problems (for more on this, I recommend reading Wheat Belly by Dr. William Davis).

That’s four things.

Four big, huge things that might seem daunting and maybe not even that pressing since you can’t see what’s going on in your gut.

But girlfriend, I promise you that you are what you eat, and your little bacteria friends in your gut doing their very best to take care of you.

So take care of them in turn.

Gut health is linked to the health of literally everything else in your body.

If you are not caring for your microbiome, then you are not optimizing the nutrition that you work so hard to buy, prepare and consume in a healthy way.

And without nutrition, where is your health?

“Let food be your medicine and medicine be your food.” -Hippocrates