Hypnobabies, pregnancy

Hypnobabies Self-Study Course: Maintenance Check-In #1

Alright, so I’ve finished my Hypnobabies self-study course and I’ve been in “maintenance mode” for a few weeks now, so I thought I’d check in and let you know how it’s going. Currently, my schedule is that I’m supposed to listen to affirmations every day, one long hypnosis track (which rotates each day), and the shorter “Maintenance Techniques Practice.” Once again, I want to stress that this program is not “get fit in 20 minutes a day;” it’s really more like mental P90X, even in maintenance. It does require a bit of a time commitment, and I’m still finding that I need to make a conscious effort to fit in my practice. Oddly enough, I sometimes find that days when I don’t go to work are the days when I’ll struggle to fit in all my hypnosis practice because when I have all day, I’ll often put it off. When I’m going to work, I know that I need to work within a schedule, so I’ll make some time either early in the morning or at lunch to fit in one of my practice sessions so that I have less to fit in in the evenings. I still like to listen to affirmations on the metro.

But since I’ve started noticing the change in my mindset about childbirth, and I’m starting to feel these techniques integrating into my mental and physical body, I’ve also started forgiving myself for not practicing perfectly. I’ve also found that I’m more likely to fall asleep while listening to longer tracks, but that’s okay. And sometimes I’ll just put on a track and let it run while I drift off to sleep, if I haven’t made time earlier in the day. I’ve also found that I can tune into my body and my breath and put myself into hypnosis at times when I need the extra relaxation and support.

Another benefit is that, despite the fact that we’ve been slightly remiss at doing scripts, Dan and I are connecting more consciously over how we’re feeling about the pregnancy, upcoming birth, and childcare. Dan will initiate our version of the weekly partner communication exercise by checking in with me how I’m feeling, and then once in a while we’ll formally go through the questions in the exercise and see if there’s something we hadn’t discussed in a while. I feel like we’re really working together on everything, instead of me preparing for the thing that is going to affect my body, independent of him. I’m feeling better about childbirth largely because I trust that I can rely on him to help me through it.

So all in all, I’ve been mostly keeping up. I’ve had a few days where I didn’t get in all my practice, but I forgave myself and moved on. And in general, I feel like the course has helped my mindset, as well as my connection with my husband surrounding the actual birth of our child.

Previous Hypnobabies Self-Study Posts:

Week Six Recap

Week Five Recap

Week Four Recap

Week Three Recap

Week Two Recap

Week One Recap

Starting the Program

Advertisements
Food and Drink, pregnancy, Recipes

Pregnancy Cravings: Date Nut Bread

Last week, I talked about how I’m trying to eat dates every day to help potentially help with childbirth. Well, as soon as I heard that dates were good for pregnancy women, I immediately thought about one of my favorite childhood snacks: date nut bread with cream cheese and strawberries. When I was a kid, my mother used to have tea parties with me for my afternoon snack. It not only instilled in me a deep love of tea, but also helped me learn how to behave at the table in polite society. One of our favorite tea-time treats were little sandwiches of thinly sliced date nut bread, smeared with cream cheese and topped with thin slices of strawberry.

We got our date nut bread from the grocery store, where it was sold in dense, dark brown, round loaves in the bakery section. I haven’t seen it in years, though, and I knew I would want to make it from scratch anyway, so I could know how many dates were in each slice. So I went looking for a recipe and tinkered around until I came up with the recipe below. Now, the recipe I based this on calls for coffee and explains that the acidity of the coffee is important for the leavening, so I used decaf coffee. Personally, I feel like I do in fact taste the coffee, though I don’t dislike it. This recipe yields the same firm, dense, dark loaf that I remember as a child. If you let it cool completely, it will easily slice into very thin slices and hold up under the application of cream cheese. Strawberries are massively out of season right now, but I will definitely have to make this again in the summer. I divide this loaf into 8 portions, which can be further divided into two thin slices and each of which has about 1 oz. or 28g of dates in it.

Old-Fashioned Date Nut Bread

(based on this recipe)

Ingredients:

8 oz. pitted dates, finely chopped
1/2 cup of sucanat
1/2 stick of softened unsalted butter
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1 cup of hot brewed coffee
1 large egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 cup of einkorn all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sprouted spelt flour
1 cup chopped walnuts

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F and grease a 8.5″x4.5″ loaf pan and line it with parchment.
  2. Combine the first six ingredients and stir until the butter is melted. Set aside to cool for 15 minutes (this will also soften your dates).
  3. Add the egg and the vanilla to the mixture and mix well. Add in the flours and baking powder and stir to combine. Fold in the walnuts.
  4. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 45-60 minutes. Tent with foil after 30 minutes to prevent over-browning. Test for doneness by taking the internal temperature, which should be about 200F. Let cool for at least 10 minutes in the pan, and then remove and cool completely on a rack before slicing. Keeps for about a week at room temperature in an air-tight container, or freeze for longer storage. I get about 8 servings out of this.

Recipe Notes:

Dates are sticky and do not chop in the food processor. I tried for too long, but ultimately had to chop them by hand. This will take longer than it takes for the oven to preheat (longer still if you don’t get pitted dates).

The original recipe calls for 2/3-3/4 cup of brown sugar. I used sucanat, which is an unrefined sugar with a pronounced molasses flavor, and I cut the sugar back to 1/2 cup. I still find the finished bread quite sweet, so I think this should be plenty of sugar for most people, but if you really like sweets, maybe try it with 2/3 cup brown sugar.

I used einkorn and sprouted spelt flours to keep it healthier, but feel free to use all-purpose flour for the whole thing, or mix all-purpose flour and whole wheat flour.

I chopped my walnuts a bit more finely (I used the food processor for this since I’d already gotten it out to fruitlessly chop dates, pun intended) because I don’t like large chunks of walnut in my breads, and it makes it easier to slice a bit more thinly.

pregnancy, Third Trimester, Weeklies

Thirty-seven Weeks Pregnant

You guys, I’m officially considered at term. Technically, if I had this baby now, it wouldn’t be considered premature. That means I could have the baby today… or a month from now. So that’s fun. This last few-weeks-to-a-month is very “hurry up and wait.” I mean, I felt like we should probably have most things ready, just in case, but statistically, I probably have at least another few weeks to wait (probably closer to four). And my OB is in no hurry to induce me before Christmas since my pregnancy has been normal and boring so far.

This week, I had my final ultrasound, where we found out the baby has grown to be just under 7 lbs. (about 75% of the cat, for those who like that tracking measure), according to the ultrasound estimate. Baby still has a huge head, and was being too shy to get a picture of the face with the 3D ultrasound. It was a little disappointing that Dan wasn’t able to see the face live on the monitor, since he missed my 30-week ultrasound, but we got such great pictures from the 30-week scan that I didn’t feel the need to poke and prod to get more this week. Plus, I mostly just cared about the growth. I also got swabbed for Group B Strep, and had a conversation about my birth preferences with the doctor. She was completely on board with all of my preferences and said that most of them were standard practice at our hospital anyway, which was nice. It was my first time meeting that particular OB in person, though we’d talked on the phone.

This week was also Thanksgiving in the US, but we couldn’t really travel. We decided to get some Chinese takeout with my mother, who lives closer to our hospital than we do, but I had my “Thanksgiving dinner” last month when Dan’s college friends hosted a friendsgiving party around Canadian Thanksgiving. Honestly, Chinese food for Thanksgiving really hit the spot, and my mom made a dairy-free apple pie because Dan has been eliminating dairy this month.

I’ve also started building a stash of freezer meals. Our doula had a fantastic suggestion: rather than specifically setting aside time to make a bunch of freezer meals, just make a double-portion when you’re making dinner and freeze half. That way you’re taking advantage of time you would already be spending cooking, and you can slowly build up a stash, rather than stressing over doing it all at once. So I made some beef curry in the Instant Pot this week and froze half of it, and I’ll probably try to make an effort to do that at least once a week from now on. I’m also going to freeze some chocolate chip cookie dough balls.

Since I had a day off on Friday to rest, Dan suggested that we try going out on a date night on Friday, so we got a reservation at a new-ish restaurant near us that we hadn’t made it to yet: Momo Yakitori. It was fantastic. I actually can’t wait to go back when I’m not pregnant because they have some interesting alcohol offerings, too. We got a nice assortment of skewers and appetizers and just generally had a blast chatting with our server (who might have also been the owner?). Since it’s likely that I won’t feel much like going out in the next few weeks, and then our lives will get decidedly busier, it was a bit of a last hurrah.

How I’m Feeling:

As I mentioned last week, my indigestion has turned into acid reflux. Since I started taking Zantac twice a day, that has been much better, although I’ll still get a little bit of a flare, particularly right before I’m due to take another dose. Thankfully, I’ve started with the lower dose of Zantac, so if I feel like it stops working, I can try the stronger version. I will say that I’ve been sleeping much better since starting the Zantac.

Other than that, I alternate between feeling pretty good one day and pretty blah the next day. My Braxton-Hicks have started coming more often, and I just generally feel heavier every day. It’s difficult to stand up from sitting, and I’m noticing my hips getting achy more easily. Our doula lent us a Spinning Babies Daily Essentials DVD that has some good prenatal exercises on it, so I’ve been doing those once in a while and it really helps (especially since my motivation to do yoga has tanked, and the colder weather has sapped my motivation to walk when I don’t need to to get to work).

Current Cravings: date-nut bread (recipe coming later this week!) with cream cheese

Exercise: 2.1 average miles per day walking, Spinning Babies Daily Routine twice

Fruit/Vegetable Comparison: Romaine (which is hilarious)

Other Posts This Week:

Pregnancy Cravings: Cranberry-Date Oatmeal

Review: Two Kinds of Incontinence Undies (because pregnancy is beautiful)

pregnancy

Review: Two Kinds of Incontinence Undies (because pregnancy is beautiful)

NB: TMI alert this week. Talk of bodily fluids. If you are squeamish, how about a nice cup of tea?

Alright, so here’s the thing about pregnancy: your body changes in all sorts of beautiful and unexpected ways. One of those ways is that it can become somewhat more difficult to hold it when you have to pee. I’ve heard this doesn’t always get better after you give birth (or gets worse). So, tired of dealing with the “sneeze-and-swear” (where you sneeze, pee a little, and swear because you need to run to change your undies before it soaks through), and unexcited with the prospect of living in incontinence pads, I gave in and decided to try the thing that I’ve been getting constant ads for: Icon Undies.

For those of you familiar with Thinx period panties, these are made by the same company, but are specifically designed for urine leakage instead of menstrual blood. They’re also similarly priced (i.e., expensive). So, in the interest of not getting hooked on $35 panties, I figured I’d also try some lower-priced leakproof underwear from Amazon. I did contact Icon to see if they’d provide a pair for review, but they stopped responding to my emails, so I figured the answer was no. I did buy everything reviewed here with my own money, but I used some (publicly-available) discounts to get my Icon undies at a lower price. I’ll discuss the details of this later. First, I’ll describe my experiences with both products.

Innersy Leakproof Protective Cotton Hipster Panties:

First of all, I want to point out that the listing for these underwear does specify that they’re considered back-up protection and not full-on absorbent panties. It’s a little confusing because parts of the listing suggest them for period/incontinence use, but others specify that they’re not absorbent. I think the company is probably just hedging their bets. But for the $18 I paid for a 3-pack, I figured I’d risk it. They’re cotton on the outside and inside, with a inner layer of leakproof material. These were fantastic at keeping me from having to wear a pantiliner, and I didn’t have to worry as much when it was hot/humid out and I couldn’t quite tell if I’d dribbled or if I was just sweating. They kept me from soaking through. That said, the protection is light enough that I didn’t feel totally protected during those times when I sneezed or coughed and dribbled a bit more than usual. They definitely didn’t feel absorbent. I’m fortunate enough that that doesn’t happen every day, but I don’t know that I’d want to base my entire under-wardrobe on these, given that the issue is worsening as I get bigger.

The biggest problem I had with these was that after a few weeks of use, I found that they started to develop a really awful smell. Now, they’re machine washable and dryable, but I think washing them with my normal clothes wasn’t a strong enough wash for them. So I started soaking them in hot water with a little vinegar before throwing them in the wash and that seems to have gotten rid of that issue. They’re not bad, but I’m not sure I’d buy more.

Icon Undies Moderate Absorbency Bikini:

So, I really wanted to like the cheap Amazon undies as much as I liked these. Honestly, I could see how these could be that much better. Plus, I actually had a pretty bad experience with Thinx, so I wasn’t optimistic. But I actually really liked these underwear. I got one pair of the bikinis in the moderate absorbency. I was able to find a referral link on another blog that gave me $15 off my first purchase (if you’re interested in getting a similar discount, check the end of this post), and I signed up for an account, which gave me free shipping with no minimum on my first order. You can actually combine these two offers, so I was able to get my first pair of Icon for $20 with free shipping. If you go for a lower-priced pair, it would be even less money, but the bikini seemed like the perfect compromise between the fuller coverage styles that I prefer, and something that will sit comfortably below my belly right now.

The material is a synthetic technical material that dries really fast. The absorbent section is obviously thicker than the Innersy panties, but not obtrusive. I didn’t have as much issue with them smelling (but I’d also started pre-rinsing them). And they actually do absorb leaks that happen when I sneeze or cough without leaving me feeling worried. I feel totally confident that I can make it through an entire day without embarrassment in these. The only drawback is that they are supposed to be line-dried, but that’s not as much of an issue since they dry pretty quickly, and I already split my laundry up into machine-dryables and hang-dryables, so they just need to end up in the right laundry basket.

I’m really annoyed, but I definitely like the Icon undies better. I haven’t gotten around to it yet, but I am considering eventually switching over to have all my undies be Icon. I might wait and see what my bladder does postpartum, though.

In the meantime, if you want to try out Icon and are interested in using my referral link to get a $15 discount, you can access it by purchasing through this link. This will also give me a store credit if you decide to buy something. And if you sign up for an account, you’ll get free shipping. Oh, and I can’t tell who accessed the link, so don’t worry about giving yourself away!

pregnancy, Recipes

Pregnancy Cravings: Cranberry-Date Oatmeal

As I mentioned earlier this week, there is some evidence that eating dates just before childbirth can make things go more easily. This comes from studies that followed women who were either encouraged to eat a certain amount of dates in the last four weeks of pregnancy, versus those who were asked not to eat any dates. This post is a good overview of the research, but the upshot is that eating 60-80g of dates per day could be helpful.

I’ve decided to try to eat around 75g of dates per day. But, unlike my husband, I’ve never actually eaten plain dates. I find them a bit sweet, plus they look a little bit like a cockroach and an olive had a baby. So I’m consuming my date in recipes. Of course, a Larabar will give me about 20-25g of dates, but I can only eat so many Larabars before I get utterly sick of them and start to worry about the cost. I did get a few cases of them from Vitacost, though, during their recent promo, to keep on hand for snacks.

But I thought I’d share some recipes I’ve been enjoying that use dates. The first is an easy breakfast that is an absolutely delicious way to enjoy some autumn flavors, especially since fresh cranberries are readily available in the grocery store right now! I haven’t tried it with any other kind of cranberries, but it might also work with frozen.

Cranberry-Date Oatmeal

Ingredients:

1/3 cup fresh cranberries
25g pitted dates, chopped fine
1 cups water
1/2 cup rolled oats
pinch of salt, cardamom, and ginger
1 Tbsp. pumpkin seeds

  1. Combine the water, cranberries, dates, salt, and spices in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Simmer for five minutes, until the cranberries start to burst.
  2. Add the oats to the simmering water and stir. Cook, stirring constantly, until the porridge is thickened.
  3. Serve topped with pumpkin seeds.

Makes one serving

Note: Can also be made in the microwave by combining everything except the pumpkin seeds in a microwave-safe dish, microwaving until cooked, and topping with pumpkin seeds.

pregnancy, Third Trimester, Weeklies

Thirty-six Weeks Pregnant

This week’s update is a bit late because, even though most of the week was pretty good, the weekend was a bit rough. I spent the week continuing to get ready for the baby. Technically, the baby could come as early as this Saturday and not be considered premature anymore. So we have most things ready.

Now that I’m officially four weeks from my due date, I’ve been thinking a little more about immediate preparations for childbirth. I mean, I finished my Hypnobabies course a couple weeks ago and have been keeping up with my daily maintenance practice, and I talked last week about packing my hospital bag. But I’ve also decided to start eating lots of dates. I’ll talk about it more later in the week, but supposedly eating dates in the month before childbirth can make things easily. So I’ve been experimenting with some new recipes.

We also had a prenatal meeting with our doula this weekend, which was nice. We went over our birth preferences (pretty minimal, to be honest) and then she went over some materials about birth and postpartum care. It was good to connect and discuss things with her. I had noticed my anxiety about childbirth creeping up again, but it helped to discuss things with the doula.

How I’m Feeling:

Well, as I hinted at, I mostly felt pretty good. The weather meant I was a little less active than I could have been, but I got some stuff done around the house, which was nice. I did take an extra work-from-home day on Wednesday because I had a headache, but it was probably related to the weather and the snow we got on Thursday.

But then, Saturday happened. I’d been having some indigestion and heartburn for a while, and I thought the weather was aggravating my asthma because I’d had a nagging cough.

It turns out, a nagging dry cough can also be a symptom of acid reflux.

Well, Dan and I went for a walk Saturday afternoon and got a late lunch at our favorite fish place. I think the fries and spicy mayo pushed me over the edge and I spent most of the evening in agony, until I finally decided to send Dan to the store for Zantac. Tums just weren’t cutting it.

Well, not only did the Zantac take the edge off my heartburn almost immediately, but my cough cleared up! So now I’m feeling better, but it took most of the weekend to get there.

Current Cravings: chocolate cake, eggs and avocados

Exercise: 2.5 average miles/day walking, yoga once

Fruit/Vegetable Comparison: Papaya

Other posts this week:

On Packing My Hospital Bag

pregnancy

On Packing My Hospital Bag

This week, I’ve started actively packing my hospital bag (as opposed to just planning what I think I want to pack). At this point, I have most non-food items packed, although I’m quickly realizing that I probably need a separate bag to include some baby stuff. It’s been interesting because I tend to be pretty minimalist when I pack to travel, but it seems like a hospital stay for labor and maternity requires different things. For one thing, I needed to get a portable speaker to connect to my phone to play Hypnobabies tracks (I don’t usually think about “playing music” because I don’t listen to music much outside of the car), and I need stuff for after the baby comes out. But I probably don’t need much in the way of clothing.

It’s mostly difficult because it’s really easy to find lists of “things you’ll need in your hospital bag” as well as lists of “all the things I thought I needed but didn’t.” But it seems like the upshot of the latter type of list can be really personal. Like, one person insists you don’t need to bring clothes, where another insists you do because hospital gowns are uncomfortable. Now, I haven’t tried the gowns at my specific hospital, but I’ve never had a problem with hospital gowns in general, and because I generally have the modesty of, well, a community theater actor who has to change costumes in spaces without private dressing areas, I figure I’ll be fine in a gown most of the time.

So I figured I’d make a note of what I’m packing, and then maybe when I get home (and have time), I’ll make a note of what I used or what I particularly appreciated. In particular, anyone who reads my main blog or follows me on Instagram knows that I usually have a pretty involved skin care routine, so I’ve been putting a lot of thought into how to bring enough that I don’t feel like I’m neglecting myself, while being realistic about just how much energy I’ll have to do skin care while in the hospital.

So here’s what I’m bringing, so far:

Skin/hair/body care: I’ve divided my toiletries into face products, hair products, and other products and put them in separate, labeled bags (I used pink pouches from Glossier because I have so many of them because their cleanser is the only one my skin likes). For face care, I’m bringing micellar water and cotton, some pre-soaked hydrating toner pads, and a tube of Cerave Baby cream (this will also double as a hand/body cream). I’m also bringing a tube of sunscreen, for when I go home. For hair care, I’m bringing a sample of shampoo and conditioner I got from a Sephora order, along with a seamless comb, some scrunchies, a couple hair elastics, and a couple wide, soft headbands. My plan is to keep my hair braided as much as possible to avoid tangles. For body/other, I’m bringing deodorant, a toothbrush, toothpaste, lanolin (this doubles as a lip balm), and disposable nursing pads.

Clothing: I’m planning on mostly wearing hospital gowns, but I am bringing a couple draped-front cardigans and a robe in case I want an extra layer, plus a nursing bra in case for some reason I feel like I need to wear a bra. I’m also bringing a bunch of fuzzy, non-slip socks. Not really clothes, but I’m also bringing a fleece blanket and a camping towel, just in case because they roll up small. The only “outfit” I’m bringing is something to wear to go home in case my check-in clothes get ruined by, um, fluids. Going-home outfit is a pair of fleece leggings, undies, socks, a nursing tank top, and one of my favorite tunic sweatshirts that I mentioned in my last maternity wear post. I’m also bringing a babywearing wrap.

Baby stuff: From what I’ve heard, most of the things you’ll need are provided, other than stuff for the baby to wear home. So I’m mostly just bringing a couple sizes and styles of clothing from the box of hand-me-downs I got from friends so I can pick out an appropriate going-home outfit for the baby. I think I have some onesies, some footed PJs, and some pants, plus I’ll probably bring a hat and socks. Since I plan on breastfeeding, my husband is putting my nursing pillow in his car, but I’m also bringing a sample-sized can of formula and some bottles, just in case things aren’t working out. And of course I’ll bring the pediatrician’s contact info, just in case.

Comfort stuff: I’m bringing a few little things to remind me of the space I used to train with my hypnosis tracks, like a salt candle holder and some flameless LED candles, plus I’m bringing the aforementioned speaker. I got a Tribit bluetooth speaker from Amazon for about $30 and I have to say, I’m pretty impressed with it. And it has like 20 hours of battery life. I’m also bringing an extra-long iPhone charging cable, and a 32-oz. water bottle. As far as snacks go, I’m bringing lots of Larabars, some boxed miso soup, some juiceboxes, and tea. I’ve decided to bring Pique tea crystals instead of tea bags because they’re easier to deal with if my husband is making me tea. Plus, they’re slim enough that I can bring 4-5 packets of crystals in the same amount of space as one of my favorite tea bags, so I can have a better variety. I’m also bringing my own mug so that I don’t always have to drink out of paper cups.

Other: In addition to stuff to keep me happy, I’m also bringing some potentially necessary documents, such as the information for my work’s short-term disability insurance, and copies of my birth plan. I’m also including an “inventory list” of what’s in the bag so that my husband can get stuff for me without bugging me about it. I’m sure I’ll think of some other things to throw in, so I’ll mention that if it happens when I give my post-birth update.

So far, most of this fits in the small duffel bag that I used to use as a gym bag, though I’ll probably pack a separate small bag for baby-specific stuff and snacks. Husband will have his own bag (he needs more in the way of clothing, since he doesn’t get a gown). But at this point, I feel mostly-ready for going to the hospital, which is good because theoretically it could happen in a week or it could be another month or so!