Walking During Pregnancy

Walking During Pregnancy

One of the best exercises you can do while pregnant is to walk! It's the perfect weight bearing exercise for pregnant women because you don't need any special equipment, memberships or training. Many women think they have to go to a gym, or do more intense cardio sessions to get a good workout, but even walking has a lot of benefits for you and your baby. 

Walking is great if you don't

-have time for the gym or have a gym membership

-have a lot of energy to do more cardio or don't like high intensity cardio

-feel like lifting weights or don't like to lift

-have anyone to watch the kiddos - take them with!

Don't fret, because walking is very beneficial for you on it's own. Incorporating a long walk or a few short walks into your day can:

-increase energy - we could all use more of this when we're pregnant, I know I was drained the first trimester!

-decrease vericose veins - these can be very painful, but walking will help increase your circulation which stops the blood from pooling in your legs. 

-decrease cravings

-maintain a healthy weight gain - this is one of the top stressors I hear from women, they don't want to gain too much weight. 

-decrease stress - exercise is a natural stress reliever!

-help you sleep 

-keep your heart and lungs strong

-help maintain strong muscles in your legs

Walking for 30 minutes everyday should be a target goal, but if you don't have time to do it all at once, feel free to break it into 3 - 10 minute walks.

For a little extra workout, take your kid(s) along, push a stroller, walk up hill, or increase your speed.

Walking will be more beneficial for your pregnancy than not doing anything at all!

Healthy Living vs. Flat Abs

Healthy Living vs. Flat Abs

Lately I've seen a lot of sponsored Facebook ads tailored to postpartum women for "Lose Weight Fast", and "Flat Abs in 30 Days", and "Lose the Baby Weight". This makes me incredibly discouraged that so many trainers are focusing on just weight loss postpartum. There's so much more to being healthy than just losing the baby weight and getting flat abs. 

Sure weight loss may be one of your goals postpartum, but it doesn't have to be the only goal, and it shouldn't be the most important one. 

During pregnancy, your body undergoes incredible changes that can leave certain muscles and organs not functioning optimally. This can cause pain in your lower back and pelvis, pain during intercourse, pelvic organ prolapse, diastasis recti, and can cause urinary incontinence which includes any loss of urine (even a small amount) with coughing, sneezing, squatting, lifting, intercourse, or when you have a feeling of urgency. In my opinion, getting these muscles and organs functioning back at their optimal level is much more important than losing the baby weight and getting flat abs. 

I care about you. I care about getting your body to work properly and making sure your muscles can support you in your daily activities. It's about getting strong, feeling good, and having energy to take care of yourself and your baby.

Why I don't Count Macros

Why I don't Count Macros

The thought of counting calories and grams of fat, protein and carbs everyday is daunting. Even if I didn't have a super outgoing 2.5 year old and a 14 week old baby, I wouldn't take the time to count these everyday. I know it has it's purpose, (like for people who are working towards maintaining a certain physique - body builders), but I've found this can actually create a lot more stress, anxiety, tension, and negative feelings towards food.  

Since I don't practice this, I surely don't teach my clients to practice this. Women who used to count calories/grams before working with me have said it's like a weight being lifted from their shoulders since they've stopped eating/living this way. It was actually causing them more stress, which would cause some women to binge on their favorite "bad" foods. Sure they'd write it down and "count" it, but then seeing the total calories at the end of the day caused guilt - it was a vicious cycle that needed to be broken. I believe there is a much easier and healthier way to eat and to make sure you are getting the nutrients you need.  

A great place to start is to eat from most food groups and eat a wide variety of foods within the food groups. I love this quote from Michael Pollan, "Eat food, not too much, mostly plants." Eat food means eating fruits, veggies, nuts, seeds, berries, and whole grains. It's real food, not processed in a factory. It means not eating something that comes from a box or comes from fast food restaurants. Not too much refers to portion sizes. Tuning in and listening to your body will help you know how much is right for you. Mostly plants refers to what you're eating; having a plant based diet is extremely high in (most of) the nutrients we need which will help keep us healthy.

Eating whole foods, real food, is going to serve you much better than counting every single gram of fat you eat. Don't let counting numbers everyday cause you to have negative feelings towards food. Food should be nourishing, fuel to our bodies, and pleasurable. 

I'm Still a Little Squishy

I'm Still a Little Squishy

I'm 13 weeks postpartum, and I'm still a little squishy. I have the 'mommy tummy', and you know what? I'm totally okay with that. As we all know, our bodies go through an amazing transformation during those nine months, so I am 100% okay with my body as it is right now. 

Those few extra pounds, the mommy tummy, the little pooch - whatever you want to call it, embrace it. Our bodies housed and protected, nourished and loved that little baby for nine months, now we need to show our body some love back. 

It's totally unrealistic to get your pre-baby body back so quickly after you give birth, (some women do - is it breastfeeding? Genetics? They're a celebrity and have a personal trainer and chef?) The more realistic approach is that it took nine months to gain the weight, give yourself at least nine months to lose it as well. 

Although breastfeeding does burn calories, it can cause you to hang onto those "last few pounds" just due to hormones. Women who breastfeed have decreased estrogen and testosterone levels, which are both fat burning hormones, and an increase in prolactin, which is linked to fat storage. 

So whether you're breastfeeding or not breastfeeding, you have 5 pounds or 25 pounds to lose, embrace it. Your babies are only little once, spend more time holding them and less time stressing about your weight. Spend more time gazing into their eyes and less time beating yourself up over your 'mommy tummy'. Sure I'd like to get back to my pre baby weight, but right now that is way down on the list of priorities. My body is doing amazing work feeding and nourishing my little girl multiple times a day, so I'm going to choose to not let a little extra fat get me down.

How a Doula Can Benefit You and Your Baby

How a Doula Can Benefit You and Your Baby

Maybe you’ve seen the funny yet ridiculous Duracell commercial mentioning a doula-recommended, dolphin-assisted water birth.  Maybe you’ve seen the Ricki Lake documentary The Business of Being Born.  Or maybe you’ve never heard the word doula ever before.  My mission today is to explain the how and why of doulas- basically how a doula can help you during pregnancy and birth, and why so many women swear by them.

Pregnancy and birth is often uncharted territory for expectant parents, and can be a time of excitement, but also of uncertainty.  A doula is somewhat of a professional pregnancy and birth guide, providing reliable information and continuous support before, during and after your birth. 

When expectant parents hire their doula varies widely.  Some start reaching out to potential doulas as soon as they find out they are expecting, and others wait well into their third trimester.  I personally recommend finding a doula early on, so that you can begin benefitting from their services immediately.  Most doulas provide prenatal appointments to discuss birth options and preferences, as well as phone/text/email support for all those random questions that pop up during pregnancy.

The support of a doula during a birth can also vary greatly, as each birthing mother is unique and doulas each have their own style; however, some defining aspects of doula support are that it is skilled, continuous support.  A doula draws from her training, knowledge and experience to provide positioning ideas, comfort techniques, encouragement and reassurance for you, your partner and family.  She joins you as soon as you feel you’d like her support, and doesn’t leave until your baby is in your arms.  

Not only does doula support help to improve the birth experience, but there is compelling evidence suggesting that women who use doulas to support their birth are statistically more likely to achieve better outcomes as well.  Per a 2017 Cochrane review published by Bohren et al., doula supported women experienced a significant decrease in the use of pain medications, Pitocin, risk of C-section, risk of newborn being admitted to a special care nursery, and dissatisfaction with their birth experience.  

That’s not to say that women who choose to use pain medication or need Pitocin or a C-section can’t benefit from a doula.  Doulas support all types of birth, will support you in your choices, and can offer ideas to enhance your experience no matter how it unfolds.

Many doulas include some postpartum support as part of their package as well.  Some, like myself, are also lactation counselors, and can provide assistance with breastfeeding, both immediately postpartum and in the early weeks and months following.  Some doulas specialize in postpartum support and infant care, and even offer overnight support in the home.

I think one of the dads I worked with summed up my role pretty well, and it is still one of my favorite compliments:  “Angie was a mix between a comforting friend and an expert (but not one of those annoying in your face know-it-alls)!"

If you think a doula could be beneficial for you, I highly recommend you reach out to a few!  Most offer free consultations, and would be happy to answer all of your questions.  For full descriptions of my services, more testimonials and contact info for me, please visit my website:  www.aligndoula.com.

Written by Angie Traska of Align Doula Services in Madison, providing intuitive, attentive doula support that aligns with you. 

Photo credit to Nicole Krueger Photography

Ditch the Scale

Ditch the Scale

I didn't own a scale. I don't like scales. I don't like that so many people focus solely on the number on the scale to dictate their health, instead of other very important factors such as how you feel, how much energy you have, how your body functions, etc. 

My husband came home from work recently and said, "I bought us something!" "Oh?" When he told me he purchased a scale, my heart actually sank a little. There's a reason I didn't have a scale before, and I didn't want to start focusing on those tiny little numbers now. 

I had a baby 12 weeks prior, so I was interested to see if I lost all the baby weight or how much I had to go. I did end up stepping on the scale, as my curiosity got the best of me. Seeing those numbers initially made me a little sad! "I have 12 pounds to go? But I don't feel like I look that way. Do I really look like I have 12 pounds to lose yet?"

And this my friends, is the black hole that that we can get sucked into when you focus just on those numbers. 

I have been working out - hard. I got back to my intense HIIT training and lifting weights. I even  increased the weights I was using prior to pregnancy.  So, was this number on the scale fat? Baby weight? Muscle? Muscle weighs more per area than fat does, so maybe I was getting heavier as I gained muscle, but actually getting smaller & leaner. 

I don't care about what I weigh (to an extent, I don't want to weigh 300 pounds...), what I do care about is how I feel, that I have a lot of energy, that I can fit into my clothes, that my body functions well and I'm able to do the things I love. 

So I will continue to do the workouts I love because I can, because my body allows me to. I will continue to eat healthy and nourish my body with foods that make me feel good and give me energy. The scale sits high up on a shelf, and I have no plan to get it down and see those numbers any time soon. 

I urge you to do the same. It's not all about the numbers on the scale, but dig deeper and see how you feel. That is a very good indicator of health.

Preassembled Salad in a Jar

Preassembled Salad in a Jar

Want a super healthy and quick meal? You can add the salad in a jar into your meal prep rotation and have healthy salads all week!

Chopped Asian Salad Recipe

Serves 2


Creamy peanut and ginger dressing:
1 tablespoons sesame oil
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce or tamari
1 tablespoons natural peanut butter or almond butter
1/2 teaspoon honey (or a vegan sweetener)
1/2 tablespoon fresh grated ginger

Salad fixings: 
1/3 cup cucumber, cut into small pieces
1/4 cup edamame
1/2 yellow bell pepper, chopped
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
1/4 cup grated carrot
1/4 cup grated red cabbage
1/4 cup cooked quinoa


  1. In a blender, combine the sesame oil, lime juice, soy sauce, nut butter, sweetener and grated ginger. Blend until smooth.
  2. Pour the dressing into the bottom of a wide-mouthed mason jar. Add the cucumber, edamame, yellow pepper, carrot, red pepper, red cabbage and quinoa.
  3. Tightly seal with the lid and store the jar in the fridge. The salad can last up to two days in the fridge.
  4. When ready to eat, simply shake the ingredients out of the jar into a bowl. The salad may require a quick toss to mix the dressing and ingredients together.

Instant Oatmeal Jars

Instant Oatmeal Jars

Mornings can be so busy, but you can still make sure you're getting a healthy breakfast by prepping these instant oatmeal jars! The flavor combinations are endless, and kids enjoy putting together their own jars for the week. 

Use all freeze dried fruit (no sugar added). It’s crunchy and sweet, and it's shelf stable which makes it super convenient!

Flavor combo ideas:

  • Apples & Cinnamon: 1/4 cup freeze dried apples, 1/4 tsp cinnamon, pinch of granulated stevia, or granulated sweetener of choice
  • Raspberries & dark chocolate or cacao nibs: 1/4 cup freeze dried raspberries & 2 Tbsp dark chocolate chips or nibs
  • Monkey mix: 1/4 cup freeze dried banana chips, 1 Tbsp coconut flakes, 1 Tbsp dark chocolate chips or nibs
  • Triple berry: 1/4 cup freeze dried berry mix & a pinch of granulated stevia, or granulated sweetener of choice
  • Blueberries & cream: 1/4 cup freeze dried blueberries, a pinch of powdered vanilla (huge health benefits in powdered compared to liquid extract), & a pinch of granulated stevia or granulated sweetener of choice
  • Peaches & cream: 1/4 cup freeze dried peaches, pinch of powdered vanilla (huge health benefits in powdered compared to liquid extract), & a pinch of granulated stevia, or granulated sweetener of choice
  • Strawberry & banana: 2 Tbsp freeze dried strawberries, 2 Tbsp freeze dried banana & a pinch of granulated stevia, or granulated sweetener of choice
  • Try adding your favorite chopped nuts, or a 1/2 scoop of protein powder to any of these varieties


Prep ahead:

Use pint glass canning jars to ensure that you will have room for your liquid & stirring. Note: this method will NOT work with steel-cut oats.

  • Add 1/2 cup dry rolled/old fashioned oats to the bottom of the glass jar
  • Add your favorite flavor combos
  • Seal tightly, and store in the pantry until ready to use
  • For freshest flavor use within 10 days

Healthy Morning Glory Muffins

Healthy Morning Glory Muffins

These healthy muffins are kid approved! It's a great way to sneak in fruits, veggies and nuts! 


  • 2 cup – flour, whole wheat

  • 2 teaspoon – baking soda

  • 2 teaspoon – cinnamon

  • 1/2 teaspoon – ginger, ground

  • 1/4 teaspoon – salt

  • 2 cup grated – carrot

  • 1 cup, grated – apple

  • 1/2 cup – coconut flakes

  • 1/2 cup – walnuts, chopped

  • 1/3 cup – sunflower seeds

  • 3 large – eggs

  • 2 teaspoon – vanilla extract

  • 1/4 cup – orange juice

  • 1/2 cup – honey

  • 1/2 cup – coconut oil

  • 1/2 cup – raisins, seedless


  1. Preheat oven to 375.

  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine all dry ingredients.

  3. Stir in carrots, apple, coconut, walnuts, and seeds, until they are coated with the flour mixture.

  4. Beat together eggs, vanilla, OJ, honey, and coconut oil (make sure coconut oil is a liquid. If not, warm just to melt.)

  5. Pour the wet ingredients into the large mixing bowl full of the dry ingredients and add-ins.

  6. Fold in the raisins.

  7. Portion the batter into a muffin pan. Fill each cup right to the top with batter. 

  8. Bake for 20 minutes, until the tops are firm to the touch.

  9. Refrigerate up to a week, or freeze up to three months.

The 4 R's for Postpartum Fitness

The 4 R's for Postpartum Fitness

When it comes to your fitness after giving birth, there are 4 R's to keep in mind that will help you return to the workouts that you love and want to do. 

1. Rest - This is essential to everyone after giving birth whether you had a vaginal birth or C-section. The rest period will vary depending on your personal circumstances, but the recommended time to hold off exercising is 6 weeks for a vaginal delivery, and at least 6-8 weeks for a C-section or vaginal delivery with a tear or episiotomy. This doesn't mean no movement at all, it's important to be on your feet and walk if you can, but make sure you're taking the time to relax and kick up your feet. Your body underwent a lot of stress and changes during pregnancy, so it's important to take the time you need for your body to heal. 

2. Recovery - Your body just grew another human in the last 9 months, all the organs in your body shifted around a bit, things stretched out, and you endured childbirth. The recovery period is so important to help you recover physically and mentally. Take the time you need. Move slower. Put your feet up. Have friends or family help with the household chores. Your body needs the down time to recover properly. 

3. Rehab - Here are some things that let us know the core and pelvic floor could benefit from some rehab:

• Pregnancy

• Vaginal birth

• You had a C-section 

• You want to improve your alignment and posture

• You have low back, SI joint, mid back, upper back or neck stiffness or pain

• You experience urinary incontinence

• You have pelvic organ prolapse

• You feel tension in your pelvic floor

• You experience pain or discomfort during, and/or after intercourse

• You have diastasis recti 

4. Retrain - This is the stage where you will redevelop your strength and fitness. Jumping back into hard core workouts too fast will undo the progress you have made. You don't want to exercise too soon after birth and risk re-tearing anywhere. Taking a slow but steady approach will help you gain progress and reach your postpartum fitness goals faster.


Kegel Exercises for Pregnancy and Postpartum

Kegel Exercises for Pregnancy and Postpartum

Your pelvic floor (PF) is composed of muscles that support your bladder, uterus and colon. The urine tube (front passage), the vagina and the back passage all pass through the PF muscles as well. Your PF muscles help you to control your bladder and bowel, so weak PF muscles can lead to incontinence. 

Many women experience this during pregnancy, but urinary incontinence can be common postpartum as well due to childbirth weakening the PF muscles. This is a common problem for women when they are exercising, laugh, cough or sneeze. Strengthening your PF muscles before, during and after pregnancy can dramatically reduce urinary incontinence. 

Kegel exercises can be used to help control urinary incontinence. These exercises help tighten and strengthen the PF muscles; strengthening the PF muscles can improve the function of the urethra and rectal sphincter.

If you don't know what your Kegel muscles are, you can sit on the toilet and begin urinating, then stop urinating mid-stream. The muscles that you use to stop the flow of urine are the Kegel muscles. 

To perform Kegel exercises, you should:

  • Keep your abdominal, thigh, and butt muscles relaxed
  • Tighten the PF muscles
  • Hold the muscles until you count to 5, work up to 10 seconds
  • Relax the PF muscles until you count to 5, work up to 10 seconds

Do 10 Kegel exercises in the morning, afternoon, and at night. They can be done anytime, while driving, standing or sitting at your desk. Work up to 50 times per day. Women who do Kegel exercises tend to see results in four to six weeks.

Stretches for Back Pain

Stretches for Back Pain

Are you pregnant and experiencing lower back pain? Or maybe your postpartum with back pain. You may be experiencing back pain due to:

-Carrying more weight than normal due to pregnancy

-Sitting at a desk all day and not moving as much as you should

-Your core is not functioning as it should

Try these exercises to help ease the pain--

*Child's pose: Begin by kneeling on the floor. Bring your knees together and your butt to your feet. Exhale and slowly rest your torso over your thighs so that your forehead touches the mat. Extend your arms straight forward.

This pose is so relaxing to me, it really helps me unwind and it's also a great meditation pose. 

*Cat / cow: Start on your hands and knees with your wrists directly under your shoulders, and your knees directly under your hips. Point your fingertips to the top of your mat. Place your shins and knees hip-width apart. Center your head in a neutral position and soften your gaze downward.

Begin by moving into cow pose: Inhale as you drop your belly towards the mat. Lift your chin and chest, and gaze up toward the ceiling. Draw your shoulders away from your ears.

Next, move into cat pose: As you exhale, draw your belly towards your spine and round your back toward the ceiling. Inhale, and come back into cow pose, and then exhale as you return to cat pose. Repeat 20 times. 

*Squat to stand: Stand with your feet hip width apart. Squat down until your butt is parallel to the floor, and sit your butt back like you're sitting in a chair. Don't let your knees go further out than your toes. Stand, repeat 10 times. 

*Deep squat: Hold a stable chair or couch throughout this exercise. Squat down and put your butt way back like you're sitting in a chair. Squat down as far as you can. Repeat 10 times. 

These stretches /exercises can be done daily. 

Our Guide to Essential Oil Healing and Safety for Pregnant Moms

Our Guide to Essential Oil Healing and Safety for Pregnant Moms

Our Guide to Essential Oil Healing and Safety for Pregnant Moms

--Guest post by Apple Wellness

With the rapidly growing popularity of essential oils and aromatherapy, many expecting moms are questioning whether or not essential oils are safe to use during their pregnancy. The short answer?

Well, there isn’t one. Some essential oils are safe to use, while others are assuredly not safe. And, there are also additional precautions on how to use those that ARE safe correctly.

Ready for a deep dive into a wealth of knowledge on the topic?


Safety First: Essential Oil Caution

While essential oils can be safe and very helpful, you should also approach even those that are safe during pregnancy with caution. Here are some tips on how to stay safe.

  1. Ingestion of essential oils should absolutely be avoided during pregnancy and while nursing. The ingestion of essential oils is a hot topic at all times, but even most of those who believe ingestion is healthful and safe in general agree that it’s best avoided during pregnancy.

  2. Essential oils are best avoided during your first trimester. This is especially true for those mothers that are at high risk for miscarriage. This time in your baby’s development is critical, and simply too little research has been done on this to take the risk.

  3. Always dilute your essential oils. Less is more when it comes to expecting mamas! Always dilute essential oils with a carrier oil, such a hemp, almond, jojoba, coconut, or grapefruit seed oil before use. We recommend a 1-2% dilution (6-12 drops of essential oil per 1 oz. of carrier oil). Be careful when pouring — some essential oils come out quickly!

  4. Repeated daily use is not advisable. You are extra sensitive to everything during pregnancy (I’m sure we don’t need to tell you that!), and it is possible to develop sensitivities to essential oils. To prevent this from happening, regularly switch up the oils that you use. Try to not exceed a week of daily use, or 3-4 days of intense use, without switching to a new oil.

  5. Do not add essential oils to the birthing pool. Some mothers and coaches do this, but because essential oils do not mix with water, they sit on the surface. This can be dangerous to the newborn, causing possible burns, irritation, or other problems from accidental ingestion. Keep essential oils out of the water and in a diffuser instead.


A Comment on Quality

Finding high-quality, pure essential oils is of the utmost importance even for day-to-day use, but this is especially vital during pregnancy. Your skin absorbs that which comes into contact with it, so when you apply an essential oil (even if diluted), it will be absorbed into your body. This is both the healing power and the danger of an essential oil.

With a chemical-laden essential oil, this can be disastrous. At the moment, there are no regulations over transparent labeling for essential oil, which means that manufacturers can distill the oils with any chemicals they choose and throw in additives to boot — and no labeling of this is necessary.

Because of this, we strongly recommend that you go to a trusted local health and wellness store in your area to find pure, organic oils to use. Alternatively, do some deep research to find trustworthy brands to buy from online. Some examples of good brands include Amrita, Mountain Rose, Rocky Mountain Essential Oils, and Plant Therapy.

Completely avoid absolutes and other solvent extracted ‘essential oils’. Absolutes are created using a solvent, such as hexane or butane, to retain the fragrance. Traces of these chemicals will be found in the in the remaining product, and are definitely not worth the risk.


Essential Oils to Aid in Specific Pregnancy Difficulties:

Some essential oils have particular healing properties for pregnant women. Here are some helpful oils to resolve common pregnancy ailments.

  • Morning sickness: Ginger, peppermint, spearmint. Use peppermint sparingly - it may be too strong for some mama’s noses and shouldn’t be used during the third trimester or while breastfeeding. Diffuse the oils in a personal inhaler or a diffuser.

  • Dry Skin and Stretch Marks: Roman Chamomile, German Chamomile, Sweet Orange. Use topically or through diffusion.

  • Nerve and Back Pain: Black Pepper, Sweet Marjoram, Roman Chamomile, German Chamomile, Cypress, Lavender. Best used topically or added with the carrier oil into a warm bath.

  • Swelling: Lavender, German Chamomile, Roman Chamomile, Cypress. Use topically, and only a couple of drops into the carrier oil. Massage gently into the swollen area.

  • Stress and Anxiety: Lavender, German Chamomile, Roman Chamomile, Geranium, Ylang-Ylang, Petitgrain, Neroli. Diffuse or use topically on wrists or other touch points.

  • Insomnia: Lavender, German Chamomile, Roman Chamomile. Sweet Orange, Sweet Marjoram, Lime, Bergamot, Neroli, Lemon, and Ylang-Ylang may also be helpful. Use in a diffuser or put into a spray bottle (dilute first) to spray over your pillowcase.

  • Fatigue: Lime, Grapefruit, Sweet Orange. Diffuse or use topically.


A List of Safe Essential Oils

Please remember to test your essential oils on a small area of skin, such as your inner arm to ensure that you have no sensitivities or reactions. Pregnancy can mess with you, so something you may not have been sensitive to before becoming pregnant may now bother you. It’s always better to be safe than sorry!

  • Bergamot (Citrus bergamia) – Diffusion and topical, but do not use topically before going out in the sun.

  • Black Pepper (Piper nigrum) - Topical, diffusion.

  • Chamomile, German/Roman (Chamaemelum nobile, Matricaria recutita) – Topical, diffusion.

  • Copaiba (Copaifera langsdorfii, Copaifera officinalis) Topical, diffusion.

  • Coriander (Coriandrum sativum) Topical, diffusion.

  • Cypress (Cupressus sempervirens) Topical, diffusion.

  • Fir Needle (Abies alba, Abies sachalinensis, Abies sibirica) Topical, diffusion.

  • Frankincense (Boswellia carteri, Boswellia frereana, Boswellia neglecta, Boswellia rivae, Boswellia sacra, Boswellia serrata) Topical, diffusion.

  • Geranium (Pelargonium graveolens) Topical, diffusion.

  • Ginger (Zingiber officinale) Topical, diffusion.

  • Grapefruit (Citrus x paradisi) – Diffusion and topical, but do not use topically before going out in the sun.

  • Juniper berry (Juniperus communis) Topical, diffusion.

  • Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) Topical, diffusion.

  • Lavender, Spike (Lavandula latifolia) Topical, diffusion.

  • Lemon (Citrus x limon) – Diffusion and topical, but do not use topically before going out in the sun.

  • Lime (Citrus x aurantifolia) – Diffusion and topical, but do not use topically before going out in the sun.

  • Marjoram, Sweet (Marjorana hortensis) — Topical, diffusion.

  • Mandarin (Citrus reticulata) — Topical, diffusion.

  • Neroli (Citrus x aurantium) — Topical, diffusion.

  • Orange, Sweet (Citrus sinensis) — Topical, diffusion.

  • Patchouli (Pogostemon cablin) — Topical, diffusion.

  • Petitgrain (Citrus aurantium) — Topical, diffusion.

  • Peppermint (Mentha piperita) — Use sparingly, and avoid during third trimester or while breastfeeding. Topical (higher dilution rate), diffusion.

  • Pine, Scots  (Pinus sylvestris) — Topical, diffusion.

  • Rose, Otto (Rosa damascena) — Safe for use during the third trimester only.

  • Rosewood (Aniba rosaeodora) — Topical, diffusion.

  • Sandalwood (Santalum spicatum) — Topical, diffusion.

  • Spruce, Norway (Picea abies) — Topical, diffusion.

  • Tangerine (Citrus reticulata) — Topical, diffusion.

  • Tea Tree (Melaleuca alternifolia) — Topical, diffusion.

  • Ylang Ylang (Cananga odorata) – Strong scent may be unpleasant or overwhelming — use sparingly.

We strongly recommend that new mothers (and mothers new to essential oil use) consult with an experienced aromatherapist, birthing guide, or natural healthcare provider before using essential oils during pregnancy. This is especially true for those mothers who are at risk of miscarriage.

For most of us, essential oils are a wonderful, natural way of easing and smoothing the progress of pregnancy, helping you be a healthier, happier mum to a healthy, happy baby.

Questions? Feel free to contact Andrea Short with your questions! Our Apple Wellness team loves Andrea’s work, and would encourage moms-to-be to consider her coaching services.



Essential Oil Safety 2nd edition (Tisserand & Young, 2014)

Clinical Aromatherapy – Essential Oils in Healthcare  3rd edition (Buckle, PhD, RN, 2015)

Essential Oils, Carrier Oils, & Pregnancy: A Guide for the 1st, 2nd, & 3rd Trimesters - Judy Godec

The Complete Guide to Aromatherapy 2nd edition (Battaglia, 2003)

Aromatherapy: A Complete Guide to the Healing Art 2nd edition (Keville & Green, 2009)

NAHA (National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy) Pregnancy Guide

Essential Oil Safety During Pregnancy – LearningAboutEOs.com (Leah Harris)

Links you used:








Whole Food Nutrition

Whole Food Nutrition

Have you heard of starving cancer cells with good nutrition?

Strengthening your immune system to help prevent cancer?

Eating 7-13 servings of fruits and vegetables for good heart health?

Strengthening your immune system to help fight autoimmune disease?

How to decrease inflammation In your body?

Eating 7-13 servings of fruits and vegetables to help prevent strokes?

Strengthening your immune system to help keep away sickness, common cold?

A healthy inside shows on the outside--clear skin, more energy, great hair, strong nails, healthy weight.... List goes on!!!

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Effects of Maternal Nutrition on Baby

Effects of Maternal Nutrition on Baby

I received a question regarding maternal nutrition and the effects it has on your baby--

Of course every pregnancy is going to be different, and women have so many different outcomes based on their nutrition during pregnancy. It's not just the health on the outside that should be looked at, ("He was fine"), but how that affects him in the long run. Maternal nutrition during pregnancy can exert long-lasting effects on the health of the offspring. So just because he's "fine" now, does not mean he won't experience gestational diabetes at an earlier age, for example.

Nutritional deficiencies (or a bad diet) during pregnancy can lead to preterm labor, and also have affects on your baby that maybe someone wouldn't associate with their nutrition. For example, cleft palate, anemia, growth retardation, asthma, ADHD, behavioral problems, learning delays.

Other studies have reported that the ‘healthy’ or ‘health-conscious’ pattern in pregnant women is positively associated with higher educational levels, fewer financial difficulties, older age and less smoking. The ‘fast food’ lifestyle shows a positive association with smoking, which has its own set of health effects.

It is thought that there are critical periods during pregnancy and infancy where nutritional programming occurs. This seems to be especially true for some chronic diseases such as heart disease and diabetes. An example of nutritional programming is the development of the baby's brain. It is crucial to take in enough omega 3 fatty acids during this period especially, to aid in the correct development of the brain.

So while all the focus is typically on the health of the baby right away, you can't discount what is does to the child/individual for their future health. "There appears to be strong evidence that a balanced diet and a healthy weight during pregnancy programs many aspects of good health in infancy and beyond."

Pregnancy: A Roller Coaster of Emotions

Pregnancy: A Roller Coaster of Emotions

I know how emotional pregnancy can be. One minute you’re ecstatic to be carrying a little baby inside of you, and the next you’re crying uncontrollably wondering how you’re actually going to care for this tiny human.

There are a few reasons why we become so emotional during pregnancy, the top three reasons being fatigue, stress, and hormonal changes.

Growing a baby is really hard work, and your body is working overtime to make sure you develop a healthy baby. Because of this, you may feel just exhausted and want to sleep all the time. Making sure you get at least eight hours of sleep per night is necessary for your body, but it also helps control your mood.

With our bladder waking us up, the baby kicking, muscle cramps, and just not being able to find a comfortable position, sleeping for eight continuous hours may be a thing of the past. Since the sleep can be so interrupted, you may have to be in bed for at least 10 hours to get an adequate amount of rest. When you’re more rested, you’re more likely to be happy, less stressed, and less emotional.

Pregnancy can cause unwanted stress in addition to your possibly already stressful life. This additional stress can cause you to feel emotions that you didn’t feel prior to becoming pregnant. You may be stressing about having your baby, finding childcare, what kind of parent you’re going to be, how the siblings are going to react, and how your life is going to change. All these emotions are completely normal when your family is expanding and you’re creating a new life.

Understanding where the stress is coming from is one step to help you control these emotions. If you have stress in other areas of your life such as work, family, finances, etc., it’s best for you and your baby if you reduce your stress level as much as possible. Whether that means addressing the issue, taking on fewer projects at work, practicing yoga, taking time for yourself, meditation, or whatever helps you reduce stress and feel more relaxed.

Significant changes in our hormones can affect the neurotransmitters, which are the brain chemicals that regulate our mood. This can cause us go on an emotional roller coaster. People or comments can set us off and you’ll be crying before you even know what happened. Sometimes just thinking about the joy a baby will bring can causes tears, or we may have anxiety about the way our body is changing. Women find that sometimes they don’t even know the reason for their tears or emotional distress.

This can be very unsettling for you, and your spouse may find it difficult to cope with as well. If your spouse finds this confusing, they may withdraw, ignore the problem, or feel inadequate. This can all cause even more stress for you or heightened emotions, which can exasperate the situation.

Although the emotional roller coaster can cause you anxiety there’s no reason to stress over it. All women deal with the pregnancy differently. Some are more sensitive to the increase of estrogen, while others are more affected by the increase in progesterone. Here are my top tips to help you deal with the emotions and stress during pregnancy.

1.     Make sure you are getting enough sleep. This is crucial to both you and your baby to help grow and develop your baby properly, but it can also help control your mood and help you feel less stressed. 

2.     Make sure you are taking time for you. We often try to tackle as many projects before the baby comes, but you also need to rest and do something nice for yourself. Find something you enjoy doing. This may be a soothing walk by yourself, a yoga class with a friend, getting a massage, or indulging in your favorite shows on the weekend.

3.     Bond with your partner. Nurturing your relationship and talking about obstacles or milestones in your pregnancy can help you feel more connected. Your partner does not know what you are going through or how to help you during this time unless you open up and share your emotions.

4.     Continue to exercise. Exercise plays a huge role in making you feel good by releasing endorphins, or the “feel good hormone”. Endorphins cause you to feel happy, and that can go a long way to help control your emotions as well as your stress level.

5.     Journal. Some women find that journaling helps let out all the emotions even more than talking does. When you journal, you can be as vulnerable and honest without judgment or anyone else reading it. Journaling can help you release stress and anxiety, which can improve your mood.

6.     If you find you can’t shake the moodiness or all the emotions, make sure you talk to your health care provider. You may be among the 14-23% of women who suffer from mild depression during pregnancy. If you let this go untreated, it can affect the baby’s physical well being and increase your risk of preterm labor as well as postpartum depression.

Do you have Trouble Conceiving?

Do you have Trouble Conceiving?

Do you find yourself struggling to conceive? Maybe it's taking a lot longer than you had imagined and you're starting to get frustrated, worried, and wondering if it's ever going to happen. You are not alone. In fact, 12% of married women, or 6.1 million couples have trouble getting pregnant, and couples ages 29-33 with a normal functioning reproductive system has only a 20-25% chance of conceiving in any given month. 

There are many reasons that couples may have a hard time conceiving; it could be issues the woman is facing, problems associated with the man, or a combination of both. If you struggle with this, there may be some options to help you that does not involve fertility treatment. 

Having a healthier lifestyle and eating a clean diet full of organic foods is a great way to clean out the toxins in your system which may be preventing you from conceiving. 

By reducing processed foods, you are riding your body of preservatives, chemicals, artificial colors, artificial flavors and other harmful substances that cause havok on your body. Replacing that food with not just healthier options, but organic food will limit the toxins, pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides that enter your body making it hard to conceive. You want to buy organic produce; if you can buy local such as purchasing from farmer's markets, that option is great! Look for meat that is organic, grass fed, and hormone and antibiotic free. Your fish should be wild caught, not farmed. Make sure you incorporate healthy fats into your diet such as avocado, coconut oil, olive oil, nuts and seeds. 

I have personally had friends who went through this experience. Some close friends of mine tried for two years to conceive, and it wasn't until they switched up their diet and bought organic foods that they were successful. All these chemicals and toxins build up in the body and affect the organs, thus making it hard for some people to conceive. Within months of eating cleaner, they found themselves pregnant!

Even with PCOS (which is what she had), endometriosis. or other factors that may inhibit you from getting pregnant, there's still hope! I would love to help you on this journey!

Exercise During Pregnancy

Exercise During Pregnancy

I often get asked questions regarding exercise during pregnancy such as, "Can I continue to train for marathons? How much exercise is too much? Will it hurt the baby?"

These are all very good questions and something you want to take into consideration while pregnant no matter your fitness level. 

Pregnant women should get at least 20 minutes of exercise per day. There are so many benefits to exercise including: 

  • Exercise will help with weight control. You are going to gain weight during pregnancy, but with a regular exercise routine, you can avoid gaining too much fat which is harder to take off after the birth. Pregnancy is not the time to diet or start a whole new intense exercise regime, but it's also not a free pass to eat whatever you want. 
  • Exercise releases the 'feel good' hormones which can help boost your mood, let go of stress and anxiety, and it will help you sleep better at night. Since there are many factors that contribute to restless nights (getting up to pee, muscle cramps, tossing and turning, acid reflux, crazy pregnancy dreams....) doing something daily that can help me sleep is a must!
  • Exercise contributes to healthy muscles. With excess weight added to your body, your muscles and bones have to support this. Exercise will help keep your muscles strong to support your body and protect your joints and ligaments. 
  • Exercise contributes to a healthy heart. With your blood volume increasing by almost 50%, your heart has to work extra hard to supply your body, as well as your baby, with oxygen and nutrients. 

Although exercise is super beneficial during pregnancy, there are many exercises or sports you want to avoid so you and the baby do not get injured. You should avoid any exercise that is high intensity, high impact, causes you to change directions suddenly, or may cause you to lose your balance. Exercises include: 

  • Competitive basketball, soccer, hockey, football, tennis, volleyball
  • Racquetball
  • Horseback riding
  • Any skiing
  • High impact aerobics, gymnastics
  • Running 
  • Ice skating
  • Lifting heavy weights

Keeping active during pregnancy is good for you and your baby. Exercises that you want to incorporate into your daily routine include: 

  • Walking
  • Brisk walking
  • Stationary cycling
  • Swimming
  • Yoga
  • Pilates
  • Low impact aerobics and dance
  • Jogging (If you were not a runner pre-pregnancy, I would not advise to start now. If you were a runner, you may just slow it down to a jog. Many women find jogging uncomfortable as it is hard on your joints, and the bouncing of the breasts and abdomen can be painful.)

Make sure you listen to your body with any exercise. If you cannot talk and continue the exercise, the intensity may be too high. Slow down, take a break, and sip some water. If you have trouble making exercise a daily routine, grab a friend! Having an accountability partner will help immensely, as well as doing an activity you enjoy. 

As always, talk to your doctor before starting or continuing any exercise program during your pregnancy, especially if you have health problems. 


Benefits of Calcium During Pregnancy

Benefits of Calcium During Pregnancy

Calcium is a very important nutrient when you are pregnant, as now your baby is taking calcium from you. If you don't eat enough foods with calcium or take a supplement, you are more likely to develop osteoporosis later in life. 

Your baby can actually take a two year supply of calcium from you, which is why during pregnancy your body will require twice the amount of calcium. This helps grow your baby's bones and teeth. Also, with the added weight on your body, your bones will need more calcium to help support the extra weight. Not only does calcium aide in strong bones, it also helps keep your heart beating, it helps your muscles work, and it helps your nerves communicate; all vital day to day functions. 

When you do not get enough calcium in your diet, your body will take the calcium from your bones and give it to your baby. This is what causes osteoporosis later in life. 

During pregnancy, you need about 1,400 milligrams of calcium. If you take a calcium supplement, it is important to check the label for "elemental calcium." This is how much calcium the supplement actually provides. 

There are many great sources of calcium, and not all of them come from dairy. If you're someone who doesn't care for dairy, can't eat it due to lactose intolerance, or chooses not to eat it for other reasons, there are plenty of non dairy sources of calcium. 

Good sources of calcium include: yogurt, cheese, milk, almond milk, fortified orange juice, canned salmon, sardines, tofu, collard greens, sesame seeds, almonds, kale, broccoli, spinach, and rhubarb. 


Pregnancy Cravings Uncovered

Pregnancy Cravings Uncovered

There's no doubt that pregnancy cravings can be very intense, to the point you make your SO drive to the store at 2am to get you that salty bag of chips or that sweet donut.

Typically when you crave something, it's your body's way of telling you it needs a certain vitamin or nutrient. For example, if you crave chocolate, you may be deficient in magnesium. Magnesium is a very important mineral that is used in over 300 reactions in the body, so it's no wonder your body is searching for magnesium.

However, it's not fully understood why pregnancy cravings are more intense. There are a couple theories out there--

If you crave salty foods like a bag of chips or pickles, one theory is that it's natures way of making sure you meet your sodium needs. Your sodium needs do INCREASE during pregnancy!

Another theory is that since women may be extra tired, bloated, crabby and nauseous during this time, they look to food for comfort. You may search out food that you ate as a child, or something that makes you feel happy, No matter the reason, cravings can be very strong and overwhelming during pregnancy.

It's okay to give into your cravings sometimes, as long as you're not eating half a chocolate cake everyday. You may try and see if a healthier alternative will satisfy your cravings. For example, if you crave an ice cream sundae, try plain Greek yogurt mixed with peanut butter, cacao, and topped with raspberries. This will satisfy your sweet tooth, help you meet your protein needs, and you get an extra serving of fruit!

For more healthy alternatives, come join my private Facebook group where I offer support, encouragement, recipes, and more!