Comfy Dresses for Pregnancy & Postpartum (Nursing-friendly too!)

Buying maternity clothes is so different than any other type of clothing you buy because you know you’re only going to wear them for a short time. Yet, many maternity clothes are actually MORE expensive than your regular clothes. This time around I knew I wanted to mostly focus on clothes that would be comfy for my pregnancy (all during hot Texas weather months) and still be useful for postpartum.

My Requirements for Maternity Dresses

  • Comfortable for pregnancy
  • Nursing-friendly
  • Flattering Postpartum
  • Unexpected Bonus (can hide bump in early pregnancy!)

These are the brands and dresses that I am loving the most! I’ve been so surprised by how many more options there are than there were 5 years ago when I was expecting my son. I’ve got some great coupon codes for you here too!

Loyal Hana

loyal-hana-nursing-friendly-dress

My favorite item from Loyal Hana is the Cybelle dress which I have in navy but it comes in a million colors. The flowy-ness of this dress is pure perfection—even at 21 weeks, I can still get away with looking like I’m not pregnant so if you are trying to keep pregnancy under wraps at work or elsewhere this is the perfect dress. It’s lightweight and breathable and has very discreet zippers for nursing (genius!). Oh, and did I mention, pockets! They also have lots of nursing-friendly tops that I have my eye on. They are actually offering 15% off your entire order with code TheBirthHour15 so hop on over and check out their options. Find them on instagram @loyal_hana.

Matron Saint

This small business is hitting on all of my requirements and they take the comfy one to the next level! I’m absolutely obsessed with this dress (the v-neck will be perfect for nursing). I have it in dusty rose but I want it in every color! I also love this tunic —looks so cute on my bump but will also be so flattering postpartum. Finally I know it’s not in the dress category but these leggings are the most comfortable I’ve ever worn and the only under-the-bump leggings I’ve ever found to be cute (aka no weird muffin top bulging). They are also offering a 15% off code BIRTHHOUR if you want to check out their entire collection. I have a feeling I’ll be getting a few more items before the end of my pregnancy. Find them on instagram @matronsaint.

Humble Hilo

Ok, this company is so cool! Humble Hilo not only sells beautiful handmade and unique Guatemalan textiles, they also have an amazing social mission. When you buy from them, YOU get to choose to support projects in child nutrition, education and literacy for women, and microfinance loans for women to start their own small business. They have adorable shoes for kids and adults, gorgeous bags and my new favorite item, the hilo dress (with pockets!!) I have the noche pattern and can’t wait to get the matching mini dress (launches this week!). I love the pattern options for hiding stains (and baby spit up). They are offering 10% off with code THEBIRTHHOUR and you will want to check out their entire site and instagram @humlehilo.

Storq

storq maternity dress

I love the basics bundle option from Storq and these are my more form fitting maternity clothes this pregnancy. They are solid, basic and comfy for every day wear but can also pass as dressy when needed. I also have a couple dresses outside of the bundle and the first time I put on this dress and this dress I literally said out lout “damn!” because I thought I looked so sexy! And that’s really saying something because this was during the beginning of my pregnancy when it’s not totally clear whether you are pregnant or just ate too much pizza for lunch. These two dresses are super stretchy but don’t have ruching so they aren’t obviously maternity wear and could be worn post pregnancy as well. I’ve worn the long sleeve one to a wedding and the tank on several date nights with my hubby. Also super happy to report that they just announced that all new products they make will come in sizes 0 through 2X/22 (going up to 3X/26 in the Fall). They created 15 codes for 15% off when you use THEBIRTHHOUR at checkout. Find them on instagram @storq.

Did I miss any of your favorites? Share in the comments!

How to Start (and Grow) Your Young Living Business

How I got started with Young Living

I honestly never take on things like this (The Birth Hour keeps me plenty busy!) but the YL team that I had the opportunity to join (and that you can join too!) is so fun & full of knowledge that I couldn’t resist joining them after watching so many friends move up through the ranks all while having a blast!

I’ve been actively using the oils in my daily life so much (especially during my pregnancy) that it only made sense to get on board and start sharing my experience. And to be totally frank, working solo on the podcast was getting a little isolating and I am loving having a group of friends both online and locally to share mutual goals with.

I’m a terrible salesperson and had no desire to become one but through our team’s free mentorship program I learned that it’s really all about sharing rather than selling. That I could do! I was using the essential oils and products so much throughout the day that I simply started sharing more of my day with friends in my daily life and on Instagram.

The other cool thing is that you don’t have to pay anything up front or keep any stock of products, all you are doing is sharing your referral link and helping people get their starter kit so they can experience all of the most popular oils while also getting their own access to the wholesale prices of 24% off everything Young Living makes!

My first new members were my friends and family that would come over to my house and ask what that amazing smell was or where I got the awesome hand soap in the bathroom etc. Everything I had learned in the mentorship was pretty spot on—the people that love you and already trust your taste will be interested in the things your are using and loving! I was hooked! 

With a Young Living business you can:

  • Get your products paid for
  • Be your own boss and have more time with your family
  • Work alongside an amazing community of women leaders and entrepreneurs
  • Earn an income that is a direct result of your own efforts
  • Grow real wealth and residual income through the well established business model of network marketing (I know this is the part people struggle with and I did too but I haven’t experienced anything sketchy or salesy since joining!)

Our team has all the resources and tools you need to start growing your very own Young Living Essential Oil business including graphics and photos free for you to use, pre-made oils classes for you to teach, ebooks, ongoing trainings and education, and best of all, a vast community of support and friendship. Honestly, my favorite part—it’s truly so much fun to work alongside these women and celebrate each others successes no matter how big or small!

The Business Opportunity with Young Living

If you have you fallen in love with Essential Oils and now you want to share with others,  Young Living allows you to turn that passion into a real income! Our team’s primary mission is to give you the tools and education you need to succeed.

We equip each of our new members with resources and tools including an online mentorship, and tons of guidance. The beauty of a Young Living business is that it’s designed to foster a community of support. That means that when you decide to grow your business with Young Living and enroll as a brand partner, you get free and unlimited access to all of our team resources and community support groups and anyone that you enroll will get the same!

What makes Young Living different than other MLMs?

OK, yes I was turned off by the idea of joining a network marketing or multi level marketing business because of all of the horror stories I’d heard. At the same time, I had friends in my real life that were seeing huge successes with their Young Living Businesses! A couple of people on my upline showed me their actual paychecks so at least I knew the money was real right off the bat. Even though I trusted them, I wanted to make sure and do some research of my own.

So the big concern with MLMs is that they are a scam or a pyramid scheme, right? Since the only startup cost was to get my $165 starter kit, which I already had (and loved!), I wasn’t too worried about being scammed. I already knew the products were high quality and worked for me and my family, so again I wasn’t worried about scamming people with crappy products! 

In order to earn full commissions you do need to be on the Essential Rewards program spending but I was already doing that, because, again, I loved the products and loved all of the perks of this monthly autoship program (free stuff, points back, etc!). We were switching out conventional products for non-toxic, plant based products in our home and loving the changes we were seeing so this was also a no brainer for me. We started getting our cleaning products, supplements, shampoo, etc. all from Young Living. Plus, how many startup businesses can you think of that can get off the ground spending only around $50 to $100/month?!

Ok, so the pyramid scheme thing. All MLMs are designed in a way that when you look at your team it does resemble a pyramid and Young Living is no different. However, I don’t view this as a scheme because our team is all working together to help one another succeed. One thing unique to Young Living is that they allow you to strategically place your members in different areas of your organization so your upline can actually help YOUR team grow by placing people that enroll with them into your team. So, when those above you are doing well, it actually helps your business and of course every person who joins your team also helps those above you.

We all grow together and supporting each other is definitely the vibe I saw immediately once I joined our private team groups on Facebook. It’s actually pretty remarkable how supportive those groups are and how inspiring the members are. It’s so rare to come across a big online community of women with ZERO cattiness or mommy wars behavior. Of course I can’t speak for every Young Living team out there but the team I joined has become a group of lifelong friendships. 

So how much are people actually earning with a Young Living Business?

How much you earn in your Young Living business is entirely up to you. Some members are content to earn a few extra hundred dollars a month, while others are looking to earn six-figure incomes and beyond. Again, my favorite part is that when those above and below you succeed, you succeed too! It’s definitely a team effort and you never feel like a salesperson out there alone.

Below you’ll see the average monthly income earned by the nearly 1.75 million Young Living members worldwide. Last updated in 2018. Our team is all about helping you reach your goals, however big.

I’m currently a Gold leader with Young Living and I’ve been doing the business for 3 years. 

(more…)

Self Care Gift Ideas for New Parents

Adjusting to a new baby always comes with its challenges. Whether it’s your first or your fifth, you’re dealing with lack of sleep, hormone shifts, putting the needs of this new human before your own AND figuring out what your relationship with your partner looks like now that there’s another person in the picture. These are some of our favorite recommendations for new parents to ensure that everyone is practicing some self care while caring for their new bundle of joy.

Sleep

Sleep is obviously the biggest hurdle so let’s tackle this one first.

  • Hire a postpartum doula – this is an invaluable gift you can give to new parents that will help them get some extra zzz’s.
  • Smart Nora – the last thing you need when you finally do get to lay your head down is to be woken up by your partner’s snoring. I’ve been truly AMAZED at how well the Smart Nora has worked to curb my husband’s snoring. It’s been priceless to not only get more sleep but also to not be annoyed at him for waking me up several times a night!
    • You can see in the picture below how it works, the box powers it and hides under the bed and then there’s a pillow insert that inflates when he starts snoring and it moves his head just enough to get him to stop.
    • The egg looking thing on our night stand is the sensor that detects the snores and activates the pillow.
  • Eye Mask – I was one of the first supporters when this mask launched on Kickstarter and I can’t say enough good things. It completely blacks out the room which is so great when you are trying to get your sleep in at odd times.
  • Diffuser and essential oils (lavender, frankincense, roman chamomile and cedarwood are my faves). More on how we use oils here.

gifts for new parents

Eat

Nourishing your body with good food when you’re new parents is almost as important as sleep. Some great gift ideas are.

  • Home cooked meals – easy meals that can be frozen and popped into an oven or crock pot are ideal.
  • Take out gift cards. Or how about this Katz’ deli meal you can order on amazon?!
  • Gift card to a meal prep service. Either one that makes complete meals or one that sends the ingredients and you make the meals like Blue Apron. My best friend’s husband loves to cook and got sick of eating meals people brought so this was a great option for them, especially when he was on paternity leave and had some extra time.
  • Grocery shopping – either offer to do this for them and stock them up with some staples or gift them with a credit to a grocery delivery service in their area. Instacart is one many people use and Amazon Fresh is a newer one.
  • Nursing snack station – Fill a basket with healthy and quick snacks for the nursing mom (trail mix, granola bars, jerky, nuts, etc).
  • A great book that outlines specific meals that are nutritious and healing during the 4th trimester is this one!
  • Monthly subscription for healthy snacks or fresh fruit.

photo: @danihampton

Household

  • House cleaning service!!! (This is the #1 recommended by all parents I interviewed!).
  • Dog Walking Service or doggy day camp gift cards.
  • Take the older kids somewhere on the weekend and/or offer to do school drop off/pick-up for a week!
  • Laundry Service.
  • Cloth diaper service (obviously check with them first on this one!)
  • Monthly subscription for flowers.
  • Amazon prime membership (check to see if they have one first).

Comfort

Here’s where you can have some fun and do some pampering for both parents. Almost all of these ideas came from new moms!

  • At home massage visit or spa gift card. There are massage therapists that specialize in postpartum.
  • Since they will be spending most of their time lounging around the house, a really nice robe or set of pj’s is a great gift especially since baby likely already has tons of sleepers, treat the parents instead!
  • Nice sheets or a cozy blanket (maybe even one to commemorate baby)
  • Herb baths – Mom shouldn’t be using any bubble baths or bath bombs right after baby but an herbal bath that’s specifically meant for postpartum is a great gift. I love this one for sitz baths and this one for full tub soaks.
  • One mom suggested a special body wash or shampoo to motivate her to take showers and practice that basic form of self care! Try an organic option! I’m obsessed with making my own with essential oils too.
  • High end face wash and moisturizer to help mom feel fresh and self indulgent at the beginning and end of each day.
  • Diffuser and essential oils.

Setting Boundaries & Expectations Postpartum

Setting boundaries with your loved ones is one of the tricky things about having a baby that no one really talks about in childbirth preparation. But Stephanie and I have both personally dealt with this and we know how important it is so we want to go over how to get on the same page with your partner and how to approach issues with your extended family. Be sure to grab my favorite free printable download yet that goes over some of the questions you should be asking each other and tips on how to navigate and set postpartum boundaries.

Grab your free download — Setting Boundaries Questionnaire 

Fertility Awareness Method (FAM): Natural Birth Control

This guest post was written by Austyn Smith

The book “Taking Charge of your Fertility” by Toni Weschler provides deep insights into what happens in a woman’s body during a typical menstrual cycle. Learning about these changes in detail helps women become very in tune with their body’s physical signals of fertility (or lack thereof). In part one of this series, we discussed using Toni’s Fertility Awareness Method to help in troubleshooting infertility issues naturally, and ultimately achieving pregnancy. In part 2, we will discuss using this same method as a means for birth control.

Natural Birth Control After Baby

I have successfully used the Fertility Awareness Method (FAM) for natural birth control for over four years, and have loved it. It entails charting your body temperature, your cervical mucus, and your cervical position as a means for noting your fertile and infertile times, and then planning intercourse accordingly. Although this method is not for everyone, it can be a great option for women who prefer not to use traditional birth control or have adverse reactions to it (myself). Using this method does require a bit of planning and consistency in order to be effective, so it is ideal for the organized or schedule-driven mama.

Plan on charting two full menstrual cycles before you begin using this method so that you can get a true understanding of charting, how it works, what it all means, and identifying your own body’s cues and signals of fertility. During each cycle you will be taking a daily basal body temperature (you need a special thermometer for tracking), recording cervical mucus, and cervical positioning (optional). A sample chart of a typical cycle is below.

sample fertility chart

As a reminder, there are three phases of a typical menstrual cycle: the pre-ovulatory infertile phase, the fertile phase, and the post-ovulatory infertile (luteal) phase. I recommend re-reading FAM part 1 to review the basics of the signs of fertile and infertile phases, before continuing on. I also highly recommend reading the book in detail before trying this method in order to get a clear picture of the procedures in detail. At any rate, here is an overview.

Phase One: Pre-Ovulatory Infertile Phase Rules

The first phase of a cycle begins on the first day of bleeding during your period. During this phase, there are two rules to follow.

First five days rule

You are only “safe” to have intercourse during the first 5 days of a menstrual cycle if you have had an obvious temperature shift 12-16 days prior.

Having this shift means that ovulation has indeed occurred and the bleeding you are experiencing is not ovulation spotting or implantation bleeding. Remember sperm can live for up to five days in a fertile environment, so any time after these first five days consider yourself potentially fertile, even if you are still bleeding. You may consider yourself “safe” beyond the first five days if you then keep the second rule.

Dry Day Rule

Before you ovulate, you are safe on the evening of every dry day—meaning you do not have any cervical discharge during the course of the entire day. If you have been dry and then have intercourse, the next day you must be careful since semen may mask cervical discharge. If at the end of a day after intercourse you have been dry all day, consider yourself safe once again (remember, sperm cannot survive in a dry environment).

Phase Two: Fertile Phase

Ideally, you are only having unprotected sex when you know for sure you are in your infertile phase. If you do decide to have sex during your fertile phase, you will need to use a barrier of some type (like condoms—we are huge fans of these), or explore other areas of arousal and climax without penetration. A woman’s egg once released survives only 24-48 hours. However, if the uterine environment is right, sperm can survive for several days, so there is a range on either side of ovulation day where you must consider yourself potentially fertile. To err on the side of caution, assume most women have an 8-10 day range of fertility. As a basic review, the signs of fertility include:

  • Cervical mucus changes from dry to sticky, then creamy, then eggwhite (extremely fertile), to sticky or dry, and finally menstruation.
  • Cervical positioning changes from firm, low, and closed to soft, high, open, and wet and then closed and low again.
  • Basal Body Temperature Shifts: a spike of several tenths of a degree which remains high for 3 consecutive days will indicate that ovulation has occurred. Remember you need a special thermometer for tracking.
  • Ovulatory Pain: Some women experience cramping in the lower abdomen on one side indicating ovulation is occurring.

Phase Three: Post-Ovulatory Infertile Phase

During this phase remember the Temperature Shift Rule.

Temperature Shift Rule

You are “safe” the evening of the third consecutive day your temperature is above the coverline.

Review how to chart temperatures and calculate coverline here. Essentially, the first day there has been a temperature rise by 2/10 of a degree, and has stayed elevated for 3 consecutive days, you can be sure you have ovulated. Highlight the previous 6 temperatures, and identify the highest of those. Draw your coverline on the chart that is one degree higher than the highest of those temperatures.

You are considered infertile at 6pm on the third consecutive night your basal body temperature is above the coverline. If your temperature is on or below the coverline during those 3 days, you must start over once your temperatures are back above the line. Remember, sex is still okay, only you must use a barrier method.

There are a few exceptions to these rules that will throw your body off a little bit—being sick, traveling, breastfeeding, or sleeping poorly for instance. So definitely review the book in detail before trying out this method.

Monitoring and charting fertility signs not only helps women understand their fertility in a very detailed manner, but can also serve as a diagnostic tool for infertility, as well as a means of natural birth control. It can be a great alternative for women who do not want added hormones, surgery, or the pressure of remembering to take a pill for birth control. I have found great success in using the Fertility Awareness Method both to prevent pregnancy, and to achieve pregnancy when I want to conceive. You may find a copy of Toni Weschler’s book here, and more information and community resources about using the Fertility Awareness Method at Taking Charge of your Fertility or ovagraph.com.