Sunday, February 26, 2012

Laselle Kegel Exerciser: Review #5

Laselle Review #5
by Jenna of That Wife Blog

When I wrote Rixa asking to review the Laselle Kegel Exerciser I was practically begging. Bladder problems and issues "down there" have always been a bit of an issue for me. When I was 4 years old my mom started taking me to specialists, because I didn't have any control of my bladder. They actually put me under general anesthesia to run some tests and some dyes through me to try to understand what was going wrong. At 7, I was put under again and had surgery on my bladder. I wore pull-ups at night until was 9 years old because my muscles were so weak and I couldn't control them at night. I was only potty trained after I used a special pair of underwear to sleep each night, with a buzzer put in the crotch that would go off whenever I started to pee. During high school I was diagnosed with Interstitial Cystitis, which not only gave me bladder pain from acidic foods, it made holding any urine in my bladder almost unbearable, and I was constantly attempting to find a bathroom to relieve myself. Surgery helped solve that for me, but that time period certainly didn't help develop any muscle tone in that area.

Since that time, things have been better (I don't pee the bed anymore, hooray!) but control over my muscles down there has always been an area of weakness. During exercise, I have almost none and always have wet underpants when I finish working out. Yeah, I know it's unappealing to admit, but it's just part of my life, you know? After pregnancy, things got a little bit worse or me, but they were always bad enough that I didn't notice that much of a difference. I recently went to a doctor who put his hand at the opening of my vagina and asked me to flex my Kegel muscles. It took me several tries just to figure out what I needed to do to make that happen!

And all of that is why I was so interested in using the Kegel Exerciser. I will first say that I dislike the white colored string on the ball, because if you insert it near the beginning/end of your menstrual cycle the string will turn a dull reddish-brown color from the blood on your vaginal walls. I wish they had made the string a dark brown or black. Happily, that is the only criticism I have for this product. It was easy to insert (they provided a container of lubricant to use if I needed it) and as long as it is inserted high enough I can't even feel it.

The first day I put it in, it kept falling out. When riding in the elevator, walking up stairs, exercising. I was constantly finding the nearest bathroom and pushing it back up. Two days later, I couldn't even keep it in. I suspect that my muscles were tired from holding it? I've been wearing it for over two weeks now though, and the last few days I have almost forgot that it was there. I think my muscles are already stronger! It's hollow and has an inside element that kind of swishes around when you move, which reminds me to practice strengthening those muscles consciously throughout the day. I received the 38g/1.3 oz exerciser. Eventually I'd actually like to move up to the 48g size and work those muscles even more.

I definitely think it is worth the $12.99. I plan to buy the heavier (48g/1.7 oz) version as well.


Available at CVS stores and online.
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Saturday, February 25, 2012

Laselle Kegel Exerciser: Review #4

Laselle Review #4: Kathryn

I'm thirty years old and have four small children. When my husband and I decided we would like to have our children close in age I didn't know I could be dealing with issues that I was only vaguely familiar with and I thought were "old lady issues"; something that happened after menopause, not a worry for a twenty-something with a few small kids.

All of my babies have been on the larger side. I think that may have a little to do with the pelvic floor weakness I have experienced. My first was 8 lbs 4 oz, the next two 9 lbs, and my little guy, who is 13 mos now, was 10 lbs 4oz at birth (my first waterbirth, and I'm so thankful he was!) I also grew up with a chronic deep cough from allergies. I was recently reading an article about prolapse and realizing how this may have put me at a disadvantage from the start, causing weakness to my pelvic floor as I was growing up.

In the weeks after my third birth, I experienced a sense of bulging from my vagina. I found it very upsetting and humiliating. If I spent much time on my feet during the day I was just miserable, not only with physical discomfort, but the mental devastation of feeling that I was "broken" and "ruined". I honestly didn't know if I'd ever be able to have enjoyable sex (for either party) again, much less have another baby without my parts falling right out of me! (These fears seemed huge and scary to me!) After a few weeks of this, I tearfully confessed to my husband my fears and physical state. He was comforting and encouraging. For months I was back and forth between believing I would, in fact be ok, and being embarrassed and feeling that I had somehow caused this.

From my own research, I have found that I have issues all around... My worst is the front, cycstocele (bladder prolapse) and urethracele (urethra prolapse) but I have a small rectocele and I think my uterus may be dropping slightly to the front, but that may just be the bladder (which seems to be the worst of it). I've seen great improvement over the last few years with changes to my posture, Kegel exercises and caution not to lift heavy items, though I often still have the sense of bulging. I had come to believe that for me (and probably many women for a variety of reasons) this is something that just has to be lived with. I desire to keep my body strong and healthy. I would like to have a couple more children and be able to live an active life, so I do believe that being proactive in strengthening these muscles is important.

I didn't know much about Kegel exercisers such as this, but I remembered reading something online about how this was an option for strengthening these muscles. I was so excited to receive this product for review! I received the Laselle Kegel exerciser. It is available in three sizes; I received the middle size: 1.3 oz. It's a small pink silicone ball with a short cord. I was determined to start right away (hoping a little for at least semi-miraculous results)! I read through the product pamphlet that came with it and chuckled at the note that "as with any workout, you do not want to push your body too much and too soon." I thought I'd give it an hour or so, and really expected that I would wear it much longer. Was I surprised when right about a half hour I was really "feeling it"--the workout, that is! I could definitely tell my muscles were getting a work out, and I was surprised that I actually decided that was enough for one morning! I continued the next day and went a bit longer than a half an hour, but I would only wear it just a little past the point that my muscles were really feeling the workout. I was excited about this.

My youngest was just about to turn a year and I continued to breastfeed, but I had it in the back of my mind that I may turn up pregnant soon. We were hoping to add one more to our growing little family and this was about the time that nursing no longer kept my cycle away. After nearly two weeks of this new exerciser a friend suggested that I take a pregnancy test since my baby turned a year and my cycle had still not returned.

Well, we are indeed expecting another! The instructions in the product pamphlet say to discontinue use when pregnant. I stopped using it right away, but with great results! With my last pregnancy I felt so miserable in the beginning. I was very uncomfortable with a "bulging" feeling in my vagina constantly until about 16 weeks. This time, I really think the Laselle is to thank! I have not experienced the same discomfort since I have begun using this product. I have had a couple of really busy days mostly on my feet, that I would have avoided before, knowing the uncomfortable consequences that would follow. On the day following those days, I experienced only mild discomfort. Now, even after not using the product for about three weeks (since my positive test), I am very comfortable! I feel strong and confident that I am not broken and I have a great option for keeping those muscles in shape. I am looking forward to using it again to strengthen my pelvic floor after the arrival of this little one! Next time I will have more than just a couple weeks, and I expect to see even greater results!

I would absolutely recommend this product to anyone experiencing pelvic floor weakness. I am usually reserved about talking about "private" matters, but for this I would speak up in a heartbeat. So many women, like me, experience these challenges and are intimidated about speaking up or hopeless that there is something that will really work. Well, this has for me! Although I certainly still have symptoms and have significant prolapse issues, I am not experiencing the discomfort that I was before. I am thrilled with this product and can't say enough good things! Thanks to Intimina and Rixa for the opportunity to review this great product!


Available at CVS stores and online.
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Friday, February 24, 2012

Laselle Kegel Exerciser: Review #3

Laselle Review #3: Laura

I have a cystocele and uterine prolapse. I have had 5 babies vaginally - some medicated and some natural. Two of those births, I had episiotomies (babies #1 & #2). Two, I tore (babies #3 & #4) and one I gave birth over an intact perineum (baby #5). My biggest side effects from this injury at this point in my life is stress incontinence when exercising and uncomfortable intercourse at times because of the bladder pressure and cervix sensitivity.

I used the Laselle exerciser once a day for 10 minutes each time for one month.

I have not noticed any difference at all. I found the device to be uncomfortable even after wearing it for weeks on end. It felt like it was irritating to my bladder. I found that I felt like I always needed to go to the bathroom when it was in. I would not recommend it to others.

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Thursday, February 23, 2012

Laselle Kegel Exerciser: Review #2

Attempting to Correct Pelvic Prolapse: Two Reviews

A few months ago, Rixa at Stand and Deliver posted about a giveaway opportunity to review a new product designed to help women address their pelvic floor prolapse issues. Since that has been one my most major concerns this pregnancy, I volunteered to be a reviewer.

After getting pregnant again, it became clear to me that my hip issues were connected to other places where I have been experiencing pain. Back when I was pregnant with Belle, there was situation where I found myself 28 weeks pregnant with a resistant toddler just when I saw the bus we needed to get was pulling in across the street. The toddler (Willem) wouldn't walk and I didn't want to wait another 30 minutes with a tired, hungry toddler at the bus stop for the next bus. I grabbed him and ran. As a result, I pulled a ligament on my pubic bone. It was that ligament that caused me to stop participating in my Irish dance company because the weight of the pregnancy and the pain in that ligament was too much. My hip issues then started a few weeks later and continued intermittently. The ligament didn't give me any more trouble after Belle's birth--that is, until I got pregnant this third time. Its been bothering me more than my hip has the last few months.

Between pregnancies, I also noticed that I was experiencing some minor prolapse issues with my pelvic floor. It seemed to be worst when I was wearing a heavy 25 pound toddler on either my front or back. My hip would also start hurting and I'd feel that familiar ache into my thigh bone. It with those experiences that I concluded that all my hip trouble is likely related. My pelvis has been through a lot the last 6 years of childbearing and mothering!

My goal for this pregnancy was to find some effective ways to address these issues so they would not get worse after this baby was born. I've spent the last year trying to strengthen my body with regular exercise through a gym membership and personal training. I think its made a difference because here I am 32 weeks pregnant with only minor stiffness and achiness in my hip joint.

I had considered for quite a long time finding a skilled Physical Therapist to address the pelvic floor issues but for various reasons felt that I wasn't sure about the effectiveness in regards to the cost. I wanted to learn more before I made that investment.

Some friends introduced to me the company Whole Woman about the time Rixa posted about reviewing the Laselle exercisers. For Christmas, I purchased the First Aid for Prolapse DVD. It’s a good thing I did; I started using the Laselle exerciser before I purchased the DVD, and it became much more effective after learning the principles taught in the DVD.

Since receiving the Laselle exerciser, I've tried to use it for about an hour at a time a few days a week. Usually, I use breakfast time for it because I'm able to focus on my posture while I cook and sit to eat.

At first, especially before viewing the Whole Woman DVD, I found the Laselle exerciser more annoying and discouraging than anything else. It seemed like it didn't matter what I did, but the exerciser would not stay positioned and I'd have to reposition it every few minutes.

After viewing the DVD, I learned that the explanation was probably in my posture. After spending a couple of weeks trying to retrain myself to hold my body, I started using the Laselle exerciser again. I find now that I better understand how to isolate my pelvic floor muscles and focus on holding the Laselle exerciser in.

Because the exerciser is a weighted ball, it’s unlike something that is designed to stay inside the vaginal opening without falling out. It rolls out, and the goal is for the woman to be able to use her muscles to hold it in and prevent it from rolling out.

I do plan to continue using the exerciser now that the review period is over. I'm especially grateful from what I have learned from the Woman Woman DVD and will continue to remember those principles of good posture. Because I am currently pregnant, I find that I cannot easily do all the movements in the Whole Woman DVD. Its not designed for pregnancy at all, so I will pick up with that after the early postpartum period is over. I believe it will be a wonderful DVD to use to get back into exercise after the baby is born.

Until then, I find that using Spinning Babies for baby positioning, pelvic rocks, hands and knees position, focusing on proper posture, using the Laselle exerciser and belly dancing (using my new Belly Dance for Birth DVD!) are all helping my hips feel good and to address my pelvic floor issues without making them worse with the advancing pregnancy. A good diet of plenty of protein and fiber has also been really important to prevent constipation. Green smoothies and rice and beans are my new best friends.

In conclusion, I highly recommend learning the principles of Whole Woman posture because that is what I have found most helpful in addressing my prolapse issues. The Laselle exerciser is a helpful way to practice and ensure that I'm getting the posture right. For that reason, I feel like the Laselle exerciser would be more effective if the product included more information regarding its use, specifically counseling women on good posture to prevent and correct prolapse issues from occurring.

Review originally posted here.

Available at CVS stores and online.
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Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Laselle Kegel Exerciser: Review #1

I am posting a series of 5 reviews of the Intimina Laselle Kegel Exerciser. I've decided to break the reviews up because most of them are quite detailed. In addition, each reviewer has different underlying pelvic floor issues.

Besides evaluating the Laselle device, the reviews addressed problems that normally remain hush-hush. But these issues are ones many women will face, some because of pregnancy or birth, others from underlying malformations, others from age.

If you have a pelvic floor issue--pain, uterine prolapse, constant aching, incontinence, or rectocele/cystocele--you are not alone. Don't be afraid to speak up, to ask questions, and to seek solutions!

Laselle Review #1: Kate

I am a 26-year-old woman who has had 7 pregnancies. Four were live births; three were first-trimester miscarriages. I have been sexually active for 8 years.

I began to notice pelvic floor issues in the weeks following the birth of my fourth child. Sometimes I would bend over and it would feel like there was something about to fall out of my vagina. Within a few months, my cycle resumed and when I would try to use tampons, it was almost impossible to get them inserted because there was no room to get them in. If I did manage to find a way to insert a tampon, it would fall out within minutes. Depending on cervical positioning during my cycle, there were times when my husband and I could have intercourse successfully, but mostly, it was impossible. And although orgasm has always come easily to me, these pelvic floor issues left me completely unable to have an orgasm for nearly 12 months.

Then there was the leaking urine. It was constant. So constant that my perineum and bottom were always sore from the burns of leaking urine. Shortly before I was given the opportunity to review this product, my family practice doctor recommended I have surgery to repair a first to second degree uterine prolapse. I could reach my cervix before even getting beyond the first knuckle of my finger and my cervix was open to about 4cm.

I scheduled an evaluation with a gynecological surgeon, and their review of my case left them wanting to schedule surgery immediately. The Laselle was my last attempt at a more natural approach to salvaging my pelvic floor before submitting to surgery.

I began using the exerciser for 12-hour periods of time. At first, I had to reach a couple of fingers into my vagina to make space to insert it, but it never fell out. Sometimes I wouldn't notice it at all and I never noticed it when bending or lifting. Other times, it would feel like a weight in my vagina and would give my pelvic floor an achy feeling. One of the claims of the product is that it's there to remind you to Kegel around it, thus strengthening your pelvic floor - but since I rarely even felt it inside me, it wasn't really possible. I wore it for several weeks and would occasionally skip a day to give my pelvic floor a rest.

I knew this product was life-changing within 18 hours of initially using it. My husband and I attempted intercourse, and for the first time in 10 months, there was resistance and tightness in my vagina. (A true celebration!) Within three weeks, I had an evaluation with a gynecological surgeon. At that appointment, we were evaluating how much of my pelvic floor could be salvaged and as he did the exam, he couldn't even find any evidence of prolapse!!! (Rixa, I know you hate multiple exclamation points, but this deserves celebration!)

In the last month, I have been able to experience orgasms in the same capacity as I did in my *cough* younger years, and after almost a year of going without, I am satisfied once more. Beyond that, for the first time ever I have been able to experience orgasm from *only* the rhythm of intercourse, without any other kind of stimulation, which has been amazing for my husband and me.

I plan to keep using this as I see/feel the need to. Definitely not in the time capacities as I did early on, but enough to keep my pelvic floor nice and toned.

My results were most likely a combination of a great product and pouring my heart out in prayer, asking my Heavenly Father to heal my body. The timing was divine and I credit faith and the talents of women in giving me a non-surgical way to fix a uterine prolapse.

And I don't even pee my pants anymore. I am no longer competing with my children to try and get to the toilet the quickest. I can actually hold it. And my perineum has been urine-burn-free for more than a month.

I would absolutely recommend this product to anyone looking to improve their pelvic floor - from mild to more serious issues. Any way to avoid serious surgery is certainly worth a try! I have already recommended this to my nearly 60-year-old friend who is dealing with uterine prolapse and bladder issues. She was so happy to put in an order because it is *so* inexpensive. $12 versus a $10,000 surgery?

Lastly, I was the recipient of the Intimina Feminine Moisturizer. I may be admitting this for the first time ever, but I am a lube snob. I live just minutes away from a specialty lingerie shop where they have all the high quality lubricants, and I know what works well and what doesn't. The Intimina lubricant is THE BEST lubricant I have ever used. It is silky smooth, never feels freezing cold, and enhances intercourse, rather than making it soggy. If it gets anywhere else on my skin, it only needs to be rubbed in, not wiped off, as it leaves no sticky or oily residue.

Having said all this - THANK YOU for giving me this opportunity! It's time for me to climb into bed with my Valentine............and our co-sleeping baby.

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Tuesday, February 21, 2012

From evening gown to dress-up clothes

I found this breaded evening gown at a thrift store for $2. Sparkly! And with huge shoulder pads! Yay 1980s!

I recently discovered Trash to Couture and thought I'd try my hand at refashioning the dress into something for Zari. I liked her 80's beaded blouse to Parisian cocktail dress.

I wanted to preserve as much of the original neckline, beading, and zippers as possible. The beadwork was a pain to work with. We now have thousands of beads littering our attic floor.
I took the sides in, then cut new armholes. Once the bodice was done, I cut the floor-length skirt off at the knees and waist, pieced the two panels together, and attached the new, fuller skirts with gathers. I used the satin skirt lining to make a sash.

Here's the final result:
It's a bit large for her still, but this means she'll get several years of use before she outgrows it. This project was a success, but I think I'll stay away from beading in the future. It's almost impossible to sew over without breaking needles.
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Monday, February 20, 2012

Chicago? Yes or No

I have the opportunity to visit Chicago next weekend for 4 days / 3 nights (Feb 29-Mar 3). Eric is going to a conference and I'm trying to decide if I and the kids should come along with him. We went a few years ago when I was pregnant with Dio. This time, though, I'll have 3 little kids in tow. This time of year, the weather can be very spotty and so I can't plan on doing outside activities such as going to the zoo. Eric will be pretty busy with his conference, so most of the day and some evenings I'll be on my own with the kids.

Reasons why I want to go:
  • Be together as a family and do some fun things together when Eric has time
  • Hotel has a pool! Of course, I don't think I can bring all 3 kids by myself, since 2 of the 3 can't swim... so I'd have to go when Eric is available to help. Maybe I could do it with Inga in a sling, but I think she'd be throwing herself out trying to get in the water.
  • Lots of fun (but $$$$) things to do, such as the Aquarium, the natural history museum, Navy Pier, art museums, etc. I'll probably only go to one of these because of the cost.
  • It's a fairly easy train ride to get there, and the kids would love riding the train

Reasons why I'm hesitant to go
  • I'll be mostly on my own with 3 kids. Dio can function without a nap, but Inga cannot. This might throw a wrench in what we can reasonably do during the day. And if Inga is napping, where do the rest of us go? Sit in the hallway outside our hotel room for 2 hours? 
  • No kitchen, no microwave, just a mini fridge. So I'll have to prepare all our meals in advance and bring them with me. I'm too cheap to eat out for that long and with that many people. We might eat out once total. 
  • What do I do at night after I get the kids to bed? Again, I can't even watch TV in the room or go on the computer, because Inga is a light sleeper. So basically I'd have to go to bed at 7:30 pm.
  • Overall hassle factor hauling around kids, food, diapers, etc

Anyway, I can also go up for just part of the time. But I just don't know if it's worth it this time of the year when it might be really icky outside and we only have one hotel room for the 5 of us. So tell me, Chicago-ites, should I go? What could I do in downtown Chicago (or anywhere else accessible by public transportation) with 3 little kids in tow? Are there any cool birth/breastfeeding events going on in Chicago Feb 29th - Mar 3rd?
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Sunday, February 19, 2012

Giveaway 1-3 winners!

I love this part of blogging...

DanielleCNM (comment #45) won the infant scale sling

Sarah (comment #13) won the Avishi Organics Intensive Repair Oil

Sarah (comment #17) won the batik ring sling!

I emailed both Sarahs but didn't have an email for DanielleCNM. Please get in touch with me ASAP.
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Valentine's Giveaway #4: house plants

My last Valentine's giveaway is something beautiful, functional, and good for your health: house plants!

The winner will select one of the following from a friend of mine who sells houseplants (potted and starts) on Ebay:
  • A "mama" spider plant with several "babies"
  • A set of 3-6 smaller potted plants
  • A do-it-yourself kit with plant starts, several small plastic pots, soil, and decorative stones

Here's more information from the sponsor about the health benefits of house plants:
Houseplants are not only pretty, they help clean the air! According to Rhonda Ferree, Horticulture Educator with University of Illinois Extension, research shows that houseplants have an important role in cleaning the air we breathe. A team of National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) researchers tested 15 types of houseplants on three pollutants known to be present in spacecrafts. These same pollutants-- Benzene, Formaldehyde, and Trichloroethylene--are present in homes and office buildings.
  • Benzene is a very commonly used solvent that is present in many common items including gasoline, inks, oils, paints, plastics, and rubber.
  • Formaldehyde is a chemical found in virtually all indoor environments, including modern office furniture, grocery bags, floor coverings, carpet backings, and permanent-press clothes.
  • Trichloroethylene (TCE) is used in printing inks, paints, lacquers, varnishes, and adhesives.
NASA found that certain houseplants removed as much as 87% of indoor air pollutants in 24 hours under controlled conditions. Each plant type were placed in sealed, Plexiglas chambers in which chemicals were injected.

According to a University of Agriculture in Norway study, indoor plants can reduce fatigue, coughs, sore throats and other cold-related illnesses by more than 30 percent, partially by increasing humidity levels and decreasing dust.

The Top Plants included Golden Pathos, Spider Plant, Bamboo Palm, Chinese evergreen (Aglaonema), English Ivy, Gerbera Daisey, Janete Craig Dracaena, Corn Plant Dracaena, Mother-in-Law's Tounge, Mums, Peace Lily, Warneckii, Dracaena, and Philodendron.

The plants remove substances from the air through their leaves, roots, and soil bacteria. NASA researchers suggest that for the plants to be effective "air cleaners",it is necessary to use one moderate sized house plant per 100 square feet of home or office space. My house is 1032sq ft and I have 57! Some are HUGE plants!

You can find more info at
To enter:
  • Leave a comment about your favorite giveaway option
  • Open to US (lower 48) residents only
  • Dads get an extra entry--new comment, please (Hint: pass this along to your husband/son/dad/brother/uncle/etc!)
  • Contest ends Wednesday, Feb 22 at 5 pm EST
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Thursday, February 16, 2012

Valentine's Day Giveaway #3: Batik ring sling

Carry your baby in style with this beautiful cotton batik ring sling from Second Womb Slings. This single-layer sling is compact and lightweight, perfect for carrying newborns and infants. The pocket on the tail allows you to carry essentials such as keys, phone, and diapers.


This sling comes in size small. It fits women's shirt size XS or S (for a longer tail) or M (for a shorter tail).

To enter:
  • Leave a comment here
  • Expecting moms get an extra entry (new comment, please)
  • Open to U.S. or Canada residents
  • Contest ends Sunday,  Feb 19 at 5pm EST
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Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Valentine's Day Giveaway #2: Avishi Organics Intensive Repair Oil

If you have dry or irritated skin, stretch marks, or scars, you'll love winning Avishi Organic's Intensive Repair Oil. The company has generously offered a bottle of the Intensive Repair Oil ($38.50 value). With Avishi Organics, you get natural, effective plant-based ingredients 100% of the time. No filler oils, no petroleum-based products, and of course no animal testing.

Avishi Organics was founded by a mother who was frustrated with available stretch mark treatments. Either the products contained harmful additives or chemicals, or they were "natural" but with little therapeutic value. Avishi Organics provides natural and effective treatments for scars and stretchmarks.

I've been trying out my own bottle of Intensive Repair Oil for the past several days. I have only a few minor stretch marks from my three pregnancies, so unfortunately (fortunately!) I cannot test whether it reduces the appearance of stretch marks. But I have discovered that this oil is fantastic for moisturizing. My skin gets so dry during the winter, and the oil definitely earns its title "intensive." One drop is enough to treat both hands. The oil absorbs quickly and leaves no residue. And I love how it smells: overtones of lavender with hints of rosemary.

Every drop in the Intensive Repair Oil originated from a living plant. The ingredient label reads like a botany textbook:  oils of aloe, rosehip seed, calendula, olive, macadamia nut, borage, goto kola leaf, tamanu, lavender, sea buckthorn, helichrysum, rosemary, and neem. Isn't that lovely?

To enter:
  • Follow Avishi Organics on Facebook or Twitter, then leave a comment here 
  • Extra entry for new or expectant mothers! (new comment, please)
  • Open to US or Canada residents
  • Contest ends Saturday, February 18 at 5 pm EST
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Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Valentine's Day Giveaway #1: Infant Scale Sling

The first of four Valentine's Day giveaways is an infant scale sling from Second Womb Slings. Also called "baby scale slings," infant scale slings gently cradle newborns while they are weighed with a digital or mechanical hanging scale. They're the perfect gift for new parents, doulas, or midwives.

The winner can choose the fabric and ring color. Here are a few examples:

flame dots w/ bronze rings
red vines
green swirls
red bloom w/ red rings

To enter:
  • Visit Second Womb Slings and leave a comment about your favorite sling
  • Midwives and doulas get an extra entry (new comment please)
  • Contest open to anyone, anywhere in the world!
  • Contest ends Friday, February 17 at 5 pm EST
Stay tuned for more fabulous Valentine's Giveaways this week! 
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    Friday, February 10, 2012

    I don't know much, but what I know works

    The longer I am a parent, the less I claim to know about raising children. But I have figured out a few things:

    1. Wear them out. We talk frequently about the importance of exercising and "getting our energy out." Most days we go on at least one walk. When it's too icky to be outside, we go upstairs into our attic. It has a huge playroom with a swing, rope ladder, gymnastic rings, poor man's trampoline (twin mattress on the floor), old couch, foosball table, pool table, and all of the kids' toys. The kids are encouraged to jump on the bed and couch. They sometimes run laps for minutes at a time around the pool table.

    2. Send them outside. Besides tiring their little bodies out, playing outside is marvelous because I hardly have to do any parenting. They play with rocks, sticks, dirt, and bugs and are occupied for hours. Once we fence in our yard--hopefully this summer--I can send everyone outside without having to be out there every second supervising.

    3. Let them "help." Nothing is as fun for kids as mopping the floor or washing windows or scrubbing toilets. It will probably take you longer, but your kids will be happy and will learn valuable skills. (I have met teenagers who have never cleaned a toilet! Seriously, what is wrong with their parents??)

    4. Give them responsibilities early on. My 5-year-old now plans and cooks dinner once a week. I tell her what to do next and help with tricky tasks such as splitting large vegetables or turning on the gas burners. Otherwise she does everything from start to finish: peeling, chopping, measuring, stirring, sauteeing. She is so proud of herself.

    5. Don't expect a 2-year-old to act like an adult. Little children's brains are wired differently than adults'. And a 2-year-old's brain functions much differently than a 6-year-old's. Tantrums, meltdowns, and other big emotions are a normal part of childhood. I love the book The Science of Parenting for explaining age-appropriate responses to children's behavior.

    6. Turn off the TV. We're working on this one. I sometimes use movies to keep the kids occupied during the "witching hour" of 4 pm until dinnertime. Eric likes to turn on a movie in the mornings when I'm teaching and he wants extra sleep. As a result, our screen time has been creeping up and up. I'm resolved to bring it back down, though, after watching this pediatrician's TEDx talk about media exposure. It is definitely worth viewing.

    7. Set boundaries and stick to them. Children crave structure and consistent boundaries. I'll refer you to this excellent post by a mother of five and former elementary school teacher: Don't ask, tell. Don't follow, lead (Au lieu de demander, dire. Au lieu de suivre, mener). Her post arose after she read this Wall Street Journal essay about French parenting styles.

    8. Help them get enough sleep. This seems like a no-brainer, but many North American children are sleep-deprived. If you want to know why, for example, Dutch children sleep 1-2 hours more per day than their American counterparts, read Sleepless in America

    9. Give them constructive outlets for their emotions. We practice making mad, sad, and happy faces. We show them how to hit pillows instead of each other when they're mad. (it doesn't always work, but we keep trying!) We draw how we feel. We teach our children that it's okay--even good--to feel emotions, but they can't hurt other people in the process.

    10. Love, touch, cuddle, and kiss your children. No further commentary needed!
    Eric and 1-day-old Zari

    Please share your best parenting techniques!
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    Wednesday, February 08, 2012

    A very special breastfeeding relationship

    Here's the story behind the picture of the woman nursing her baby in front of the ISU Memorial Fountain:

    She emailed me a year and a half ago in response to my existential blogging crisis. She shared the stories of her births. She also wrote about her breastfeeding relationship with her third child. She gave me permission to share her breastfeeding journey here.


    I wanted to tell you how your blog is currently giving me the support I need to continue to breastfeed my son that is now 15 months old [Note: her son is now close to 3 years old.] I breastfed both of my daughters, and wanted to nurse to a year but got tired of it and stopped at 10 months and then 11 months.

    I had a really really hard time with my second daughter. I have inverted nipples and got a bad latch the very first time she nursed in the hospital, and she nursed for a very long time. I didn't even realize I had a bad latch until I pulled her off 30 minutes later. She had completely shredded my nipple. I used breast shields, but I was still in excruciating pain 2 months later whenever she latched on, and I would just shake my leg furiously to try to deal with the pain of nursing. I started resented her whenever she needed to nurse. We had very little money, but I really wanted to continue to feed her with breastmilk but was hating breastfeeding. Finally my sister talked me into buying a breastpump, and I exclusively pumped for 2 months and fed my daughter with bottles of breastmilk, so that my nipples could heal. Once my nipples had healed I began breastfeeding her again.

    Because of this experience I was very nervous when I was pregnant with my son (my third child), because I really didn't want to have to pump all the time, and I didn't want my nipples to get torn up. Your blog has been a wonderful resource once again, and I have seen a community that strongly supports breastfeeding. I went to different websites that you recommended and watched videos online to make sure I would get a proper latch. Days before my son was born (when I was 11 days past my due date) my husband gave me a blessing (yes, I am LDS too). In the blessing I was told that me and my son would have a very special breastfeeding relationship.

    When he was born we worked okay together. He was a very picky nurser and I had to use both hands and help express milk while he was latched on or he wouldn't drink. I felt at the time that I wasn't seeing this really special breastfeeding relationship.

    Without your blog and your example, I would have never considered breastfeeding past a year. I really had no plans of breastfeeding past a year. Even at 10 months I was counting down, only 2 months to go, and I was excited about it. Then on his birthday he woke up, and I thought, should I nurse him? I prayed and felt no reason to stop. What has happened in the three months since his birthday is a complete fulfillment of that blessing I received. I have gone from breastfeeding because it is the right thing to do, to absolutely loving it. I truly have a very special breastfeeding relationship with my son now. I LOVE breastfeeding him, and that is something I never imagined would be me.

    These past three months have changed me. I am someone that stays quiet on my opinions and try to let people have the space to form their own opinions, but I have found myself testifying to people the importance of breastfeeding and how special it is.

    About a week after my son's birthday, a coworker of my husband mentioned that she really wanted to breastfeed her son. She was 4 months pregnant with, but because of medications that she is on (they are absolutely necessary for her to be on), she wouldn't be able to breastfeed her son, but she really wanted to breastfeed him. I have been working for 2 months to get my supply up so that I could be giving extra milk for her son that is due in a few months. I have only had on average 6 extra ounces a day, but it is something that she will be able to give to him. Then 3 weeks ago, she found out that she has gestational diabetes. The doctor said that it would make a huge difference to her son when he is born if he is given breastmilk. I felt so grateful that I can give them some, even if it isn't a lot, and hopefully it will help.

    I think your blog is wonderful; it is one of my favorite to read. I love hearing what you are doing with your family and knowing that you breastfed Dio on the bus, and I feel strongly about breastfeeding in public. Because of your blog, I am feeling braver and braver about breastfeeding in public. For the first time ever, I breastfed my son in Relief Society 2 weeks ago instead of going to the nursing lounge. I know that I had the confidence to do that because of the example that you are through your blog, because other women in my ward do not breastfeed anywhere at church except in the nursing lounge.

    I want you to know that your blog has had a really big impact on how I feel about breastfeeding and birth, and how I expect the medial professionals to treat me and my baby as I am giving birth. Thanks to your example and your blog I felt comfortable nursing in public without a cover.

    A dedicated reader for 2 years.
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    Monday, February 06, 2012

    Birth Around The World: 1950s London

    The Telegraph's Anna Tyzach interviewed Monica Fitten about her midwifery training in 1950s London. Below are excerpts from her interview. You can read the complete version here.

    In 1955, when I was a young nurse working in London, . . . nurses were expected to be able to deliver a child. And if you didn’t know your midwifery, you were considered no better than a lay person when it came to attending a woman in labour. It was a steep learning curve with little time off but within six months, I’d delivered more babies than I can count, and had become an authority on the subject of child-bearing women – and their husbands.

    Birth wasn’t a medical event back then; it was a family occasion conducted on the marital bed. Only women expecting twins or triplets or experiencing complications such as toxaemia ended up in hospital; everyone else just got on with it at home.

    I’d spend my days cycling between mothers-to-be in Hammersmith, my allocated district, making sure their homes were suitable for a birth. Most women – or should I say their mothers – would have cleaned the bedroom, but running water and indoor sanitation were still a luxury in those days; many people had outside loos or shared a bathroom with several other flats, which would make my job tricky. In extreme cases – when the surroundings were truly filthy, for example, or if we knew the father was physically abusing the mother – we would send the woman off to the maternity unit to have her baby in clean sheets and peace and quiet.

    I never made any attempts to glamorise birth or play down the upheaval a new baby would bring. It was no use euphemistically saying “it’s all in the mind”; I’d warn the expectant mother that it was going to be damned painful. It didn’t always sink in, though. I got used to women kicking up a fuss as they went into the second stage of labour. It’s just human nature. Some of us – myself included – are born with low pain thresholds while others give birth almost effortlessly. Generally, though, pain was an accepted part of childbirth and we’d only administer painkillers – intramuscular pethidine – to women who had ceased to cope entirely or who were giving birth to particularly large babies. If there was tearing down below, I’d stitch it up myself, unless it was extensive, in which case I’d call the GP. Back then doctors were very good at midwifery.

    Despite all this, it always surprised me how well most women managed in labour. Often it was what they did afterwards that was more of a worry. It’s a myth that everyone is a natural mother. Just because you want a baby doesn’t mean you’ll be any good at dealing with it when it’s born. I met several mothers who were hopeless to the point of neglect. The responsibility of motherhood just wasn’t for them; they got frightened. Later on, when I was a health visitor, I gave evidence in the juvenile court on three occasions about mothers accused of abusing or neglecting their children.

    But you couldn’t really blame these women for getting pregnant. Birth control wasn’t as widely available – or morally accepted – back then. I often helped mothers to have their eighth, ninth or 10th child. These women were dab hands at giving birth. Their mothers would be in the kitchen making tea and minding the other children while their husbands assisted them in labour. Yes, you read that right. Many of the fathers I came across would have made excellent nurses.

    This wasn’t always the case, though. I’ll never forget the first time a father stepped in to help me. Just as his child’s head started to appear, he fainted across his wife’s body. I didn’t know what to do – he was too heavy to move – but the mother found it so funny that she ended up laughing the baby out. “I knew he’d do that,” she kept saying. It was instances like this that made home births so much more fun than having a child in a hospital. . . .

    And thankfully I didn’t witness too many tragedies. Women experiencing complications would go straight to hospital. But I did deliver a couple of premature babies who didn’t make it – in those days you could wave goodbye to any child weighing under 5lb.

    During births I was supposed to be supervised by a senior midwife but she was always late. I got used to her turning up in time for a cup of tea after the baby was born and I’d finished cleaning up the bedroom but it didn’t bother me; she’d seen it all before, whereas I was just learning. When I told her about the fainting incident she gave me a look of unadulterated scorn. “Typical man,” she said. “A bloody good period would see them off. Men simply don’t do pain.”

    Read the rest here
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    Friday, February 03, 2012

    Share The Love: Valentine's Giveaway

    I'm hosting a Share The Love Giveaway on Valentine's Day. I already have three fantastic items: a bottle of Avishi Organics Intensive Repair Oil ($38.50 value) plus a batik ring sling ($60 value) and an infant scale sling ($25 value) from Second Womb Slings. I'd love to add more items to this giveaway--here's how you can play a part!

    If you own a small business, make handcrafted items, or sell products that would interest Stand and Deliver readers, I'd like to invite you to submit an item for the giveaway. Please include photos and a brief description of yourself & your company. I will open the giveaway on Valentine's Day, so please submit your item by Monday, February 13th.

    As the owner of a small business, I love finding ways to connect with parents looking for slings. I hope this giveaway can others spread the word about the amazing things they make and sell!
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    Thursday, February 02, 2012

    11 months old!

    Remember when I wrote about how I felt that Inga and I were more than one but not quite two? Well, that is no longer the case--she's definitely her own separate person now. She has developed so much personality. And attitude (mostly cute, even when she's upset). She's thrown her first few tantrums when someone takes away a toy or food. She will shake her head no if she doesn't want the food you offer. She's learning how to interact with her siblings; I'll catch her trying to join in the same silly games they're playing. If I were to choose adjectives to describe Inga, I'd use vivacious and silly and content (usually) and happy.

    She's so close to walking. We've seen her take a few steps, once in the bath of all places. This is from last week--it was more falling than walking. But today both Eric and I saw her take a few steps all on her own.

    She can stand up on her own without pulling up on something. Like this.
    hat from Danish Woolen Delight
    She loves standing in the middle of a room and taking it all in. She's started signing "potty" back at me when I signal her to pee. Her version is opening and closing her hand into a fist. She loves clapping her hands. She's learned how to climb up and down stairs. I'll often have to go up one or two flights of stairs to find her! She has figured out how to climb up our step stool and reach on top of the kitchen counter. Nothing is safe anymore.
    She tried the same trick at the playground but only made it up one rung.

    She's not eating much food--mostly little tastes of table food plus lots of Cheerios.

    This is what Zari wants to say about Inga:
    She likes to play with toys, crawl, stand up, learn how to walk. I give her toys sometimes. I love her. She likes playing with her bear. She likes to eat everything. That's all. Actually something else: she likes her mama. She likes to eat dirt. She likes to do what I'm doing. We play Follow The Baby with Inga. I love my family and Inga. Inga likes to suck on orange peels. She likes to play with toys in the attic. She likes Dio. I love my family so much and we lived happily ever after. The End. That's all.
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