Mindful Pregnancy Table of Contents

This blog series is not meant to express an opinion about how anyone else should navigate pregnancy, childbirth, or parenting; this is simply the story of how one urban yogi in America moved through her own normal, relatively uncomplicated first pregnancy and childbirth. Although my posts end on positive notes, many parts of the process were challenging for me, and writing this blog helped me stay sane. My hope is that by being authentic about my experience I will empower other mamas to do the same. Because I shared what I was going through, friends from near and far reached out to support me, which made the difficult moments manageable and the joyful moments ecstatic. I thought it would be the birthing process that was empowering, but it was the solidarity from other women that gave me the fortitude to rise fully and completely to the challenge of motherhood. My hope for other mamas-to-be is that you will acknowledge your experience as it is (whether whether that’s blissful, horrible, or somewhere in between), will be unashamed to express that, and will be able to attain the resources you need to navigate your path.

I blogged my whole first trimester after-the-fact (alternating with present day posts), which makes it a little hard to navigate my Mindful Pregnancy posts in order. Here is an ordered week-by-week list of all my posts:

2 – Conception
3 – Pre-Conception Nutrition
4 – First Symptoms of Pregnancy

Bound Side Angle

4 Weeks Pregnant.

5 – Peeing on a Stick
6 – Secrets
7 – Nausea
8 – Surrendering Control (Or Not)
9 – New Joys
10 – Sharing the Joy (And Splitting My Pants)
11 – Hypermobility and Pregnancy
12 – Head Cold with a Side of Morning Sickness

12 Weeks Pregnant

12 Weeks Pregnant.

13 – Ascending From the Haze of the First Trimester
14 – So, What Type of Birth Are You Having?
15 – Beginning to Plan for Birth
16 – So When Do I Get That Baby Bump?
17 – Big Feelings
18 – Pregnancy Firsts

18 Weeks

18 Weeks Pregnant.

19 – It’s a Girl!
20 – Coping with Insomnia
21 – Beyond-The-Basics Nutrition
22- Pregnancy Book Reviews

22 Weeks Bump

22 Weeks Pregnant.

23 – To Work or Not To Work?
24 – Horizontal Growth Spurt
25 – Tis the Season to Dress to the Nines
26 – Baby Movements
27 – Home for Christmas
28 – 13 Misconceptions I Had About Babies

28 Weeks Pregnant

28 Weeks Pregnant.

29 – Nursery Mania
30 – Things I Love About My (Early) Third Trimester
31 – Healing an Eroded Body Image
32 – Birth Prep Class
33 – Dessert Decoration, Dog Deodorizing, and Dutailier
34 – Commitments to my Daughter
35 – “Lightening,” An Early Sign of Labor

35 Weeks Pregnant

35 Weeks Pregnant.

36 – Thoughts About Labor
37 – An Epileptic Mama’s Postpartum Plan
38 – Selfie Photoshoot, Stuck Rings, and Staycation


38 Weeks Pregnant.

39 – Encouraging Labor Naturally
40 – Equinox Firestorm’s Birth Story
40+ – Mindful Pregnancy Epilogue: The Fourth Trimester

33 Weeks Pregnant: Dessert Decoration, Dog Deodorizing, and Dutailier

February 2 – February 8: 33 Weeks 0 Days – 33 Weeks 6 Days.

Dessert Decoration

Okay, I admit it: I secretly want to get an over-the-top professional maternity photoshoot wearing a lace maternity gown and a floral crown. I didn’t even know what a maternity sash was before accidentally finding them on Etsy, but now I can’t help wanting one of those too, to… wear around the house, I guess. I can’t really justify the cost of any of these things, but a girl can dream!

This weekend I had my San Francisco baby shower, and I’ll jump at any opportunity to make an elaborate cake. There was one particular maternity sash on Etsy that I kept ogling, so I decided to get it out of my system by making it the inspiration for my cake. Cake-decorating is one of my forms of artistic expression, and it felt great to spend several dedicated hours focused on creating something to honor the baby.


In another feat of not emptying my bank account into the baby industry’s pockets, I bought a beautiful Dutailier reclining glider chair and ottoman on Craigslist instead of getting one new (check that of the to-buy-used list I made a couple weeks ago). I probably didn’t spend any less than I would have on a new one, but I got much better quality for the price. When I tried out the glider chairs on display at Babies R’ Us, at least half of them no longer glided properly or felt like they were about to fall apart. The one I got is built solidly and is still in great condition. I listened to my daily birth prep hypnosis track by Rachel Yellin reclined in the nursery today, and it was lovely.

Dog Deodorizing

The big event of the week was that our dog, Foxy, got sprayed in the face by a skunk. Richard heard her yelp and immediately opened the door and called her in. She showed up at the door barely able to open her eyes, frothing at the mouth, and coughing. We were so focused on rescuing our furbaby that we didn’t put enough thought into containing the skunk odor. By the time we got her eyes rinsed with saline and her coat cleaned with a hydrogen peroxide concoction, she had dripped skunk oil through the house, shaken off in the bathroom before she was deodorized, and contaminated Richard and me so we were spreading stink around the house too. The next few days were spent deep-cleaning the house. I looked online hoping that bleach (a recommended deskunkifier) was unsafe during pregnancy so I’d get out of scrubbing the bathroom from floor to ceiling, but all I found was an article that began: “Unfortunately ladies, most products are safe to use for cleaning during pregnancy. Yes, even bleach.

Foxy listening for the baby

Foxy likes to stand out in the backyard to listen and feel for gophers underground. Before she got banned from the couch after the skunk incident, she had taken to resting her head on my belly. I like to think she knows there’s a little critter in there and she’s listening and feeling for it.

An article called, “The One Thing No One Tells You Before You Have Kids: Don’t Get a Dog,” was circulating Facebook recently. I’m hoping we have Foxy trained well enough that most of the issues recounted in the article wont be problems for us. Also, occurrences like the skunk-ocalypse 2015 make me believe more and more that having a dog is amazing preparation for having a kid. Here are ten way Foxy has trained Richard and me for children:

  1. Developing roles. Foxy forced Richard and me to work as a team to make sure she was getting all her walks, food, and other care. When we lived in the city and she needed an escort for every outdoor excursion, I, the early bird did all the morning walks, and Richard, the night owl, did all the evening walks. I’m hoping that once we introduce bottles we can develop a similar schedule with the baby.
  2. Choosing a “parenting style.” Richard tends slightly more to the “dogs should be allowed to act like dogs” side and I’m a little more in the “training a dog well gives it more freedom in the long run” camp. We a agree on most things, but we have oodles of practice reconciling the things we disagree on (and sometimes reconciling means accepting that we’re each going to do things differently). I think Richard and my philosophies on parenting will be flipped from how we feel about the dog. I’m more of the “let kids be who they are” philosophy and Richard believes in “give the kids enough structure to set them up for success.” Obviously somewhere in between is ideal, and I know from our experience with the dog that we’ll (eventually) reconcile our differences in opinion.
  3. Advocating. Foxy is allergic to poultry, of all things, which means I have to advocate for her when people try to feed her chicken and turkey. And I get a lot of backlash for it! Many people seem to think I’m an overly concerned health-nut yuppie, or that that there’s no way a dog could be allergic to meat (I don’t understand it either, but that doesn’t change reality), or that because she likes chicken it proves she’s not allergic to it. They’re not the ones who have to clean up the vomit and diarrhea for three days afterward. If my child has food allergies (or another condition that makes her sensitive to her environment), I’ll have no problem being as much of a mama bear as I need to be to make sure she doesn’t get exposed.
  4. Not freaking out about health stuff. We didn’t know Foxy had a poultry allergy at first, and she had some scary symptoms: bloody diarrhea, vomiting, not eating for three days, hives. After spending enough money on vet visits, we learned to discern between what we could watch and wait on, and what actually needed medical attention. I hope that I can maintain the same level-headedness when the baby has her first rash or first fever (or at least learn to do so by the fourth or fifth rash or fever).
  5. Dealing with poop. Before I had a dog, one of my biggest concerns about having a baby was that I wouldn’t be able to deal with the icky diapers. I’ve dealt with so much and so many different consistencies of dog poop now that I know I will have no problem with the diapers.
  6. Being okay with not being able to have nice things. I posted months ago about redoing my patio to create a succulent and beach pebble oasis. I was borderline neurotic about the stones being exactly the right color. My kitchen opens onto the patio, so I’ve started a little herb garden out there too. One of Foxy’s preferred places to poop? On my black Mexican beach pebbles! And, the other day I caught her eating my chives and licking my cilantro—remind me to wash those thoroughly before cooking with them. Honestly though, I have a feeling the baby/toddler/child/teenager is going to do much more damage than Foxy has ever done, but Foxy has at least begun to prepare me. Yet another reason to buy used instead of new where possible.
  7. Loss of freedom. Especially now that I live in the suburbs and work in the city, it takes a lot of orchestrating to make sure Foxy doesn’t get left at home for too long (and I’m definitely not installing a doggie door with the skunks around here). Scheduling around the dog has made it clearer which jobs will be sustainable when I have a baby—the job that’s a 45-minute commute either way for one hour of work isn’t going to be worth the cost of childcare.
  8. Learning to trust babysitters. Okay, this is a lie. I don’t trust dogsitters. I do have two sets of friends I can leave Foxy with and totally relax, but I’ve never ever left her at a doggie daycare or in a kennel. However, I recognize that this is something that I need to get over, especially if I ever want to work again after having kids.
  9. Maintaining our relationship. It’s easy for a dog to take over a couple’s life. For a while, all Richard and I were talking about was Foxy, Foxy, Foxy. Eventually, we instated a “no dog talk” rule that either of us could enact if we were sick of rating poop and discussing the merits of various training techniques. It was always Richard calling the rule on me, which was annoying, but it helped us find our way back to real conversations and connection. I’ve heard from many friends that a baby can completely consume your conversations as well, and I’m hoping that our experience with the dog will help us carve out some time for adult discussion (although, during the first few weeks when we’re both at home exclusively looking after the baby day and night, we may need to get some conversation starter cards…)
  10. Caring about a being so much that you do stupid, crazy things to protect it. Like letting the whole house get contaminated with skunk smell to make the dog more comfortable, or paying a premium to take her to a holistic vet (this sounds kooky, but it was actually totally worth it), or prying an aggressive dog’s maws off your furbaby with your bare hands (this was Richard, and it took several stitches to recover). I know with the baby it’s going to be that feeling of love and protectiveness on steroids! I can’t wait to experience it.
33 Weeks Pregnant

At 33 Weeks Pregnant, even my maternity clothes are getting tight!

32 Weeks Pregnant: Birth Prep Class

January 26 – February 1: 32 Weeks 0 Days – 32 Weeks 6 Days.

This week, Richard and I are starting to feel like we need to have everything ready to go for the baby’s arrival. I have a couple friends who’ve given birth six weeks before their due dates, and I think I subconsciously set 34 weeks as the time to have everything ready.

I finally bought the crib mattress. It’s a foam core mattress that is so light I can lift it effortlessly, which made me feel good about myself in the store. It was so exciting to get the crib all set up! It made it feel more real for Richard too, and on his suggestion we order several starter items for the nursery (wipes, diapers, butt cream, etc.)

Crib ready to go!

Woodland-themed everything ready to go for when baby arrives! Thank you Mindy for the mobile, Dad for the sheets, and Hope for the clothes.

The biggest milestone of the week was finishing our childbirth preparation class. Early on, a friend recommended I take a third-party birth prep class instead of the one the hospital offered to get less biased education. She also suggested a class that spanned several weeks instead of one packed all into one day so we would have time to digest the information and identify questions. Upon the suggestion of my doula, Richard and I chose to do Rachel Yellin’s 4-day childbirth preparation class, which focuses on the use of relaxation and hypnosis techniques during childbirth. Rachel’s class is definitely geared toward women hoping or an unmedicated birth, but more than that, it’s focused on empowered, conscious birth—on teaching couples about their options so they can make informed choices.

My doula told me that Rachel’s class was experiential rather than just providing a bunch of information about birth, and this was definitely true of the first and last days of the course. We tried out several birthing techniques that involved breathing, relaxation, visualization, affirmation, and intimacy (I wont go into specifics and give away her trade secrets). I’d already read several books about childbirth, so doing a birth prep class that focused more on practice and experience than information and facts appealed to me. Her homework assignments involved bonding time between partners, listening to her hypnosis and relaxation audio program, and checking out other resources she provided. I’d previously been listening to the audio tracks from the Hypnobabies self-study course, and something about Rachel’s tracks was more soothing and relaxing for me. I think it’s partly because her dialog moves along more quickly (without feeling rushed), which makes it easier to follow when I’m feeling restless (That said, I love some of the Hypnobabies techniques and tracks, and hope to incorporate them during my birthing time). Richard enjoys Rachel’s tracks too. After falling asleep to the Relaxation and Affirmations for the Birth Partner track, he says he “inexplicably” wakes up in the morning feeling more affectionate toward me and wanting to help me out and support me in any way he can.

The middle two days were more informational. My favorite part of these days was hearing birth stories from Rachel’s years working as a doula. We also went over many of the interventions the hospital could do, the rationale behind their protocols, what the evidence had to say about these protocols, and what our options were. To some, it may seem overly cautious to question hospital’s protocols, but historically medicalized childbirth doesn’t have the best track record. It is well known that for many years doctors routinely performed episiotomies (cutting into the perineum to make the vaginal opening larger) because there was a theory that this would reduce tearing and other complications. Then they actually did some research and found out that in most cases episiotomies don’t prevent anything and often lead to a challenging recovery.

I’d read about the big ticket items like labor induction techniques and pain medication before, but I’d never thought about whether I’d want to automatically be fitted with an IV upon arrival at the hospital (instead of waiting to see if I’d actually need it) or if I should go along with routine hourly vaginal exams (which arguably aren’t that informative and increase risk of infection every time). Rachel also talked about the interventions hospitals do with babies. Finding out that I could opt out of these procedures was less interesting to me than hearing Rachel’s suggestions for making these procedures gentler and more comfortable for the baby (e.g. have hospital staff calibrate the scale with a blanket and cap so the baby doesn’t have to lie on a cold, hard, paper-covered plastic. Or, hold a warm washcloth over the baby’s foot before the PKU test to improve blood flow enough that the nurse doesn’t have to turn the baby’s heel into a pin cushion trying to get a blood sample).

Before taking this course, I certain things as completely out-of-my-control when there’s actually a chance some of them aren’t. For example, hospitals test for Group B Step (GBS) around 36 weeks (a strain of bacteria that’s benign in the mother, but may be harmful to the baby), and the hospital tells you that you either have it or you don’t, and you can’t do anything about it. It’s true that there isn’t definitive, hard evidence that you can do anything about GBS besides taking the antibiotics they’ll recommend during labor; however, there are other things you can try, like taking probiotics or eating yogurt.

Similarly, if the baby is spending a lot of time head-up in utero (not promising for vaginal birth in the hospital), there are some easy, harmless techniques you can attempt yourself to encourage the baby to turn head down before the hospital recommends medical interventions to try to flip the baby in the last month (like walking up stairs). As it turns out, I would have to put up a fuss at the hospital to officially find out which direction my baby is facing before 36 weeks, so I’ve chosen to pick my battles and wait. I often feel kicking under my ribs and hiccups in my lower belly, so I’m fairly certain the baby spends at least a chunk of her time head down.

Earlier in pregnancy, after reading through the manual for the Hypnobabies Self-Study course (reviewed here), I felt like if I didn’t have the ideal birth situation—with the baby head-down, facing my back, and a pitocin-free labor—I could no longer expect the techniques to be successful. The Hypnobabies affirmations are specific and concrete, relating mostly to that one ideal type of birth. I didn’t get this sense with Rachel’s course. Her affirmations are more vague and focus mostly on intuitively cultivating a healthy, powerful, relaxed internal state, regardless of what type of physical birth occurs. Although it was clear which choices Rachel would make if she were giving birth (which, of course, meant the information was a little biased), I didn’t feel obligated or even expected to agree with her. She seemed genuinely interested in giving parents-to-be the resources to make their own decisions for their bodies and babies.

29 Weeks Pregnant: Nursery Mania

January 5 – January 1: 29 Weeks 0 Days – 29 Weeks 6 Days.

I’m not usually into consumerism. When we bought our house I hit up yard sales, Craigslist, and a friend’s garage to get the furniture we needed—I didn’t buy any large items new. I know that businesses gouge people around big, emotional life events, so when Richard and I got married I made a conscious effort to avoid letting the wedding industry drain our bank accounts. I bought my decorations and (amazing) dress on Craigslist, held the whole event at one venue, chose caterers that didn’t have a special elevated price for weddings, and gratefully accepted help from friends and family for everything from cake-making to officiating. Somehow the baby industry has gotten to me though. I can’t seem to resist wanting the new, the shiny, and the top-of-the-line.

I didn’t initially have a theme in mind for the nursery. In fact, I think themes are kind of silly. Our wedding didn’t have a theme—we had a Barbie and Ken cake, truth or dare fortune cookie favors, and Craigslist personals ad-themed place cards. Nothing fit together, and that was the way I wanted it.


Tree Shelves

My mom bought us this amazing alternative to the tree bookshelf on Etsy for a fraction of the price. (Sitting on easy-sliding cardboard until we decide on it’s final location because it’s heavy as, well, a stump).

When I started working on my baby registry, I quickly found out I couldn’t just add generic “crib sheets” to my list. I had to pick out specific sheets, and the ones with the little forest animals on them were cute, so why not? Add. Then there was an adorable mobile with a fox, raccoon, owl, and hedgehog on Etsy. Add (My sister ended up hand-making me something similar, yay!). Then were sweet fox-themed hooded towels, bibs, and burp cloths. Add, add, add. Then I found out those forest friends crib sheets had a whole matching nursery set. Resist. Aagh, can’t. Add lamp, add hamper, and add area rug. Then I found the $80 (each) handmade wooden forest animal bookends on Etsy—expensive, but if someone wanted to get them for me I wouldn’t stop them! Add. Then the $2100 tree-shaped bookshelf from the same Etsy artist. ADD.

Delta Bennington Dresser

Delta Bennington Dresser and changing top (mine is a little darker to match the crib)

Ladies and gentlemen, a nursery theme and a manic, starry-eyed consumer are born. Once a theme had clearly emerged, I deleted several items from my registry that didn’t fit, and added versions that matched my nursery theme, even if they were a little pricier. To give provide some context to show how out-of-character all of this is for me, nothing matches in our house. In our bedroom, we have a mahogany-colored bed frame, a honey-colored bedside table, and a white bedside table. In our office space, we have two cabinets and two desks, each with a different colors of wood. In contrast, when we started looking for cribs, my first filter was for models I could get in a dark wooden color to fit my forest theme. My second filter was that it had to have a matching dresser with a changing top. I’ve officially been seduced by the baby products industry.

Forest animal outlet covers

I had to admit I had a problem when I observed myself asking Richard if we could hire an electrician to install a different type of outlet in the nursery to fit these adorable outlet covers. Luckily I came to my senses. (If they fit your outlets, the artist who makes them can be found here: https://www.etsy.com/shop/cathyscraftycovers . Send me pics so I can live vicariously through you!)

To cut myself some slack, shopping for nursery furniture is overwhelming and I needed to decrease the search space somehowI stand by getting a dresser and changing table in one—that’s a money saver—but I would have saved more money, new-product fumes, and a disturbing amount of Styrofoam packing material had been less picky about matching furniture and found one used.

Foxy tears up Styrofoam

We had the horrifying amount of styrofoam that came with the nursery furniture all bagged up for disposal (5 bags, ughhh), and while we were out Foxy unwrapped it all.

Nursery themes aside, cribs are the gateway to getting hooked on new products. The experts tell you to buy cribs and mattresses new to make sure they’re up to the latest safety standards. Looking for a new crib funneled me into baby stores full of stainless, unscratched, pill-free baby paraphernalia and furniture. Ogle. It also got me worrying about the safety of used items. There are several baby bathtubs selling for $3.50 at my local baby thrift shop, and even though they look like the exact same one I have on my registry, I haven’t bought one because I’ve been irrationally worried about their safety. Reality check: a baby bathtub is just a big bucket that I would never leave my baby unattended in anyway—it would be hard to go wrong.

Delta Bennington 3-in-1 Crib

Delta Bennington 3-in-1 Crib.

Once I got the superficial filtering out of the way, I did take some time to research and critically compare my favorite cribs (The Consumer Reports crib buying guide was helpful). We chose a crib made of pine, which was affordable, but pine is a softer wood so we can expect a multitude of dents and scratches. I ruled out cribs that contained particle board (common in IKEA furniture) as I’ve read it releases toxic chemicals into the air. However, the crib’s matching dresser has particle board in the back and in the drawers. I thought it would be negligible, but it smells awful! It’s locked away in the nursery-to-be spending some quality time with our purifier. It will be months before the baby sleeps in there, so hopefully it will get most of its off-gassing out of the way by then. The crib has a painfully basic design—it doesn’t have any extravagant nobs, posts, or details that could easily catch a baby’s clothing and be a strangulation hazard. We decided that a crib that converts into a toddler bed (and a day bed, whatever that is) would be enough (some convert into full beds as well). One salesperson advised us that if we bought a pine crib, by the time the child was at full bed age, the wood would be so beat up we wouldn’t want to use it as a full bed (maybe she was just trying to upsell us though).

Selecting a crib mattress was initially confusing (why are there so many??), but I did some research to help me narrow it down (Again Consumer Reports was a God-send). I chose a mattress (the Simmons Kids ComforPedic) with a foam core (instead of coils) because they’re much lighter, which will make frequent sheet changing easier. It also has a waterproof cover for easy cleaning. It’s firm on one side for infants (firm mattresses reduce SIDS risk) and plusher on the other side for toddlers (makes sense to have a two-in-one mattress since our crib converts to a toddler bed). I chose this mattress over less expensive ones because it is Greenguard and CertiPUR-US certified, meaning it is less likely to contain toxic chemical or emit noxious fumes. It’s also got a 35-year warranty; I’ve rarely made use of a warranty, even if something breaks, but it shows that the manufacturers stand by their product.

Now that I’ve bought the stuff that parents are “supposed to” buy new, my intention is to overcome my nursery mania and acquire most of the rest of my baby items used. Here are some of the things I’m looking for, if you have any leads:

  • My Brest Friend nursing pillow (preferably a forest-y color, but I’ll get over it if it’s not)
  • Glider chair and ottoman (non-rickety; many of the seem prone to falling apart)
  • Baby Bathtub
  • Baby Wipes Warmer (I chose the Munchkin Glow on my registry, but that may have just been because it came in green…)
  • Laundry hamper
  • Fitted crib sheets (forrest-y colors and patterns would be irresistible)
  • Sun shades for backseat windows
  • Baby clothes (preferably not pilled and stained)