Things I Love: Evening Primrose Oil

So as everyone probably knows I am super pregnant. Like, stick a fork in me, I’m done. So of course, I’ve reached the point where the preparation for my actual birth starts to ramp up heavily. I already created a post singing the praises of Red Raspberry Leaf Tea (read here). Now I want to share my love of another 3rd Trimester secret weapon, Evening Primrose Oil.

Evening Primrose Oil

I started taking Evening Primrose Oil at 36 weeks when I was pregnant with my son with hopes to use it’s prostglandin properties to prep my cervix for labor and hopefully prevent tearing. I had heard other women preach other benefits such as the shortening of labor or it causing you to dilate more quickly, etc. I did some research back then and had a pretty good outcome so I’m going to be taking it again and thought I would share. I’m not a doctor, birth worker, scientist, research expert, etc. – just a curious mom. 

There aren’t many studies available to prove or disprove the efficiency of Evening Primrose Oil’s benefits during pregnancy. Most researchers conclude that although there is anecdotal and historical evidence to suggest that this supplement can promote easier birth, prevent preterm delivery, induce labor, and ripen the cervix – there is simply more research needed to come to a more concrete conclusion (source).

So here is the basic rundown. Evening Primrose Oil is a natural supplement that has long been used to help efface the cervix in the last weeks of pregnancy, prevent perineal tearing, and promote a quicker, intervention-free birth.

Research is limited and inconclusive about the effect on the birth process itself (source), but there are studies to establish the positive effect the supplement can have on the skin as far as preventing perineal trauma during labor (source). There is also limited evidence on the actual effect the supplement can have on the cervix as far as dilation and effacement.

Anecdotal evidence should obviously be taken with a grain of salt, but in my experience, it did not help my body to progress at all. I didn’t have any significant dilation or effacement, period and ended up with an induction at 41 weeks. I did not, however, suffer any perineal trauma and that, my friends is why I continue to take it (lol).

I used the Nature’s Way Softgel Capsules in my first pregnancy and recently purchased them again for this one. They are available in 250mg, 500mg, 1000mg, and 1300mg dosages. The higher the dosage per pill, the less pills you have to take. I recommend the 500mg, which is what I use.

Here is the Evening Primrose Oil regimen I followed in my last pregnancy (and now, this one):

36 Weeks Pregnant: (1500mg per day)

37 Weeks Pregnant: (3000mg per day)

38 Weeks Pregnant: (4500mg per day)

39 Weeks Pregnant-Delivery: (6000mg per day)

Some women like to apply the EPO directly to the cervix, or use the oil for perineal massage. I did not do this the first time, and am not 100% sure if I will this time, either. If I do decide to apply topically, I will likely start at 40 weeks.

To do this, you just poke a hole in the softgel and insert it up as far as it will go, and it will dissolve. Wear a pantyliner since oil can leak out, and preferably apply at night before bed so you aren’t walking around with an oil capsule shoved up your hoo-ha. For perineal massage, you can cut open the capsule, dispense the oil in your hands and perform the manual stretches (ouch). Not a lot of experience with this on my part, so here’s a link to someone with a little more insight.

 

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Things I Love: Red Raspberry Leaf Tea

If there was ever a woman who refused to be pigeon-holed into one, single “mommy” category, that woman would be me.

I’ll eat sushi all 9 months, but won’t ever take a sip of wine.

I religiously take my prenatal vitamins, but they’re gummies – and generic ones at that.

I work a full time job and have days where I cry silent tears while wishing I could go 5 minutes without someone touching me or asking me for something, but practice (and swear by) many principles of attachment parenting.

And I wholeheartedly trust traditional medical science, but still embrace a few holistic methods in my 3rd Trimester to (hopefully) give me a more favorable birth experience.

One of my favorites is Red Raspberry Leaf Tea, which I discovered while pregnant with my son after reading that it was pretty much a magical labor elixir that had the potential to “train” your uterus to birth more effectively. Sign me up, right? I pulled up all the research studies I could find and learned that 1. There aren’t many studies available to prove or disprove the efficiency of Red Raspberry Leaf Tea‘s benefits during pregnancy (there typically aren’t many studies conducted on pregnant women anyway due to safety concerns, so this wasn’t particularly surprising) and 2. There is a tremendous amount of misinformation circulated about the tea on mommy blogs and forums, alike.

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So here is the basic rundown. Red Raspberry Leaf is a natural supplement that has been shown to tone the uterus so it is able to contract more effectively during labor. Throughout pregnancy, we experience practice contractions called Braxton Hicks. Basically, if your uterus is your bicep, and the Braxton Hicks contraction is the bicep curl, the Red Raspberry Leaf Tea acts as the dumbbell. It’s not there to bring on labor, start real contractions or have any effect whatsoever on your cervix – it’s simply a way to “train” your uterus (a muscle) so when the real labor begins, you’re getting good, effective output from your uterus during your contractions, which then has the potential to move the baby down the birth canal more quickly, thus shortening your labor.

The research studies show that the tea can, in fact, time shaved off your labor – specifically during the pushing phase – but some might deem the time minimal (often less than 20 minutes). But as someone who has pushed a baby out before, I personally don’t find 20 minutes anything to shake my head at. Trust me, I’ll take it. One study in particular showed that women who consume Red Raspberry Leaf tea are less likely to go pre or post-dates, require an artificial rupture of membranes, or have a cesarean section or forceps/vacuum assisted birth. Studies have shown no averse side effects in women, but at the same time are limited so the positive outcomes are limited as well.

So in summation, it can’t hurt. So I drink.

I purchase the Frontier Organics loose tea, and drink it from my Teami Tumbler (use code 10MEGAN and get 10% off). If you prefer teabags for the convenience, I like the Traditional Medicinals version, and you can get them at Target! If tea is not your thing, you can buy Red Raspberry Leaf in capsule form, like these ones from Nature’s Way.

Obviously all anecdotal evidence should be taken with a grain of salt but after drinking the tea in my first pregnancy I was able to push my 8lb 8oz baby in about 25 minutes after a 26 hour long induction. The tea clearly did not help me go into labor, as he was born at 41 weeks and I never dilated a centimeter on my own. But he was big, I was exhausted and still managed to get him out pretty efficiently. Good enough for me.

Here is the Red Raspberry Leaf Tea regimen I followed in both pregnancies (with recipes):

28-34 Weeks Pregnant – 2  Single Cups (16oz) / day

34-40 Weeks Pregnant – 4 Single Cups (32oz) / day

40+ Weeks Pregnant – Labor Day Tea 4 Cups (32oz) / day

Single Cup Recipe (Loose Tea):

Ingredients:

8oz Hot Water

1-2 Tsp. Loose Red Raspberry Leaf Tea

Instructions:

Pour 8oz of Hot Water over 1-2 Tsp. of loose Red Raspberry Leaf Tea. Let tea steep for 5 minutes, then drink. I drink loose tea from my Teami Tumbler (which is designed for loose tea) but you can steep the tea using a Tea Infuser  (use 10MEGAN for 10% off) as well.

If you’d rather make a larger batch at once: Boil 8 cups of water in a stock pot, then add 8-16 Tsp. of Loose Red Raspberry Leaf Tea. Allow 10-15 minutes for the tea to steep, then pour through a strainer and into a pitcher.

Serve in 8oz portions either hot or over ice.

Spoiler: The tea does not taste like raspberry. Sorry. But you can add milk or sweeten to your preference to make it more palatable if the taste of black tea isn’t for you.

Labor Day Tea Recipe:

Ingredients:

4 Cups Water

1.5 Cups Loose Red Raspberry Leaf Tea

Instructions:

Boil Water, then reduce to a simmer.

Add loose tea.

Steep for 20-30 minutes, then pour through a strainer into a pitcher.

Drink 32oz per day from 40 Weeks until you deliver.
 

Teami 30 Day Detox Review

The holidays did me dirty. 

So many tamales. So much wine. All the carbs. 

After the new year I was desperate to jump back on the wagon but felt so sluggish and fatigued I couldn’t motivate myself to get my shit together. 

Enter the Teatox. 

  
I have to admit I have always scoffed at the women who promote tea detoxes on social media and silently judged them for promoting something that likely didn’t work just to make a quick buck. 

I am not a fitness model. Clearly. I’m not even into fitness. My favorite part of going to the gym is leaving. I’m a mom. I work a full-time, high stress job. I have an affinity for candy and simple carbohydrates. I’ve been curvaceous my entire life but as most curvy women can attest, you constantly have to tow the line between sexy thick and sloppy thick – and the difference between the two is usually a couple good months of no holds barred eating and too many nights parked in front of a Real Housewives marathon. The struggle is all too real. 

So after getting desperate for a kick in the ass and doing some heavy Amazon research I was convinced, and placed an order for a Teami 30 Day Detox. 

The detox is made up of two different teas. One is the “Skinny Tea” and the other is the “Colon Cleanse”. 

The Skinny Tea is a loose tea you drink first thing every morning. I purchased the cute Tumbler they sell with a built-in strainer so I could take my tea on the go but a $2.99 tea ball from Wal-Mart would work just as well. You can drink as much as you’d like throughout the day to curb cravings. I enjoy my tea black and though it has great flavor on its own but you can add lemon or sweetener to taste. The tea does curb appetite and help to reduce bloating. I actually was able to wean myself off coffee completely in the process. 

  
The Colon Cleanse comes in a tea bag that you steep for 1-3 minutes and drink before bed every other night while you’re on the cleanse. The longer you steep the teabag, the stronger the effect will be. The name says it all – it will certainly clean you out the next day – but it’s not uncomfortable and you won’t be running to the bathroom all day. For anyone who has an impossibly sluggish digestive system like me, this stuff is a lifesaver. I found that after a couple weeks the I was getting used to the tea and the effect wasn’t as strong so I started steeping the tea for 5 minutes instead of 3 and that did the trick. 

Combined with calorie and food tracking (I limit myself to 1320 calories per day – but I do let myself cheat a bit on the weekends) I was able to lose an incredible amount of bloat with this cleanse. I dropped inches and lost 5lbs in 30 days – but what really impressed me was how I looked. My body just looked slimmer and less bloated. I had energy, didn’t feel sluggish or fatigued and was fitting into my clothes better. 

 

Weeks 1-4
 
All in all I was incredibly impressed with the Teami Detox and will definitely make it apart of my lifestyle moving forward! 

You can purchase the 30 Day Detox here.  Use code 10MEGAN at checkout for 10% off! 

(L) Day 1 (R) Day 26
 

Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness

October 15 is Pregnancy & Infant Loss Remembrance Day.

I went back and forth as to whether I was going to write this blog. But I decided it was necessary, for myself and for anyone else who has ever felt as I have.

Miscarriage is common.

I know we do not like to say that (at least out loud) because it’s scary. As a pregnant woman, you almost feel like you’re jinxing yourself just by muttering the word.

You hold your breath through weeks 1-12, obsessively monitor your symptoms and reassure yourself with the notion that your statistics improve as every week passes.

You don’t read about miscarriage. You don’t talk about miscarriage. But the fact remains, 2 out of every 10 women will miscarry their pregnancy.

For most, you manage to push through your neurosis and make it to the later trimesters with a healthy baby.

For some, the unthinkable happens.

For some it happens in the first trimester, for some it happens later. For some, it happens in the birthing suite, or on operating tables, or in the home.

Either way – it’s tragic, it hurts, and once it happens to you. You begin to feel a different type of stigma – shame.

I know because it happened to me. I got pregnant without blinking, had a dream pregnancy, carried a healthy, beautiful baby boy to term and then had the most incredible birth anyone could ever ask for.

I was professional at baby-growing. At least I thought.

When my husband and I decided we were ready to try for number 2, it happened just as easily as the first time. Except this time the pregnancy didn’t start out as dreamy. I was sick, exhausted, and having trouble getting through the day. But the sicker I got, the more I felt reassured, because the sicker you are the healthier your pregnancy is right? And I had even heard a heartbeat! I mean, once you hear a heartbeat you’re in the clear, right? Wrong.

I was diagnosed with a missed miscarriage on July 22, 2015 at 10 weeks. I had zero symptoms, had hormone levels in the correct range and was as sick as ever. My body was still pregnant, even though my little baby’s heart had stopped beating 2 weeks before.

I did not tell a soul besides my parents and my husband. I locked that secret away and put on a brave face. What would people think of me if they knew I lost my baby? How could I look my pregnant girlfriends in the eye? How could I buy baby presents and play baby shower games and ooh/aah over newborns if everyone in the room knew I was a newly-bereaved mother? How?

The act of growing a human being inside your body is not 100% foolproof. Chromosomes do not always align as they should, organs do not always develop as they should, delicate hormonal balances do not always stay in perfect harmony as they should.

Things happen, usually 100% outside of our control.

So why the shame? Why the silence?

We internalize our pain and put on a brave face to the world because we feel like we have failed. Why couldn’t I make this happen? Why did my body fail me? What could I have done differently? How come she did it and I could not? Why me?

Little do we know, we aren’t alone.

And if we weren’t sitting in shamed silence – we would be aware of that.

I love that there is a movement to put names and faces to the large community of women who have lost their unborn and newborn children. We can share our experience without fear of judgment.

You aren’t alone. It wasn’t your fault. You won’t ever forget, but your life will go on. You are a mother – the strongest and most resilient type of human being in existence. And you will be ok. Your journey is far from over.

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