Dare to Bare….My Hair???

PureVibranceWe’ve all heard about the big hair issue of pregnancy. No, not how gorgeous and thick your tresses will get while your pregnant or how fast it will grow. I’m talking about the issue of whether to dye or not to dye. That is the question. Now if you’re like me, you always envisioned your pregnancy with this beautiful natural flowing mane of hair, looking all earth mama boho chic beautiful…natural and sexy. Right? Okay perhaps that’s just me. But the reality is that if you’ve been dying your hair or even highlighting and/or low lighting it (which is what I’ve been doing for years) then you will be forced to decide to either continue to do so while pregnant or let your roots run wild and your natural color show for all the world to see. There’s a ton of literature available about this issue but no hard medical facts that substantiate hair dye to be dangerous to the fetus. It is only suspected that hair dye on your scalp is potentially dangerous to your baby’s health. So, this decision is yours and for some of us it might be a big one. For me, it wasn’t hard to chose. I had pretty much decided to do pregnancy sans hair dye since before I even met my husband. That said…it was a process.

What I chose to do:

My hair is naturally blonde. My hair is also naturally curly. It’s kind of been my thing to have blonde big curly hair (even though I occasionally partake in a blow out for a little treat). Over the years however, I started to do the highlight thing and then the highlight/low light thing to give my hair dimension. As I’ve gotten older I can tell my natural blonde has gotten darker. It’s considered “mousey blonde” or “dirty blonde” at this point. Neither term sounds too appealing to me. Since I’ve gone so long with out seeing my hair in it’s complete natural state, all I have to go on is what color my eye brows are and other hair on my body. So, okay I’m still blonde but I don’t want to look “mousey” or “dirty.” When hair dressers have done my color in the past they often comment at how light my natural color still is. That’s always made me feel good but whenever my roots have grown out with highlights, to me they always look dark. That said, when I thought about growing my hair out and letting my roots go wild I immediately freaked at the thought of that horrible line you get when your roots grow out and then multiplied that look x9 months of growth! Oh hell no!

The beauty of planning to try to get pregnant and preparing body/mind/house and spirit prior to TTC also includes making time to get your hair in order! When we moved to Seattle in July I began my hair journey so that once we started TTC my hair would be where I wanted it to be for the duration of a pregnancy. The first thing I did was research colorists in my area and also people who are good with curly hair. If you are a curly girl, you will relate to this: cutting and coloring curls is totally different than cutting and coloring straight hair. When I lived in NYC I discovered Devachan and realized that cutting and coloring curls is an art and these people were the artists who wrote the book. Actually they did literally write a book!

Since my curly hair revelation I have tried to find Deva-trained hair dressers and colorists in every city I have lived in. It just so happens that in Seattle, they are all under one roof at the very chic and hip salon Vain. I made an appointment with a stylist there and explained to her that I wanted to get pregnant and while pregnant, I want to still look good (my hair at least). I explained my issue with growing out my roots and also the fact that I wasn’t exactly sure what color of blonde my natural hair really is anymore. So we devised a plan of attack. This was, to take out the highlights and match my low lights by doing an all over color that would wash out as I washed it over time. She promised me it wouldn’t be too dark in the end even though in the beginning it may seem that way. So, I went for it and sure enough….full freak out mode. It was not too dark it was WAY TOO DARK. I could hardly look at myself. This was not even blonde anymore this was looking brown! So, I went back for a fixer session a few weeks later after washing my hair like a mad woman 2-3x a day to try to get it to fade. The hair dresser was super sweet about it and realized that in fact this was maybe over kill. She did some kind of a rinse and toner and threw in some golden highlights that she felt were very close to my natural color so that as it grew out, it would blend and not have a line.

As it turns out, the second time in worked great and so began my growing out phase while anxiously waiting to see what my real color would look like. I still gave myself enough time to change the color if need be before TTC. Fortunately, I realize my natural color was pretty and I even started to get lots of compliments on my beautiful natural blonde curls! Who would have thought?! Don’t get me wrong as delighted as I am that I can live with this color for 9+ months, I will 100% be going to get some dimension added back in via color when I am done being a vessel for a little one. I miss having little funky streaks of lighter and darker shades mixed in, however now that I know I like my hair I will probably do highlights/low lights less frequently and more sparingly than before. I am starting to fall in love with my blonde shade…it’s more “goldie locks” and less “mousey locks” (thank you God or shall I say, thank you genetics)!!!!!

Hair Products I swear by that are baby safe too:

What I’ve been using on my hair, I am fortunate enough to be able to stick with through TTC and pregnancy because it’s all totally safe for baby! I go between two sets of hair products: Arbonne and DevaCurl (from the Devachan curly girls).

You’ll see me talk about Arbonne products a lot on this blog because everything they create is totally safe to use on your largest organ- your skin! I live for their products and I’m 100% about them for my skincare, my make-up and body care. The only place I let anything else touch me is when it comes to my curls because I can’t live with out my DevaCurl products and have found my hair is looking and feeling it’s best when I mix it up wit Arbonne! The DevaCurl products and Arbonne products are sulfate-free and paraban-free, which is very important. I’ll give you my scoop below:

My Arbonne picks for dry, thick, wavy, curly or color treated hair:

You can check them out directly through my site (yes I love Arbonne SO much I sell it and you can get amazing discounts through me). Click on “hair” and you’ll find Pure Vibrance Lustre Fortifying Shampoo, Pure Vibrance Fortifying Creme Conditioner and Pure Vibrance Texturizing Mousse, all of which I absolutely love! Not to mention it smells so good and never irritates my skin or face as it washes out.

If you’re a curly girl like me then you might become a lifer as I call myself, with Devachan products. You can buy them online.

I use:

No-Poo Cleanser

One Condition

Frizz-Free Volumizing Foam

Light Defining Gel

Good luck with your hair journey ladies and don’t worry, if you can’t dare to go bare while pregnant no one is judging you! (Well at least not me)!!!

Creating a pregnancy safe home!

02_APC_51_1Okay so your body is on the right path, you’re getting in to see your doctors, taking your folic acid, removing your goalie, picking your OB and now you need to do one more thing….get your home baby making friendly! It’s not just what we put into our body but it’s what we touch with our skin, what we breathe in, that needs to be baby making safe. This part can cost you a bit of money but I swear it’s so worth it for the peace of mind. Go into your cabinets, under your sink, into the laundry area of your house and throw out everything UNLESS it’s non-toxic and baby safe. If it is- keep it honey you’re a step ahead of the game! Then, go to amazon or your local store and replace these items with cleaning supplies and agents that are safe. Here’s a list of the brands I recommend:

Mrs. Meyers Clean Day

Seventh Generation

Babyganics

Method

Honest

Once you’ve switched over you can just continue using these safe products because trust me, once you get pregnant, it’s crucial not to be touching and inhaling chemicals. It’s all for the safety of the baby.

Getting ready for the best part…Making a baby!

1329697687758_4339331You’ve probably heard this saying; people talking about getting pregnant saying “we pulled the goalie” to start trying. Well, I’m stealing it and rolling with it even though I’m not really a fan of hockey and could probably come up with something more unique. Ah well. So yes, we had a goalie and that goalie needed to be pulled to TTC. I had a Mirena IUD that needed to be removed. I’m not a big fan of pain but for some reason I chose to book my IUD removal the same week as my wisdom teeth removal! I think at the moment I was thinking just get it all done fast but whoa momma! That was one helluvah week! Why am I talking about this? Because if you want to get pregnant and you have an IUD that needs to be removed, it’s possible your body will need a month or two (1-2 menstrual cycles) to regroup from having the IUD in. I don’t recommend TTC until you let your body heal first. Go for some condoms they won’t kill you. Or if you go unprotected just please keep this in mind. The same goes for going off the pill I would assume although I didn’t go through that so I’d ask your doctor.

Once you’ve removed the goalie and you’re body is ready to rock then do what we did… JUST HAVE FUN! Do not stress! Do not obsess over your baby tracker AP that you bought for your iphone that tells you what days you are fertile or ovulating. Just glance at it here and there to know where you may be at (these things aren’t foolproof) and then just go and get busy with your partner and enjoy this time. I can honestly tell you there is nothing more connected and sexier than making love with your person, trying to make a baby. It’s the most beautiful thing ever. Or at least, it was for us. And on that note…DO NOT GOOGLE! Don’t Google things like “when should we have sex to get pregnant?” You will find a million things that will only confuse you and take the sexy away from the process. My advice? Just have a lot of sex and make sure to have sex every day around your ovulation. My doctor told me this so I will pass it on to you:

Cycle day #1= you get your period (so you count from that day).

Have Sex on days: 10,12,14,16. She says she swears by it!

Here are a couple more notes on the TTC fun part:

  1. Do not use lube it kills sperm as does saliva so try to get naturally turned on.
  2. Doing yoga style shoulder or head stands after sex while TTC isn’t proven to work but if you’re flexible and strong enough it can’t hurt (I totally did it and it caused many laughter filled moments in our post sexy time).
  3. If you get your period and you’re TTC…do not stress out just keep HAVING FUN with it. Stress makes your fertility poop out which is the opposite of what you want! It’s only time to be concerned if it’s nearing one year or if you have other medical issues (which you should talk to your OB about before you start TTC).
  4. Your partner might be a little nervous at first- this is normal. The reality is we all spend our entire adult lives trying NOT to get pregnant and here we are all of a sudden trying TO get pregnant. It’s a little bit mind-blowing. That said once he/she’s come to grips with that and they’re all in…that’s where it gets really fun, special and HOT! See I told you pregnancy nerds are hot!

Getting Your Body Ready

smooches from the elliptical getting ready for baby!

smooches from the elliptical getting ready for baby!

Getting your body ready is crucial and goes a little bit beyond the obvious ones you’ve probably heard about like; cut down on alcohol, cut down on caffeine, put down the crack pipe (okay no but seriously if you are doing anything harmful to your body stop it right now), don’t use artificial sweeteners, etc. For example, (page out of my own book here) have you had your wisdom teeth out? What’s the status of your dental health? Stop drop and make an appointment to get your teeth and gums checked out. Pregnancy lasts for a while and you do not want to need any dental work during that time so get it done now! I had to have my wisdom teeth removed which requires taking lot’s of drugs so I booked my surgery well before TTC so that I would have time to heal and the yucky drugs would be out of my system.  It’s not just the dentist you need to see but your gynecologist as well. I suggest getting a check up and blood work to check and make sure mom to be is in perfect health before TTC. If there are any issues you want time to try to address them before you TTC. Going to your gynecologist is crucial. You should have a pap smear and make sure you get a clean bill of health “down there” before you press go.

The next part of getting your body ready is to look at your eating habits, your weight and your fitness level. There’s something very important to address before we get into this part. That is, every woman is different and should only compare themselves to themselves. Don’t compare yourself to your best friend, that celebrity you’re sort of obsessed with or even your mom or me. You are unique and your journey is your own. Your body is one of a kind and you know it better than anyone else. You know how it handles foods and what exercises it prefers. So that said, it’s time to check in with you. Are you at a healthy weight? Do you eat a balanced and healthy diet? Do you drink mostly water or do you drink sodas? Do you try to eat an organic diet? Do you eat a lot of fruits and vegetables? And the big one…do you exercise and how often? What kind of cardiovascular shape are you in? I’m not going to tell you exactly how you should eat or work out or what you should weigh, only that you do need to do some self-evaluation about all of these things before TTC. If some changes need to be made then give yourself TIME to make the changes before you go for it.

What I chose to do:

I mentioned I got my wisdom teeth pulled and saw the dentist, the gynecologist and got a full blood work panel done including a full Thyroid check because I have a Thyroid issue.

Note on Thyroid: If you are like me and have a thyroid issue make SURE to get your levels checked before you TTC and do not TTC until you get your numbers in a good range. When you are TTC you run the risk of not being able to get pregnant or if you do get pregnant, not being able to keep the pregnancy going if you are Hyper or Hypo Thyroid. Once you are pregnant, the OB will monitor your Thyroid levels very carefully as they can shift a lot due to the surge of hormones. It is possible that your Thyroid medication may need to be tweaked here or there during pregnancy for the safety of the baby.
Once I did my self-evaluation of health, I started to sloooooowly making some changes. Slow is key ladies; if you ease into changes, they won’t be such a big deal. For example, I love coffee. My body seems to feel like it “needs” coffee to get going in the morning. So, I took this one slow. I cut down from 3 to 2 cups then 2 to 1 cup over the period of about 4 months. My body never went into shock and it didn’t feel like I was depriving it of something it loves.

As far as eating goes, I’m an extremely healthy, organic, balanced eater and cook as is. I have always loved eating healthy and constantly finding new and fun ways to cook and enjoy healthy food. I eat a ton of fruit and veggies (lot’s of good greens on that list) and choose to drink water (sometimes with lemon) all day long vs. anything else. (Although I did like iced tea and that had to go along with my coffee). On this front I just chose to continue eating as I do but one major change I made was to allow myself to cheat a little more and not stress about it. Now you might be thinking…Sarah, seriously? That’s your big food change? I know it sounds silly and even annoying, but the truth is; in preparing to be pregnant you need to start to re-wire your brain. When you are pregnant you will not be trying to stay slim or loose weight or be obsessing over eating perfectly to stay at a certain weight or in those favorite skinny jeans of yours. Nope that whole neurotic mess we put ourselves through daily (come on we all do it) will need to go out the window for 9-10 months plus however long you choose to breastfeed (if you choose to). So…yep! I decided to chill the f-out on myself and if I felt like some ice cream or popcorn or indulging in a piece of bread dipped in olive oil before dinner, I would! Other than that…chef Sarah kept it about the same.

My fitness level was in pretty good standing but I made a deal with myself when we moved to Seattle in July (and I started on this process). The deal was that I was going to work hard to get my body as strong as I could (with in reason, ladies you can’t get pregnant with zero body fat) to hopefully house a growing human the best I could! Important areas I chose to try to work on were back and core strength (to carry all that extra weight around in front of me one day I was going to need it)! So I signed up at this amazing Pilates studio I discovered (LAB5 Fitness) on Broadway in Seattle owned by this sweet couple). The studio is a few blocks walking from my apt and they have amazing reformer classes with awesome instructors. Also, my hubby and I invested in our family health by purchasing an elliptical machine for our home. This way no matter what the weather is outside or what time it is (not limited by a gym) we could get our cardio in. So, I decided to get my tush moving and in just a couple of months I was shocked at the transformation. My body was more “ripped” than it’d been in years plus I was in a great place with my stamina on my cardio (this is VERY important while pregnant).

Like with all new habits sometimes we get a little extreme. I will note that my husband did pull me aside one day and ask me to chill out my working out just a bit because he was concerned I was over-doing it and we wouldn’t be able to conceive because of it. (He’s a physician and was speaking from a knowledgeable place and also a loving one). I listened and I chilled out a bit, which didn’t even show on my body at all, but I knew he was right. It’s not about killing yourself it’s about preparing your body for something truly special.

Folic Acid/Prenatal Vitamins:

Taking Folic Acid is one of the most important things you can do before TTC. Ideally you’ll give yourself about 3 month on it before you TTC. You can also start taking prenatal vitamins (which should contain folic acid) if you want to but you don’t have to. Just so long as you get your folic acid in.

The skinny on Folic Acid is this:  (Note: Check with your doctor before taking anything, always).
Folic acid is a pregnancy superhero! Taking a prenatal vitamin with the recommended 800 (mcg) of folic acid before and during pregnancy can help prevent birth defects of your baby’s brain and spinal cord. Folic acid, which is also called folate, is a B vitamin. Folic acid plays an important role in the production of red blood cells and helps your baby’s neural tube develop into his/her brain and spinal cord. Birth defects occur within the first 3-4 weeks of pregnancy. So it’s important to have folic acid in your system during those early stages when your baby’s brain and spinal cord are developing.

Getting Ready Mentally: great books to read and more!

Nerds are cool but PREGNANCY NERDS ARE HOT!

My husband calls me a “pregnancy nerd.” He says this with a look of pride and admiration. He’s an MD-PhD (and the coolest nerd on the planet). He says this not because it takes one to know one, but because it’s awesome to take this seriously and educate yourself before you start.

It’s totally true, I have become a complete nerd about our pregnancy and that started BEFORE we even conceived! I got my nerdy-on months before we “went for it.” Let me explain why; this (making a baby/being a mom) is in my world, the MOST important thing I have ever done and will ever do in life. So, I decided to learn as much about doing it as possible. This included what I needed to do before we “went for it”. It may come as a surprise to you that in fact there is a lot you can do before you start trying to conceive (TTC).

It’s my hope that I can make your journey a little easier by sharing what I learned, what I did and what I geeked out on along the way.

Picking your OB:

This is a very important relationship and you want to feel totally comfortable with this doctor, with the practice they are in and the hospital they deliver at.

If you have family or friends to ask for referrals then you’re lucky. For us, we’d just moved to a new city and didn’t know anyone so I had to do it on my own. The way I went about this was to start with my insurance and get a list of OB-gyn’s in my area. Then I googled the hospitals near us in Seattle that have Neonatal care. I personally do not want to give birth at a hospital that doesn’t have this. Here’s what you’re looking for.

So then I took the names of the OB-gyn’s that deliver at Swedish from my list and started looking them up online (this included yelp reviews). I spent hours and hours on this. I finally narrowed it down and realized that the top rated people covered by my insurance, in my area, that deliver at Swedish are ALL in the same practice! So, I called and started to try to get into someone there. Then, I asked the owner of my pilates studio who’s lived in Seattle forever and seems to know everything if she knew of anyone great. She then gave me a name of the OB-gyn that I now go to that was a part of this fabulous practice. Once you choose, I suggest you go make an appointment and start seeing this person right away for your pap and a little chat about TTC.

Let’s geek out:

I’m listing the books I loved and the order in which I suggest reading them. The first two I suggest reading before you TTC as there’s a lot of helpful information in there. Keep these books to go back to once you’re pregnant.

“Getting Ready to Get Pregnant: Your Complete Pregnancy guide to Making a Smart and Healthy Baby” by Michael C. LU, MD

“The Mother of all Pregnancy Books” by Ann Douglas

“Mayo Clinic Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy” From Doctors who are parents too

“The Girlfriends Guide To Pregnancy” by Vicki Iovine

“From The hips” by Rebecca Odes and Ceridwen Morris


Note: I will add to this list as I read more great books!