Mama tea

tea during pregnancy, postpartum, breastfeeding and during menstruation. All the mama tea's on www.houseofsmilla.com/blog/mamateas - Motherhood and slow living blog by Eva-Maria Smith 
tea during pregnancy, postpartum, breastfeeding and during menstruation. All the mama tea's on www.houseofsmilla.com/blog/mamateas - Motherhood and slow living blog by Eva-Maria Smith
tea during pregnancy, postpartum, breastfeeding and during menstruation. All the mama tea's on www.houseofsmilla.com/blog/mamateas - Motherhood and slow living blog by Eva-Maria Smith
tea during pregnancy, postpartum, breastfeeding and during menstruation. All the mama tea's on www.houseofsmilla.com/blog/mamateas - Motherhood and slow living blog by Eva-Maria Smith
tea during pregnancy, postpartum, breastfeeding and during menstruation. All the mama tea's on www.houseofsmilla.com/blog/mamateas - Motherhood and slow living blog by Eva-Maria Smith
tea during pregnancy, postpartum, breastfeeding and during menstruation. All the mama tea's on www.houseofsmilla.com/blog/mamateas - Motherhood and slow living blog by Eva-Maria Smith

During the last stretch of my first pregnancy, I drank tons of red raspberry leaf tea, mixed with alfalfa and rose hips for good measure. I had heard about the benefits and firmly believed, that if I just drink enough of it, I will have the smooth, gentle birth I hoped for.

Well, I will never find out, if the tea had anything to do with it, but I did have a very gentle, basically tear-free,  unmedicated vaginal birth in the comfort of my own home. I do think herbs are powerful. In history, they have proved themselves as wonderful healing agents time and time again. Even, if the tea made no physical difference for me - it certainly had a placebo effect then. Just making the tea every night, drinking it throughout the day, sending out positive thoughts about my birth out to the universe, surely was a nice ritual in these last few weeks. If nothing else, it was a peaceful ritual and a good practice in mindfulness.

In the meantime, I had the privilege to learn more about the healing power of herbs. Last summer, I went on a very educating herb walk. It made me realize that most of us completely lost this deep connection with nature and how collecting, drying and using common herbs can be so beneficial. I bought this book by Maria Treben (highly recommend) and used it as a guide several times throughout the year. 

I wish, I would have collected all these herbs you see in the photographs above myself, but I didn't make nearly enough time to go out there and search and collect. Sad, really. Instead, I bought these from a reputable local source and bought them all in organic quality. If you would like to order herbs for yourself I can recommend this place, as well as this. 

I wish I could give you a detailed recipe of how I mix my pregnancy brew. However, I'm very spontaneous about it every day. A good rule of thumb would be one oz of each ingredient, maybe a bit less of the Alfalfa (due to its strong grassy flavor). I try different combinations, flavors and amounts and get quite experimental. More importantly though, I will let my tea infuse over night - instead of just steeping it for a few minutes. To get the full benefits, I recommended brewing it full and strong and nutrient-dense. I will drink my tea sweetened with raw honey, rice syrup or agave. These last few days, I have been adding fresh lemon juice and bit of sugar (just the way my grandmother Margarete drank her earl grey) and it is so tasty. For a creamier version, I suggest adding a bit of honey and warm coconut milk. 

I called this post "mama tea" and not pregnancy tea, because certain herbs I'm going to list, I drink during breastfeeding to boost my supply and to soothe baby's tummy. Really I should call it "women teas" though, because most of these herbs have healing properties throughout our cycles. "Mama tea" just sounded really nice to me. 

So these are the herbs I'm currently using for my tea:

Red Raspberry Leaf (Rubus Idaeus). The mother of all pregnancy herbs I believe. Raspberry leaves are rich in fructose, pectic, malic acid, silicon, carotene, magnesium, manganese, selenium, favanoids, vitamins C and B2 and can also help a lot with vitamin D absorption. It is known amongst herbalists as a uterine tonic and supposedly prepares the body for birth. During labor, it is believed to help bring on contractions more effectively, making birth easier and faster. This study from Australia, supports this believe and also claims, that women consuming red raspberry leaf during pregnancy were less inclined to have c-sections, forceps- or vacuum extractions. 

Nettle Leaf (Urtica Dioica). Stinging nettles are easy to be found, harvested and dried, or even used fresh in recipes ranging from egg dishes to soups. Nettle is rich in micronutrients like carotene, vitamin C, manganese, iron, calcium and zinc. It really is great for your entire system, wether you are expecting or not. However, particularly during pregnancy it can help with leg cramps, headaches and edema. Nettle is also rich in vitamin K. Low levels of vitamin K are linked with bleeding and hemorrhage. It is therefore believed that nettle prevents tearing of the vaginal tissue. Also, breastfeeding mamas, nettle is known to promote milk supply.

Alfalfa (Medicago Sativa). To be honest, it tastes a lot like hay. So when I read, it is referred to as "holy hay" in some cultures I wasn't surprised. A friend of mine lovingly calls it my "horse tea". Like nettle, Alfalfa is a general restorative herb packed with calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, iron, as well as vitamins B, C and K. Latter making it a great herb to help prevent bleeding and hemorrhage. I've also heard once, that it works as a good sleep aid. Who wouldn't want that during pregnancy? 

Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis). Lemon balm is used to help with nervousness, the digestive system, as well as headaches. My love for lemon balm lies in its fresh, slightly lemon-like flavor that nicely balances out the heavy, strong greens mentioned above.

Rose Hip (Rosa Pomifera). Like lemon balm, rose hips adds a nice flavor to my tea. I'd describe it as a light tartness. Rosehips are very rich in vitamin C, making it a great add-on to absorb the iron from the nettles and alfalfa. 

Rose Buds (Rosa). Wikipedia mentions the vitamin C benefit, once again. Honestly though, I add it for flavor, color and simply because seeing and touching the rose buds brings me tremendous happiness.

Caraway (Cuminum). Fennel (Foeniculum Vulgaris). Anis (Pimpinella Anisum). This combination is the perfect tea for your breastfeeding journey. 2-3 cups a day are said to enhance your milk supply, while simultaneously hydrating you and (for some mamas the best part I'm sure) relieving gas and belly cramps of the baby. In Germany you can commonly get "Stilltee" ("Breastfeeding tea bags") at the supermarket, that contain these three herbs. However, bought in bulk is much more affordable and sustainable. 

Lastly, I want to stress  that you should consume herbs with care. Do your own research. There are wonderful books on the market. You could also talk to a Certified Herbalist. Herbs are powerful medicine, but they can come with disadvantages. While some believe pregnancy teas (especially red raspberry leaf) is safe during your entire pregnancy, I can not vouch for that. I usually start drinking a few cups a day in my third trimester and particularly after 36 weeks gestation or so. 

 

(Please keep in mind that I am not a doctor or other health professional so please consult the appropriate professional before making any changes to your diet, health, or other applicable areas)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The end of a journey // The beginning of a journey

a simpler, slower, kinder life blog by Eva-Maria Smith www.houseofsmilla.com/blog motherhood. Lifestyle photography
a simpler, slower, kinder life blog by Eva-Maria Smith www.houseofsmilla.com/blog motherhood. Lifestyle photography
a simpler, slower, kinder life blog by Eva-Maria Smith www.houseofsmilla.com/blog motherhood. Lifestyle photography
a simpler, slower, kinder life blog by Eva-Maria Smith www.houseofsmilla.com/blog motherhood. Lifestyle photography
a simpler, slower, kinder life blog by Eva-Maria Smith www.houseofsmilla.com/blog motherhood. Lifestyle photography

I have a notebook full of ideas. In the past weeks, I have been snapping away and taking notes to share writings about pregnancy tea's and hospital bags. In due time, these posts will surely be written. Tonight however, I feel like writing a very honest account of what it feels like for me, to have my second pregnancy journey slowly coming to an end.

The thing is, when a pregnancy ends, a new story just begins and so it is both a time of mourning and ultimate joy.

To be pregnant is to be vitally alive, thoroughly woman, and distressingly inhabited.  Soul and spirit are stretched - along with body - making pregnancy a time of transition, growth, and profound beginnings.  ~Anne Christian Buchanan and Debra K. Kingsporn, The Quickening Heart: A Journal for Expectant Mothers

Every day I find myself surprised at the fact, that only a few weeks, 21 days as of today (until the estimated due date) remain. Every morning that I wake up and prepare breakfast for me and my daughter brings me closer to meeting my son. I am not only in a state of pleasant excitement about meeting this little creature, but also in one of slight worry about how this new life will be like. Will it feel very organic to be a family of four? While my love will surely expand, will my attention and focus, too? Will this new being find its way into this world easily and be a good eater and sleeper? And how am I supposed to have dinner ready every night?

On one hand I can barely remember what it was like to feel the pains of postpartum recovery and the hurtful beginnings of every breastfeeding journey. I have moments where I feel I have forgotten all the wisdoms that came with my first child birth and postpartum period. At the same time, I feel this innate certainty that I will know exactly what to do this time around. It's like riding a bicycle.  Isn't it? 

Whereas the preparations for my daughter's birth were basically completed at this point and I literally did nothing but sit around, relax and enjoy this beautiful life inside my belly; with this child, I am still completely engulfed in the adventures of the everyday. 

Surely, I'll get around to packing my in-case-of-emergency hospital bag this week. Maybe tomorrow I'll sew the newborn blanket, for which I bought the wonderful organic fabrics months ago. Oh yes, I should stock up on candles for the home birth and also it would be nice to finish the books I have started reading and re-reading from my first pregnancy.

Emotionally I'm somewhere between "I feel stressed, because there are only a few weeks left and there is so much that I haven't done" and "No worries, there's plenty of time still". Concern and deep inner peace are co-existing in my soul these days. 

The same goes for birth itself. There are moments where I feel, with an astounding certainty that I will give birth to this child with ease, trust and the confidence of someone who has birthed before. Then, in some moments, my "thinking" brain chimes in and lectures me about the uncertainty of birth and I quickly have to distract myself, as I do not wish to fill myself up with worry and doubt and fear.

Again, feeling this way is surely natural, as I find myself both at the end of a journey and at the beginning of a journey. 

For now, I keep getting up every morning and going about my day. Trying to get a few things done. More importantly though, trying to slow down and enjoy these last precious days of carrying this child under my heart. 

The beauty of childbirth is, that no one but the baby knows its birthday. The people close to me, know that I am a major planner, always on time, always a notebook/a planner on hand. Surprises and unforeseen events frazzle me and I can not say I enjoy anything too spontaneous. For some odd reason though, I find waiting for a child to arrive, counting the days to the estimated due date, not knowing when the new life will make its appearance, very thrilling. I can full-heartedly accept the fact that I can't put my son's birthdate in my planner. It is an uncertain time, but a happy time for me. For my impatient self, it has been the only wait that is quite enjoyable, in the most indescribable way.

 

 

A simple maternity wardrobe for fall & winter

minimalist wardrobe. minimalist maternity wardrobe. fall & winter maternity style. www.houseofsmilla.com/blog a simpler, slower, kinder life blog by Eva-Maria Smith 
minimalist wardrobe. minimalist maternity wardrobe. fall & winter maternity style. www.houseofsmilla.com/blog a simpler, slower, kinder life blog by Eva-Maria Smith 
minimalist wardrobe. minimalist maternity wardrobe. fall & winter maternity style. www.houseofsmilla.com/blog a simpler, slower, kinder life blog by Eva-Maria Smith 
minimalist wardrobe. minimalist maternity wardrobe. fall & winter maternity style. www.houseofsmilla.com/blog a simpler, slower, kinder life blog by Eva-Maria Smith 
minimalist wardrobe. minimalist maternity wardrobe. fall & winter maternity style. www.houseofsmilla.com/blog a simpler, slower, kinder life blog by Eva-Maria Smith 

When I first found out I was pregnant I immediately planned to share my ideal maternity wardrobe with you. Luckily though, because of horrible time management, I never got around to writing about all the wonderful things I was going to buy for myself. Luckily, because now I know it takes hardly anything to feel and look great during this season of change. 

During my first pregnancy I had definitely made the mistake that I would purchase cute maternity items here and there. Nothing matched. Nothing worked together. The clothes kept accumulating, while I was in sort of a "I have nothing to wear that looks good"-frenzy. 

This time, I focused on what is important when you are growing a baby in the winter months:

Do feel warm.

Do feel comfortable.

Do feel cozy.

Do feel like yourself. 

Don't try too hard.

Don't waste money.

Don't waste resources.

Don't worry - you look beautiful.

To be honest, there are not too many great makers of sustainable maternity clothes out there (at least I didn't find them). A lot of the conventional manufacturers of maternity styles are either very pricey, or very bad quality - chances are, they are both. So, due to lack of choices and not without frustration my wardrobe started out with mostly items, that I have already had. Soon I realized though, that this, plus a few basics is really all I need to feel good and the desire to shop for maternity clothes started to go away altogether. 

To give you an idea about what my wardrobe consisted of these past months let me break it up a little:

Bottoms: There are two types of pregnant women. One, stays flat for a very long time, using rubber bands around their jeans buttons for months and months. The other type - me included - looks absolutely bloated and super pregnant right away and just can't stand any tightness around the belly, therefore immediately looking for a more comfortable option. So right after my pregnancy was confirmed I invested in two pairs of maternity jeans. One skinny, one boyfriend. I bought them both at H&M, which may not be the best choice in terms of sustainability I realize, but I knew from my first pregnancy that they fit me well. Sure enough, I wore them every day until my hips grew too wide for the skinny jeans. I also have gone through two pairs of maternity leggings so far (the first pair, finally tore after wearing it constantly all the way into the third trimester). I still had several maternity stockings in storage from my first pregnancy (I had way over-shopped then), that I still never really ended up wearing. For extra warmth, especially during snow days, I use wool over knees and wool boot socks to keep me comfortable. 

Tops: My obsession with comfy cardigans definitely paid off this pregnancy. I had accumulated several very cozy knit cardigans over the past couple of seasons and so my go-to outfit has been leggings or skinny jeans, a tank top (I have two regular tank tops that I already owned that stretched out very well with my growing belly and still fit comfortably) and wonderfully soft cardigan thrown on top. My beloved cardigans also work wonderfully to layer with my two maternity dresses (one I had kept from pregnancy no 1 and one I acquired new). In addition to those dresses, my sister passed down two more dresses to me. These are non-maternity, but fit a belly just beautifully and the both of us have worn them through four pregnancies combined now. Talk about an eco-friendly option! She also passed down two or three neutral maternity long sleeves, that I could mix and match with. So, always ask family and friends what they could possibly share with you and after you welcome your beautiful baby be sure to pass on your own maternity styles to mamas in need. Really, I only ended up buying one maternity blouse and one nicer maternity dress for special occasions and both buys I could have probably done without. 

Sleepwear: I usually wear this old silk tank I love, that I have bought back a few years ago and some wider, stretchier PJ pants. The top is getting a bit snug now, but I don't have much longer to go. During my first pregnancy I had invested in a nightgown that I wore during pregnancy and the months of nursing and I brought it back out this time around. It is not a maternity piece, just a regular nightgown bought one size up. 

Outerwear: As it turns out my winter jacket from last year fits over my belly still. I got lucky there. But on milder days, I just wear a real heavy and thick wool coat, that is meant to wear open and let my belly peak out of it. Together with hats, gloves and scarves that I have laying around I always kept warm and felt appropriately dressed this winter.

To sum it up, I would advise first time mamas, who have eco-friendliness in mind, to only invest in high quality basics, ask around, shop on used clothes sites (always a great option for maternity!) and buy new items only as needed. The excitement of expecting a little one can easily lead to frantic shopping trips, but chances are you already own most of watch you need. If you don't, maybe your husband or boyfriend does! A friend on Instagram recommended to shop for cute, belly accommodating winter sweaters at the men's department, but instead I went through my husbands wardrobe every now and again to borrow a loose sweater. He doesn't mind and it actually looks quite cute ;)