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  • 4 Ways to Use Leftover Baby Food

    Clever ideas to give new life to baby’s first foods.

    Article & Photo courtesy of Well Rounded NY

    What new parent can resist a great stock-up sale? After all, starting solids is an exciting step, and you want your little one to have the very best. However, what do you do with all that baby food when your little one doesn’t finish it, doesn’t tolerate it or just plain doesn’t want it? Here are a few ways you can repurpose that pantry full of purées.

    1. BODY SCRUB
    Start with:
     Happy Baby Mango Puré e
    Add:
    – Raw sugar
    – A couple drops of essential oils, like lemon and patchouli
    – Coconut oil (room temperature, doesn’t have to be liquid)
    Directions: Combine purée, coconut oil and essential oil into a small bowl until you get an applesauce-like consistency. Slowly add the sugar till desired texture is reached. Store in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to one week.

    Continue reading for more recipes!

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  • 5 Prenatal Exercise Myths Debunked

    Over the past three decades, research has shown an overwhelming benefits from exercise during pregnancy.  Unfortunately, when it comes to the specifics of exactly what type of exercise is safe or beneficial, the myths seem equally as overwhelming.  Here are some of the biggest myths explained to help you feel more confident about your ability to exercise for two!


    MYTH 1: If you were not a regular exerciser before, pregnancy is not the time to start.

    REALITY: The benefits of exercise during pregnancy are substantial – including decreased risk of gestational diabetes, fewer pains and complications during pregnancy, a potential easier labor, and a faster recovery.  Exercise during pregnancy has even been shown to improve your growing baby’s heart and brain development!  In fact, the benefits are so great that the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) now recommends that pregnant women get at least 30 minutes per day of moderate intensity exercise on most, if not all, days of the week. If you were not a regular exerciser prior to your pregnancy, start with simple activities at a moderate intensity that don’t require a big learning curve (walking is a GREAT one!).


    MYTH 2: When exercising, you should avoid getting your heart rate up over 140 beats per minute.

    REALITY: If you’ve heard this one, this is actually an outdated guideline from 1985 when very limited research existed about exercise during pregnancy.  This guideline was actually eliminated in 1994 after research proved that heart rate is NOT an appropriate gauge of exercise intensity when you are pregnant.  This is because there are so many other things going on in your body that cause fluctuations in your heart rate, so your heart rate is often not a true measure of how you really feel.  Today, the official ACOG guideline encourages pregnant women to exercise at a level that feels “moderate” to “slightly hard.”  This level is obviously very different for every woman, and will vary for you throughout your pregnancy.  The best way to gauge the appropriate intensity for your own body is to stay within a range where you feel you could still complete a full sentence out loud.  You don’t want to feel completely breathless.  So ignore those heart rate monitors and start listening to your body instead.  Odds are, if it feels OK, then it is OK!


    MYTH 3: You shouldn’t work your abs during pregnancy

    REALITY: This could not be further from the truth!  On the contrary, proper core training is one of the best things you can do to help alleviate back pain during pregnancy and prepare your body for an easier labor and faster recovery.  The key is to make sure you’re doing the right type of abdominal work.  After your first trimester, avoid exercises lying on your back, and those involving any bending or twisting of your torso (i.e. sit-ups, bicycles, oblique curls, etc.), as these exercises place too much pressure on your external abdominal wall, which already has enough pressure on it from your growing belly! Focus instead on strengthening your innermost abdominal muscle (transverse abdominis, or “TVA”), as this is the muscle that supports your back, and the muscle you use to push your baby out.  Your TVA is strengthened through the action of drawing your belly button into your spine.  One of the best exercises to target this muscle is a simple “TVA Hold.”  To learn how to perform the TVA hold, as well as other beneficial core exercises, see these 7 Moves for A Stronger Core.


    MYTH 4: You should completely avoid running or any higher intensity activity

    REALITY: Despite what you may have heard, you cannot “shake” your baby out of you!  As long as you do not have any joint or ligament issues, higher intensity exercises like running or interval training are typically fine to continue for as long as it feels comfortable.  If you were an avid runner or very athletic prior to your pregnancy, you may find you are able to continue your usual routine for a while into your pregnancy.  Just keep in mind that due to the increased amount of “relaxin” in your body (a hormone that makes you less stable in your hip and pelvic area), and your changing center of gravity from your growing belly, it becomes especially important to ensure you are using proper form.  You may also need to decrease your speed and range of motion.  Finally, as you progress through your pregnancy, your body will be working harder and harder on its own, so you will naturally feel the need to dial down your intensity level.  In short, as long as you follow the #1 most important rule of prenatal exercise, which is to LISTEN TO YOUR BODY (avoid exercising at a level where you feel breathless, and stop if you feel any pain, experience any bleeding, etc), you will be fine.  Your body is programmed to deliver a healthy baby and it will tell you if something you are doing is not safe.  


    MYTH 5: You should avoid strength training to prevent injury or joint pain

    REALITY: Actually, NOT doing any strength training is more likely to lead to aches, pains, pulled muscles, and even injuries.  Proper strength has been shown to decrease maternal exhaustion during labor by 75%, and decrease the need for a C-section or forceps by 50%.  It also prepares your body for the many physical demands of motherhood.  The most important muscles to focus on are your innermost abdominal muscle (see #3!), your pelvic floor (to prevent incontinence), your buttocks (to help support your back), your legs (for the many demands of motherhood), and the backside of your upper body (mid/upper back and backs of shoulders) to counteract the rounded-forward pull that often happens from the weight of your growing breasts and nursing.  Just remember that given the increased levels of the hormone “relaxin” in your body (which makes you less stable in the pelvic area), and your changing center of gravity caused from your growing belly, always prioritize proper form and alignment over heavier weights.  If needed, consult with a personal trainer, or even You Tube!  Also, try to choose exercises that keep your pelvis in a more stable position vs. unstable moves like deep lunges. This is why squats are one of the best prenatal exercise moves.  They strengthen all the most important muscles, keep your pelvis in a stable position, and heads up… you’ll be doing a lot of them as a mom!

    Medical Disclaimer:  This information is for healthy pregnant women with no complications or risk factors.  This content is for informational purposes only and not intended to offer medical advice.  Always consult with your doctor first before beginning any exercise program.

    ____

    Written by Brittany Citron, a certified personal trainer and group fitness instructor, and a pre/postnatal exercise specialist. She is also the founder of PROnatal Fitness,  which offers prenatal and postpartum group fitness classes, personal training, and Diastasis Recti rehabilitation — all developed with input from experts in the fitness, medical, and healthcare fields.

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  • Nine Naturals Ingredient Story: Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract

    At Nine Naturals, we’re on a mission to make beauty simple, smart and safe for moms and moms-to-be. Integral to that is understanding our ingredients’ science and benefits. Today’s Nine Naturals Ingredient Story, featuring Aloe Leaf Extract, is part of an ongoing series featuring the natural, plant-based ingredients behind our high performance beauty products.

    Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract (Aloe), is best known for its use as a topical treatment, but its healing powers go far beyond its popular role as a medicinal ointment. With its cactus-like spikes, the aloe plant may look fierce, but the gel found on the inside is gentle and revitalizing. Aloe extract boasts a long history as a multipurpose remedy, as far back as 2000 BC Mesopotamia. Aloe is commonly used worldwide and across cultures, with roots that trace back to ancient times. Legend has it that Cleopatra fondly used aloe leaf extract to keep her skin smooth and soft.

    The Aloe Plant

    Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract comes from the green leaves of the aloe plant. The genus of aloe contains approximately 500 plants, and “true aloe,” or aloe vera, is the most well-known and cultivated. The succulent plant is often grown ornamentally, but many keep aloe plants for their verdant beauty as well as their at-home healing properties. Aloe leaf extract is a breeze to remove from the plant. Simply clip one of its leaves and gently squeeze out the gel. Aloe leaves grow from the inside, creating a layered effect. When clipping, choose the leaves on the very outside of the plant to harvest, as these are the most mature. The gel can be applied to the skin, straight from the frond. If your hectic mother-to-be schedule keeps you up and running, you can also save gel from an aloe plant for future use in an airtight container for up to one week at room temperature, or slightly cooler.

    The Science of Aloe Leaf Extract

    Aloe Leaf Extract consists primary of water - in fact, 99% water. But the other 1% is where the powerhouse healing properties reside. The transparent gel is made up of many active components, including necessary vitamins, minerals, sugars, enzymes, lignins, amino acids, anthraquinones, saponins, fatty acids, and salicylic acid. All of these components work to make aloe a highly restorative extract, with each ingredient performing different functions. For example, glycoproteins speed the healing process by stopping pain. Polysaccharides stimulate skin growth and repair. Amino acids and uronic acids detox cells. Fatty acids are anti-inflammatory. Aloe leaf extract has many uses for personal care.

    Aloe Leaf Extract’s Benefits for Skin and Hair Care

    For mild burns and abrasions, aloe leaf extract is one the most-used natural remedies. But, the gel has so many other benefits beyond the healing variety. Aloe contains aloin, which can help protect skin from UV damage. It’s extensive array of vitamins -  including A, B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B12, C, E, choline and folic acid - rejuvenates aged tissue, purifies pores, and promotes healthy skin. Aloe gel also acts as a moisturizing agent, restoring suppleness to the skin. With an ever-changing pregnant body, retaining moisture and elasticity is key, and aloe leaf extract will help your skin feeling soft and smooth. Aloe leaf extract can also be used directly on the skin as a shave gel or a makeup remover.

    Why Nine Naturals Loves Aloe Leaf Extract

    Pregnancy is a time when we moms-to-be need all the self-care we can get, which is why we love using the ultra-soothing aloe leaf extract in our products. What better way to find calm than a peaceful bump massage with our Vanilla & Geranium Replenishing Belly Butter, with aloe leaf extract? While these luxurious moments of tranquility are imperative while you’re expecting, aloe’s comforting properties can relax and restore us in our every-day routines too, with our Citrus & Mint Nourishing Shampoo & Conditioner, and Citrus & Geranium Body Wash.  

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  • Why We Should Avoid Microbeads

    For the past decade, “microbeads” have been ubiquitous in the world of personal care products; these round, plastic particles are an exfoliation ingredient in everything from toothpastes to facial scrubs.

    Unfortunately, because of their tiny size, they wash right down the drain, through wastewater filtration systems and, finally, into lakes, rivers and oceans. There, they harm the marine animals that mistake the beads for food and humans often eat these fish who have consumed microbeads, ingesting plastic and the harmful toxins therein. Public water utilities filter and treat water to remove impurities before it is sent to our faucets. However, these processes often do not remove microbeads. In short, microbeads are far from the friendly little scrubbers they’ve been made out to be. In fact, by the end of 2015, 8 trillion microbeads were entering America’s aquatic habitats each day. (That’s enough to cover the surface area of 300 tennis courts.)

    In response to environmental advocacy efforts, President Obama signed the Microbead-Free Waters Act of 2015 on December 28th, 2015. The bipartisan bill prohibits the manufacture and distribution of microbeads – defined as any plastic particle smaller than five millimeters in diameter— and hundreds of personal care brands will need to phase them out of their products by July 1, 2017, when the bill’s enforcement will take effect.  In the meantime, you can get a jump-start on solving the microbead problem by avoiding any products that contain the harmful pellets. (The International Campaign Against Microbeads in Cosmetics has compiled a list of these products here.)

    The easiest way to avoid products that are harmful to the environment and to you is to choose brands that avoid those ingredients for you, opting for all-natural, plant-based options.  This is why we created Nine Naturals’ line of pregnancy-safe body care products provide for luxurious (and safe) showering, nourishing your skin and hair and keeping your baby and the planet healthy, too.

    Our Citrus + Geranium Soothing Pregnancy Body Wash keeps skin clean and fresh with natural surfactants (no microbeads here!), and avocado oil and cupuaçu butter soften and moisturize even the driest, stretched skin, keeping it soft and supple. (Your growing belly will thank you.) Gentle enough for daily use during pregnancy in bath or shower, this creamy body wash –like all Nine Naturals products–is sulfate-free, paraben-free, phthalate-free, BPA-free, triclosan-free, DEA-free, petrochemical-free and contains no artificial chemicals, dyes or synthetic fragrances. When it comes to personal care during pregnancy and beyond, as well as protecting the planet, it’s a win-win.

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  • 4 Steps to Fight Morning Sickness – From Nine Naturals + healthy mama® Brand

    While pregnant, most women experience uncomfortable symptoms such as tenderness, nausea, fatigue, cravings, and increased urination.  That is why Nine Naturals is excited to partner with Healthy Mama to bring you helpful tips on how to fight common symptoms, so you can have a happy, healthy pregnancy.

    While many suggest that morning sickness might be a good sign that the baby is growing and healthy, let’s face it–feeling pregnancy nausea is miserable. Most experts agree that this common symptom, which affects 70% of pregnant women, is caused by the surge of hormones brought on by pregnancy. Most get relief after the first trimester when hormone levels have evened out a bit, but about 20% continue to feel nauseated throughout the whole nine months.

    Feeling like you have the stomach bug for months feels awful and can suck the joy out of having a baby all together. Here are Nine Naturals’ and healthy mama®’s top tips for avoiding and treating morning sickness.

    1. Start Strong.

    Before getting out of bed in the morning, you may want to eat a light snack–think a few Saltine crackers–and get up slowly. Feel free to sit on the side of the bed for a few minutes before standing up. Don’t start moving around on an eight-hour empty stomach because it can bring nausea on strong. Despite its name, morning sickness can strike at any time of day or night, that’s why many moms-to-be even stash a snack on their nightstands.

    1. Stay Hydrated.

    Drink fluids often during the day to stay hydrated. Eight glasses a day may be hard when you’re feeling woozy but remember: dehydration will only make the problem worse. The colder the drink, the easier it’ll be to get down. Try Healthy Mama’s refreshing Boost it Up! Caffeine Free Protein Anti-Nausea Energy Drinkwhich is packed with protein, B-vitamins, fiber, ginger and electrolytes to help fight nausea. This drink was developed by nutritionists to be 100% safe during pregnancy, is OBGYN-recommended, and endorsed by the American Pregnancy Association.

    1. Eat Right & Try Ginger.

    Eat smaller, more frequent meals and avoid fatty foods — they’re hard to digest. Foods and drinks with ginger can help too. For many centuries, ginger has been used in traditional Asian, Indian and Arabic medicine to help alleviate digestive problems, including nausea. Modern research, too, indicates that the root’s volatile oils and pungent phenol compounds, such as gingerols and shogaols, can in fact relieve stomach upset. Boost It Up! and Nip the Nausea use ginger as a key ingredient. Nip the Nausea! 100% Organic drops fit easily in your purse so you can take them with you wherever you go! And launching in February is the much anticipated Nip the Nausea! organic morning sickness capsules containing amounts of ginger and vitamin B6 clinically proven to help eliminate morning sickness without the drowsiness of drug options.

    1. Enjoy Aromatic Fragrances.

    Certain odors may trigger your gag reflex, since your sense of smell is heightened during pregnancy. If specific odors consistently bother you, you can try to minimize your exposure to them or avoid them altogether. Switching to all natural beauty products can help you reduce your exposure to chemical fragrances (as well as other additives that can harm you and your growing baby). Nine Naturals products are all-natural and free of synthetic fragrances; in fact, their light, natural fragrances utilize principles of aromatherapy especially for pregnant women. Nine Naturals’ Citrus + Mint Nourishing Shampoo and Conditioner, Vanilla + Geranium Regenerative Belly Butter, and Mandarin + Ginger Restorative Conditioner are all made with pure essential oils known to boost energy, lift moods, and relieve nausea.

    Morning sickness is definitely not one of pregnancy’s main perks, but with a little bit of proactive planning — and a few helpful products to help you along — you’ll be feeling better, and gorgeously glowing, in no time.

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  • Winter Glow: Top Relaxation Tips

    Outside the last amber colored leaves have fallen to the ground and the autumn rain has turned to snow, while inside the thermostat is slowly rising and the fireplace is ablaze – the winter season is upon us in all its frost-covered glory. Being pregnant during this joyous time of year can be magical (especially for those that get to share in your excitement), but it can also be stressful and exhausting. Here are Nine Naturals’ top tips to sneak must-needed relaxation into your day:

    1. Make a spa.

      Relaxing in a warm bath (versus a shower) is a common form of hydrotherapy (also known as water therapy) where heated water dilates blood vessels, thus increasing blood flow to aching muscles. Create a spa-like environment in your own bathroom by dimming the lights, turning on your favorite easy listening playlist, and soaking in a tub filled with warm water and a few drops of Nine Naturals Citrus + Geranium Soothing Pregnancy Body Wash. The lemon, lime and geranium essential oils will help harmonize emotions and hormones–DIY aromatherapy!

      1. Get comfy.

      Whether it be for leisure, work, play, or rest, you’ll want to feel comfortable and confident. Don’t sacrifice comfort for style. Some of favorite versatile piece for any occasion are the breathable Belly Bandit B.D.A. Leggings, which provide pelvic and back support by snuggly cradling your burgeoning belly; the chic, navy Au Lait Nursing Tank, which works both pre-and post-baby; and a cozy, neutral-colored duster cardigan, which compliments most looks!

      1. Take a Breather.

      Step away from your desk at lunchtime and step into the downward dog position by attending a prenatal yoga class, which can decrease pregnancy-related aches and pains, while also increasing flexibility and strength needed during childbirth. Ease into the poses, breathe deeply and allow your body to release tension with each asana change. Post-class, refresh your hair with a dusting of organic dry shampoo and refresh your body with a swipe (or two) of Nine Naturals Unscented Pregnancy Deodorant, which contains non-nano zinc oxide to naturally control odor-causing bacteria. Armpits need to breathe too!

      1. Let Loose.

      Getting together with friends during the winter months can prove challenging as weekends fill up quickly, so suggest meeting up with your closest girlfriends for a Sunday morning (herbal) tea party. Reserve a table in a nearby upscale hotel restaurant and instruct all attendees to don their finest garb. Wearing your favorite figure flattering dress–we love the Ingrid & Isabel Empire Shirred Dress (in pinot)– a sexy kitten heel, and a versatile scarf–try the Shopburu Minona Camera Scarf. Toast to your gal pals’ health, happiness, and success for the year to come.   

      Make rest and relaxation as much a priority as your work obligations, home to-do’s, and holiday errands this season, and for the remainder of your pregnancy.
      Win the ultimate winter glow relaxation pack including Nine Naturals, Belly Bandit, Au Lait, Ingrid + Isabel, and Shopburu here:

      NINE NATURALS WINTER PREGNANCY GLOW GIVEAWAY:

      WEEK 3 RELAX & GLOW

       

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