Category Archives: Lifestyle

My Birth Story

Our daughter, Joey Jiyoon Wray-Choi, is finally here, and she came into this world late but very quickly through unmedicated birth. This is my birth story…

my birth story - seconds after birth

It’s been 3 weeks since I gave birth to our daughter, and I’m finally ready to share my birth story. I want to share the details of this amazing and super intense experience while it’s still fresh in my mind, because I’m afraid I’ll forget it if I wait any longer! They say you forget the pain and the details of the birth as time passes, and I want to remember as much as I can through this post.

Preparing For Natural Birth

When I first found out that I was pregnant, I knew I wanted to give birth naturally and unmedicated. I have nothing against any other kinds of births and decisions other women make, and I think everyone should make their own personal choices based on their needs and priorities.

For me, the more I read and learned about epidurals and induction hormones, I realized I was more scared about the side effects of these interventions than the labor pain itself. I also don’t react well to medications, so this was the choice I made.

I decided that while I can’t fully control what my birth experience will be like, I can prepare as best as I can for natural birth. I did this by:

  • switching my insurance so I can give birth at a local birth center instead of a hospital
  • taking the online Hypnobabies course
  • watching positive and beautiful birth videos to remove any fear about giving birth
  • educating myself on what to expect from doctors and nurses in case I had to give birth at a hospital so I can be firm on what I wanted during my labor

However, through it all, I tried to flexible with my expectations, because you really can’t predict or control what happens.

My Water Broke… Maybe?

It was at 4am on Tuesday, September 17, 2019, when I woke up because my underwear was damp. I was 41 weeks and 3 days by this point, and I was getting anxious the week leading up to this day because of how late I was. I couldn’t give birth at the birth center after I hit 42 weeks, and I would have had to be induced at the hospital. This is why I was really excited when I saw that my water had broken that morning.

41 weeks pregnant
This is me at 41 weeks pregnant and getting impatient!

It wasn’t a rush of water like you see in the movies, just a slow trickle that made me think that it might just be pee. However, I was 80% sure that it was my water breaking after seeing that it was clear.

I tried to go back to sleep, but couldn’t, and called the midwife. She told me to hang out at home until my contractions were 1 minute long and 5 minutes apart.

All day, I patiently waited for my contractions to get stronger, but they didn’t. They only felt like period cramps with inconsistent frequency. I was starting to doubt that my water had actually broken, because I was just feeling a small trickle here and there throughout the day.

Castor Oil For Inducing Labor

Around 4pm, I was getting impatient and a bit nervous. If I didn’t give birth within 24 hours of my water breaking, I had to be transferred to the hospital to be induced and I wanted to avoid that as best as possible.

While I’ve heard of mixed reviews about taking castor oil to naturally induce labor, I decided to take it after the midwives told me that it’s fine to do so at that point. I was still a bit nervous about how intense it can be on the body so I took half a dose (2 tablespoons).

At 6pm, my contractions still weren’t getting stronger and I wasn’t feeling any effects of the castor oil, and that’s when my midwife called to check up on me. She said that maybe my water didn’t break, and that I should come into the birth center to make sure. At this point, I was accepting the fact that maybe I wasn’t in labor and I was mistaken about my water breaking. I was actually a bit annoyed that I had to go in when it was probably a false alarm.

Off to the Birth Center

My husband and I ate dinner with my parents, packed our car in preparation to go into labor (even though I was convinced I wasn’t), and started driving. My parents stayed back and said they’ll come if I do end up having the baby that night. As soon as I got in the car around 8pm, the contractions started getting stronger and they definitely did NOT feel like period cramps anymore.

Once we got there 40 minutes later, it was actually getting hard for me to breathe from the pain and physically walk in from the parking lot into the birth center.

Discouraging Cervical Exam

Once I finally got to the birth center and got a cervical exam, I found out that my water had indeed broken, but I was only 1-2cm dilated. This was disappointing because I was starting to have some pretty severe pains. The midwife explained that I had to be transferred to the hospital if I don’t progress by 4am, and suggested that I try to walk around and take another round of castor oil. She then took my husband and I to a birth room and encouraged me to eat something.

However, I didn’t end up doing any of those things she suggested, because things progressed crazy fast soon after.

The Most Painful Contractions!

As soon as we got settled into the room, SH** GOT REAL. I started having the most excruciatingly painful contractions that came at full force out of nowhere. I couldn’t walk, talk, breathe, or even think through them. All I could do was lay in a fetal position on the bed and tighten into a ball as the contractions came. I was actually shaking violently every time they hit, and Charlie, my husband, said he’s never heard me scream that loud, although I do not remember this at all.

A birth assistant came in to help me breathe through the pain, and she was so amazing in keeping me calm and a bit comforted throughout it. I remember telling her at one point, “You gotta give me something for the pain,” although I only half meant it.

Every time a contraction ended, I remember being terrified about the next one coming.

Time To Push Shortly After

My midwife initially told me she comes to check on the progression of the labor every 2 hours, but she came in at an hour and a half mark because she heard my screams and they sounded pretty intense. As soon as she checked my dilation, she yelled “Girl, you are about to have this baby!”

I remember thinking, “THANK GOD!” I was in so much excruciating pain that I might have asked to be transferred to a hospital for an epidural if it went on for hours more.

With the midwife, the birth assistant, and my husband surrounding me and walking me through every change that happened, I pushed for less than 30 minutes before the baby was out! Charlie actually texted my parents that they should come immediately when our midwife told us that the baby’s about to come. I really wanted my mom in the room with me when it happened and she did as well. However, it all happened so quickly that she missed the whole thing.

During the beginning stages of pushing, my midwife told me to reach down when the baby was crowning, and I was actually able to feel the baby’s head and her hair. It was magical.

Charlie, who once told me that he doesn’t know if he would be able to watch everything that happens down there, was the one telling me, “The head is out!” And we heard the her cry even before she was fully out, which made the last few pushes easier because I just couldn’t wait to meet her.

The ring of fire was definitely painful, but I didn’t think it was as bad as the contractions themselves. I think it was because I was so relieved that the pain would all be over soon that it was easier to handle at the moment. And once she was out, the relief was immediate!

Charlie first time holding Joey

Baby Joey Jiyoon Wray-Choi was born on 9/17/19 at 10:54pm after 2.5 hours of active labor. She was 8 lb 1 oz and measured 19.2 inches.

While a quick labor is easy in some ways, dilating from 1cm to 10cm in just 2 hours is way more painful than a slow-progressing labor. I, of course, have nothing to compare this to, but I have heard from other women who’ve had similar experiences and the midwives that it can actually be more difficult in some ways because of the amount of pain that you go through in such a short time.

Either way, I’m so thankful that it all led to a healthy and beautiful baby who brings us so much joy.

Immediate Skin-To-Skin and Breastfeeding

Once the baby was born, she was immediately placed on my chest and this was the part I was looking forward to the most. It was so beautiful, and I just couldn’t believe that this tiny human came out of me. They say there’s nothing like meeting your baby for the first time and it’s true. It’s such an overwhelming mix of emotions that’s hard to describe. I have only dreamed of this moment and it was actually happening!

She quickly crawled onto my breasts on her own and started breastfeeding immediately. It was so perfect.

We waited for what it felt like 20-30 minutes for the umbilical cord to stop pulsating before Charlie nervously cut it. He was afraid he would do it wrong, but I’m so glad that I convinced him that he should be the one that does it.

After getting my stomach massaged by the midwife, I delivered the placenta which we were able to take home with us because I was getting it encapsulated for postpartum healing.

Headed Home 4 Hours After Birth

I got to spend a lot of time skin-to-skin with the baby for a few hours at the birth center, while breastfeeding her throughout. The midwife also took the baby’s temperature, weighed and measured her, and took her footprints for us to take home.

my birth story - newborn joey

She also made sure I felt okay to go home. I tore a little bit, but didn’t need stitches which I was thankful for.

And after 4 hours, we headed home with the baby at 3am! It was a whirlwind of a day, but everything about it was so perfect and I couldn’t have asked for a better experience. Of course, we have our midwife and the team at the birth center to thank for being such an amazing support system from pregnancy to postpartum.

Heading home with the baby

I still can’t believe I had the exact birth experience I had wanted, which I know isn’t common. I know we would be ecstatic no matter how she came into this world, but I do feel very lucky and thankful that it all went just as we had planned.

There were times during the pregnancy and labor when I thought that I’ll only be doing this once, but meeting her and experiencing the amount of joy she brings us has changed all of that so maybe we’ll plan for baby #2 in a few years!

THANK YOU.

My birth story was one of the most top requested blog posts from you on social media, and I hope you enjoyed reading about it. I love this community so much, and it brings me joy to share these intimate moments with you which I hope is helpful in some way.

I want to thank you all for bringing such positivity to my pregnancy and motherhood with your sweet comments, well wishes, and sharing your own unique experiences. I have such great newfound respect for all mothers for bringing their babies into the world, and I hope to continue sharing my journey in the future.

If you have any comments or requests for future posts about pregnancy or motherhood, please share them below!

Non Toxic Baby Products For The Nursery and Registry

Check out my top choices for non toxic baby products you may want to add to your nursery and registry to lower our little ones’ exposure to harmful chemicals!

Non Toxic Baby Products For The Nursery and Registry

After researching a ton of baby products on the market, the harmful chemicals that are in so many of them, and what a newborn actually needs, I’ve picked out some of my favorite non toxic baby products that we’ve been adding to the nursery and our registry before our baby’s arrival.

Before I talk about what non toxic baby products we decided on and some other safe options you may choose to go with, I just want to share that we don’t have to change everything in our lives, but it’s definitely wise to think about reducing our exposure to toxins which are in so many of the products we use everyday, mattresses and beddings we sleep on, and things that go on our skin. Babies are especially sensitive to these substances, which is why we are being extra mindful.

We are actually quite minimalists when it comes to products (we weren’t even going to set up a nursery at first), so here’s the list of what we thought we absolutely needed in preparation for our baby!

SAFEST BABY MATTRESS

One of the first things I researched when it came non toxic baby products was the safest baby mattresses on the market. Since the baby will spend most of her time sleeping, this was extremely important to me and the same goes for adult mattresses as well (even more so if you are planning to co-sleep or bed-share).

So many mattresses are made with flame-retardant chemicals like polyurethane foam and contain VOCs, formaldehyde, and pesticides, and these toxins are harmful for our health and contribute to indoor air pollution. Of course, babies and kids are even more sensitive to these chemicals, which is why I wanted to invest in the safest baby mattress on the market.

Emily Natural Crib Mattress - safest baby mattress

Emily Natural Crib Mattress By MyGreenMattress

We decided to go with Emily Natural Crib Mattress, because it’s made with GOTS-certified organic cotton and Oeko-Tex certified natural wool. I also really liked that it’s made in the US!

Wool mattresses are naturally flame retardant so it doesn’t need harmful chemicals, and I love that they don’t use dyes or bleaches. I felt really great opening up the mattress when I first received it, because it didn’t have any kind of chemical smell at all.

In addition, Emily Natural Crib Mattress has an awesome firmness level, which is important for the safety of newborns. It also provides even weight distribution because it features GOTS-certified coconut coir blended with GOLS-certified natural latex.

It was also one of the most affordable safe baby mattresses on the market. We also got their Organic Cotton Waterproof Mattress Protector, because there will definitely be many accidents in the future!

Other Safe Crib Mattress Options

ORGANIC BABY CRIB SHEETS

Not only is the crib mattress important, you better believe the sheets are as well! Luckily, high quality, organic baby crib sheets are not expensive, and you can find many on the market at an affordable price. I wanted to find sheets that were unbleached and certified organic, and they were really easy to find!

organic baby crib sheets - Non Toxic Baby Products

I honestly loved the design of this Crate and Barrel organic baby crib sheet so that’s what I got to “set up” the nursery, but will probably also buy a few more from this list as backups for when it needs to be washed:

NON TOXIC CAR SEAT

The main problem with most car seats on the market is the flame retardant chemicals that they contain. While flame retardant chemicals are used to prevent the spread of fire, they accumulate in the body and do not leave, and are linked to serious health hazards like:

  • hormone disruption
  • impaired fetal and child development
  • impaired neurological development
  • liver and thyroid issues

Unfortunately, there aren’t many companies that are making car seats without these chemicals, but I did find a few on the market that use wool instead which is naturally flame retardant.

UPPAbaby Mesa Merino Wool Car Seat

This is the one that we decided to go with. I really loved the design of these UPPAbaby Mesa car seats, and they use OEKO-TEX Standard 100 certified wool. On top of that, from everything I’ve been reading, they are one of the safest car seats out there.

Keep in mind that only the colors Henry and Jordan are made with merino wool and contain no flame retardant chemicals, which is why these 2 colors are priced higher than other colors. They are also really easy to install as well.

non toxic car seats

Other Non Toxic Car Seat Options

NON TOXIC DIAPERS

I was actually quite excited to see that there were a good amount of options for safer, non toxic diapers on the market. I was, at first, surprised by how much harmful chemicals were in so many diapers, just like feminine menstrual pads. Our genitals are one of the most sensitive parts of our body that absorb chemicals easily, so it’s important for me to purchase diapers that are free of toxins.

Chemicals to Avoid in Diapers

  • Dioxins (chlorine bleach) – Most diapers are bleached with chlorine, and dioxins are the byproduct of this process which leech into the diaper and the environment. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) considers dioxins as highly carcinogenic, and they are also known to cause skin irritations.
  • Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) – These chemicals in diapers can evaporate and impair lung function, as well as causing eye, nose and throat irritation, headaches, damage to the kidney and central nervous system. Some of these chemicals in disposable diapers include toluene, ethylbenzene, and xylene.
  • Tributyl-tin (TBT) – Commonly found in disposable diapers, TBT is linked to skin issues, but is also extremely harmful to aquatic life by causing hormonal disruptions in aquatic organisms.
  • Fragrances and dyes – Just like in skincare, companies are not required to disclose what chemicals and specific ingredients fall under the term “fragrance.” Many times, they can include parabens, pthalates, and other harmful ingredients that are known to cause reproductive toxicity and allergic reactions.

Non Toxic Diapers – Top Choices

The more I looked into non toxic diapers, I began realizing that every diaper fits every baby differently. While one brand might have a clean option, it may leak and not be the best option for some babies.

Because of this, we decided to buy one large pack of newborn diapers from one brand, and then get free to cheap samples from several brands so we can try them out and pick what will be best for our baby later. Many companies offer samples so it’s a really great idea to take advantage of them to make sure they are right for your baby before you invest in them!

Here are some clean brands I found:

  • Thrive Market Diapers: We decided to purchase a big pack of these diapers because they were one of the cheapest ones on the market for non toxic diapers. Newborn babies change diapers about 20 times a day, so we knew we needed a lot to start out with. These diapers are made with chlorine-free wood pulp and made with plant-based liners and ink without heavy metals. They also have great reviews!
    Get an extra 25% OFF your first order + a 30 day free trial membership when you sign up at Thrive Market! (Valid on orders $49+, max $20 discount)
  • Dyper: This is a subscription based company and you pay just $64/month, and the number of diapers they send you varies depending on the baby’s age and needs. Their diapers are made of bamboo without chlorine, latex, alcohol, perfumes, PVC, lotions, TBT or phthalates. They can also be safely composted.
    Right now, they are offering a free diaper bag when you start a monthly subscription!
  • Andy Pandy: Great for babies with sensitive skin, these bamboo diapers use an aloe liner to moisturize the skin and are free of chlorine, BPA, TBT, PVC, and preservatives. They are also biodegradable and eco-friendly and I like that they have a wetness indicator. I’ve heard amazing reviews about how absorbent they are without leaks.
  • Honest Company
  • Bambo Nature
  • Parasol: These diapers use fluff pulp harvested from sustainably managed forests and they have such cute designs. They are hypoallergenic, and use safe and lead-free inks.
  • Eco by Naty: Another great option. One thing to note is that the material is partly made out of non-GMO corn, so it’s something to remember if your baby has allergies.
  • Earth+Eden
  • Pampers Pure: I love that a mainstream company is coming out with toxin free diapers, which shows that the demand is definitely out there for safer products for our little ones.
non toxic diapers and non toxic baby wipes

NON TOXIC BABY WIPES

Just like diapers, babies go through baby wipes fast so it’s a good idea to have plenty on hand. However, they are another item that contain harsh chemicals that you may not want touching your baby’s gentle, sensitive skin.

I actually found that the most popular companies included harmful chemicals that are known to be irritants, allergens, and/on toxins in their baby wipes.

Chemicals to Avoid in Baby Wipes

  • Parabens – Preservatives known to cause hormone disruption, as well as skin rashes and allergies. You can find them on the label most commonly as butlyl, ethyl, methyl, and propyl (all ending in -paraben).
  • Formaldehyde-releasing chemicals – Used as a preservative and known to cause cancer, and damage hormonal health and central nervous system. You can look for the following terms on the label: formaldehyde, quaternium-15, DMDM hydantoin, imidazolidinyl urea, diazolidinyl urea, polyoxymethylene urea, sodium hydroxymethylglycinate, 2-bromo-2-nitropropane-1,3-diol (bromopol) and glyoxal.
  • Propylene glycol or polyethylene glycol – These are petroleum-based mineral oils used to enhance absorption, so harmful chemicals can easily be penetrated through the skin. It’s also a skin irritant and can cause allergic reactions. These oils can also be easily contaminated with carcinogens during the manufacturing process.
  • Sodium Lauryl/Laureth Sulfate (SLS & SLES) – Used as a foaming and cleaning agent, both SLS and SLES can cause organ toxicity, reproductive toxicity, endocrine disruption, neurotoxocity and skin and eye irritation.
  • Triclosan – An antibacterial agent that passes through the skin to cause allergies and hormone dysfunction. It has also been connected to the rise in antibiotic resistant bacteria. While it’s not too common in baby wipes, they are abundant in antibacterial wipes so it’s best to avoid them if you are out of baby wipes.
  • Methylisothiazolinone (MIT) – A common preservative that most manufacturers stopped using because of its harmful effects, but I was still able to spot it recently in popular baby wipes. It is widely known to cause dermatitis.
  • Fragrances (includes essential oils) – Just like I mentioned under the chemicals you want to avoid in diapers, there could be various harmful chemicals that manufacturers could hide under the “fragrance” like pthalates, endocrine disruptors, allergens, and neurotoxins. I would also avoid using natural fragrances like essential oils. While they ARE natural, they can be potent and not be manufactured properly, and be irritating and burdensome to baby’s sensitive skin and system.

Baby Wipes by bloom BABY for Sensitive Skin

After looking at all the clean options for baby wipes, these Bloom BABY wipes were what we decided to go with, because they are budget-friendly (5 cents per wipe if you buy in bulk), hypoallergenic, and are free of “alcohol, chlorine, phthalates, formaldehyde carriers, parabens, phenols, quaternary ammonium compounds, SLS, lanolin, or most common allergens.” They are also fragrance free.

What I also like about these wipes is the quality and size of the wipes. I have read about a lot of non toxic baby wipes being too flimsy or having to use more than one at each use because they just do not hold up. However, I love that these are big and durable.

Other Non-Toxic Baby Wipes

GLASS BABY BOTTLES

Another item to consider when shopping for non toxic baby product is baby bottles and what they are made of. I’ve stopped using any kind of plastic in the kitchen for a few years now, except for the occasional use of resealable plastic bags. While there are many plastic containers and bottles that are BPA-free, BPA is not the only chemical that we need to avoid in plastics.

There are also BPS and BPF which are found in plastics, that pose a similar level of health risks and leech into the food when we eat out of these plastic containers. They can disrupt our hormonal health and cause reproductive issues, while causing inflammation and DNA damage.

The more I study the negative effects of plastics (BPA-free included) for our health and the environment, the less of it I want in my home. So when I was choosing baby bottles, there was no question that I wanted to go with glass.

Mason Bottle

glass baby bottles

Okay, I freaked out a little when I found out about this company, because the concept is just so brilliant. I was looking at a bunch of glass baby bottles on the market to choose from, and I was honestly a bit surprised at how expensive they are. However, I was willing to spend the dough for the best option for our baby.

That was when I came across the company, Mason Bottle. With the kit you purchase from them, you can convert current glass mason jars you have at home into baby bottles. The products are made with silicone and high quality and include:

  • silicone nipples (been hearing great reviews about the nipple design and how they don’t cause nipple confusion)
  • silicone sleeves to protect the glass jars
  • or you can order the whole DIY kit like me, which also comes with a cap to protect the nipples.

I love that these are affordable and if you don’t have any mason jars at home, you can easily purchase them for about a $1 each at a local craft store! They also have toddler tumbler options as well.

I tested them out and they are completely leak-proof. Plus, as long as you have the DIY kit, that’s all you need. No need to buy more expensive bottles.

Other Great Glass Baby Bottle Options

BEST BABY BATH SOAPS & LOTIONS

As a safer skincare advocate, there wasn’t a question that I would look at every ingredient on all the skincare products we may use on our baby. With my own history of hormonal issues that drastically improved after switching to safer products, I know the huge impact that harmful ingredients can have on our health. I do believe that working on my health and making this switch were what helped me get pregnant in the first place, when I initially knew there was a possibility I might not be able to.

There are hormone disrupting ingredients like fragrances, parabens, pthalates, formaldehyde, petroleum-based oils, and more, that shouldn’t even be in adult skin care products, yet you can find them in products for babies who are much more sensitive to these chemicals. These ingredients are known to cause reproductive toxicity, allergies, and developmental disorders.

Beautycounter’s Baby Products

Whether they are for adults or babies, Beautycounter makes some of the highest quality and safest products that are actually very effective. They have banned 1500 harmful or known-to-be harmful ingredients in all their products, when the US has only banned 30.

Their baby products are gentle and safe for babies, and many moms have had great success reducing diaper rashes and skin conditions with their products. They have:

  • Baby Gentle All-Over Wash – Tear free and gentle soap that has no scent. Moms with babies who have sensitive skin swear by this wash.
  • Baby Daily Protective Balm – I’ve actually been personally using this as a cuticle cream because it’s so hydrating and healing. If you have babies with dry skin spots or eczema, the combination of organic shea butter and jojoba oil is so soothing!
  • Baby Soothing Oil – A safe and lightweight moisturizer for baby without being greasy. Some moms also use it for their little one’s cradle cap with great success.
  • Baby Calming Diaper Rash Cream – I’ve been hearing from so many mamas that this zinc-based diaper cream is amazing for healing redness and irritation. They come back to this over and over again after trying out other products that just aren’t as effective, and it’s also EWG-verified.
  • Or you can purchase the discounted bundle (doesn’t come with the Diaper Rash Cream), or the entire collection which comes with an awesome diaper bag!
best baby soaps and lotions non toxic - beautycounter

Other Safe Baby Skin Care Products

OTHER ITEMS WE PURCHASED

Crib – This was the only new furniture we bought for the nursery and I wanted a wood one with low-VOC paint that was preferably GREENGUARD Gold Certified (meets rigorous emissions standards for chemical exposure and pollutants, such as VOCs, formaldehyde, and phthalates). The ones I found under this criteria were pretty pricey, but I actually discovered this Carter’s by DaVinci convertible crib that was budget friendly and minimalist. It didn’t emit any smell when I opened the package, I think it looks really nice!

non toxic crib with flame retardant chemicals

Snuggle Me Organic Lounger – Definitely not a necessity, but I’ve heard other mamas who have it who say that this was crucial for successful naps. I’m willing to invest in anything that’ll make my life easier postpartum. I love that these are GOTS certified organic cotton, and the fill is virgin polyester fiber fill, which means there are no additives or flame retardants.

Solly Wrap – I’ve studied a lot about babywearing and its benefits, and it was something I definitely want to do with my baby. After reading countless reviews and talking to a local babywearing specialist, the Solly seemed like the best option for a newborn because it’s lightweight, breathable, and doesn’t stretch easily.

Haakaa Manual Breast Pump – The more I learn about breastfeeding, it seems like manual pumps are way easier and more effective than electronic pumps. Of course, this is always determined by your personal preference, but I don’t think I want to be connected to cords with pumps that make loud noises. It’s also a pain to carry them around. I do have one on hand from my insurance company, but I have been hearing so many amazing things about the Haakaa breast pump, so that’s what I decided to go with. They are small, easy to clean, portable, and amazing for catching let-downs while breastfeeding so none of your milk goes to waste.

Swaddles – Swaddles are of those things in which there are so many choices on the market, and you just don’t know what your baby will gravitate toward in terms of style or if she or he will even like it. We did purchase several to have on hand. Some of my requirements were:

  • I wanted them to be cotton or muslin so they are safe and breathable.
  • The blanket styles had to be 47″x47″ – many parents told me that any smaller, they didn’t work as well.
  • They shouldn’t be bamboo material because they are too smooth and silky in texture, so the swaddle loosens easily.

We have 6 swaddles on hand and these are what we decided to go with:

non toxic baby products

Hope you found this extensive guide of non toxic baby products helpful! Of course, these are just my top choices and decisions based on my own research. It’s always so empowering to do your own research, as well as take guidance from experienced parents as well. Our choices may change when the baby is actually here and that’s perfectly okay. You just gotta find what works best for you and your family based on trial and error!

non toxic nursery
non toxic baby products nursery
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Our Rome to Amalfi Coast Itinerary + My Top Babymoon Tips

Read the details of our week-long trip from Rome to Amalfi Coast we took when I was 28 weeks pregnant, and my top babymoon tips for an active vacation!

Rome to Amalfi Coast - Positano

My husband and I recently came back from an epic trip to Italy (Rome to Amafi Coast) for our babymoon, and it was so much fun and relaxing! We actually started planning this trip during my first trimester, which made me a bit nervous and excited at the same time, because I had no idea if my growing body will be able to keep up with all the walking or handle the hot Italy weather.

Thankfully, I’ve been quite active throughout my pregnancy so I had no trouble keeping up with my husband and doing all the touristy things. I seriously enjoyed every minute of it!

Prepare Before Leaving

  • Purchase a SIM card. I’m so glad we got SIM cards instead of paying international data fees through our cell service company. These are SO MUCH CHEAPER, and they allowed us to not get lost during our trip, research restaurants and sites, and more, since we had service everywhere we went. This 12 GB data card was plenty for our 10 day trip (and we had so much data to spare by the end), if you connect to wifi whenever it’s available. All you have to do is contact your phone company to make sure your phone is unlocked, and just switch out the SIM cards once you get to your destination.
  • Make sure to purchase plug adapters appropriate for where you are traveling to, and check that all your chargers, hair dryers, and whatever else you want to bring are compatible to the county’s voltage unless you have a converter. We bought this pack of adapters for super cheap!
  • Check airline fees for checked bags. Most of the time, you pay less if you purchase these ahead of time. It’s a small way to save money!
  • Pack healthy snacks for long flights. The meals they give out on the flights were horrible quality filled with sugar, so if you want to feel optimal during your travels, it’s a good idea to pack some healthier snacks to munch on.
  • Research transportations to and from each location. Do this research ahead of time to save time and headache once you are there. Being prepared with this made it so much easier to know what to expect every time we were hopping from one destination to another. Also, some train tickets are way cheaper if you purchase them ahead of time so it’s a small way to save money!
  • Plan any tours or excursions. We aren’t fans of group tours since we are picky about what we want to see and we like to see them at our own pace, but if that’s something that you are interested in, definitely plan them out before the trip. This way, you’ll have plenty of time to research the tours and their reviews without having to decide last minute. We did this for our food tours, and they were so worth it!

4 Days in Rome

What’s funny is I’ve been to Rome when I was in college, but I wasn’t a fan so I didn’t expect to like it much when I went back. I just remember it being super crowded, dirty, and not pretty. This time, however, I fell in love with the city: its beauty that I somehow missed before, the people, the FOOD, and everything. It’s crazy how you see places in a different light at different stages of your life!

Where we stayed

We did a bunch of research and asking around for what area to stay while we were there. We wanted somewhere convenient enough to be close to bars and restaurants and public transportation, but away from tourists. Many people recommended the area of Trastevere, so we ended up booking an Airbnb there.

Honestly, I LOVED this area. It was young, hip, GORGEOUS, with so many great places to eat. We got to our Airbnb around midnight the first night we got there and there were still restaurants open, which was amazing because we were still on LA time zone and it was lunch time for us.

There were also bus stops 5 minutes from our Airbnb that easily took us to all the major tourist sites. They say Trastevere is the greenest neighborhood of Italy because of all the urban greens and plants of the beautiful alleyways, and it really was!

What we saw

We did a lot of the typical tourist sightseeing like the Colosseum, Roman Forum, Pantheon, Trevi Fountain, and the Spanish Steps. We also walked around a bit in Vatican City, but didn’t want to wait in the long line for the museum and the Sistine Chapel and I’ve done that in my previous trip so we opted out of it.

Rome to Amalfi Coast - Colosseum

I honestly loved all the walking around in the alleyways and checking out the local shops and streets of Rome way more than seeing the sites. My husband, who loves history and architecture, will probably tell you that he liked seeing the sites more. Whatever you prefer, Rome is just a great place filled with so much beauty.

What we ate

Food was one of the BEST parts of Rome! My husband, who thought that he didn’t like Italian food, was floored by how delicious everything was. I honestly had no trouble eating gluten free because Italy has the highest rate of celiac disease so they are very accommodating for gluten intolerances. Somehow, their gluten free foods taste so much like the real, gluten version!

Also, because their ingredient quality is so high, I found that I was totally fine sneaking in gluten from time to time there. I usually have the worst stomachache with brain fog when I get exposed to it in the US, but I was able to tolerate it much better there.

Here are some of our top favorite spots:

Iari the Vino: The best gluten free pizza near the Colosseum! Plus, the outdoor seating area is in the cutest little alleyway.

Arancio d’Oro: This is a classic Italian place with awesome gluten free pasta. The service was great, and I loved that it was away from the busy touristy area. They also have gluten free pizza, but we didn’t get to try it out.

Mercato Di Campagna: If you have the chance to cook at your Airbnb while you are there, or if you just like farmers markets, I highly recommend this lively indoor market filled with local vendors. They have the freshest of every kind of produce, bread, fruits, meat, seafood, and even flowers, and it’s just so fun to walk around. They also sell prepared food there that we unfortunately didn’t take advantage of.

Tiramisu Roma Trastevere: For dessert fans who love tiramisu, this is your spot. They make each tiramisu in front of you, and in various flavors! I LOVED that they weren’t too rich or sweet, but still tasted amazing. My husband and I never get desserts and we don’t have a sweet tooth, but we ended up demolishing ours. I really loved the pistachio flavor!

Food Tour of Trastevere: My husband pushed us into doing this food tour and I’m so glad he did! It was one of the best ways to see the Trastevere area while tasting food from local spots that we wouldn’t have found otherwise. Everything tasted AMAZING, truly. We started out with a little wine tasting with charcuterie, enjoyed several pasta dishes, and ended with dessert. We even got a bit of food history lesson and learned a lot of about Roman food.

Pizza in Rome

Getting around

Rome is a relatively small city, so we had no trouble walking everywhere. However, by the third day, my pregnancy was catching up to me so we took the bus when we could (so cheap and easy), or we took the taxi.

Unlike the US, you can’t just hail cabs anywhere on the streets of Rome. You have to find cab stands (they came up when I searched on Google Maps!) where you’ll see cabs waiting in line to service the customers.

We also downloaded the app mytaxi, which is basically an Uber in Rome and you can input your credit card in the app for payment. Since many taxi drivers do not use this app, you can wait for a long time for one of them respond, but it worked for us when we felt stranded without a taxi stand near by.

Tips

  • Make sure to taste Italian coffee. They are ridiculously strong but so delicious. If you want a regular coffee that you can get in the states, say “Americano” because they’ll give you a shot of espresso if you say “coffee.”
  • Bring/buy water everywhere! The heat is no joke.
  • Don’t be fooled by ticket scalpers who are at every tourist location.
  • Remember to bring your sunscreen.
  • Comfortable shoes are a MUST.
Rome to Amalfi Coast - Italian Coffee

Getting to Amalfi Coast from Rome

We stayed in Rome for 3 days and it was time to go to Amalfi coast (the part that I was REALLY excited about). To get to Amalfi coast, the easiest way is by train.

You’ll take a train from Roma Termini to Naples-Napoli Centrale through ItaliaRail (the tickets are cheaper if you buy them in advance). You can then take a local Circumvesuviana train from here and go all the way to Sorrento (one of the main cities of Amalfi Coast), but we decided to make a stop at Pompeii on the way to Amalfi Coast.

The transportation was really easy. There’s a short train to Pompeii, and then there’s another subway train from Pompeii to Sorrento.

3 Hours in Pompeii

Rome to Amalfi Coast - Pompeii

We only stayed in Pompeii for a few hours, but the ruins are quite amazing. It was unbearably hot when we were there and you have to walk a ton to get around the ruins, but we were able to see the major sites and take in a ton of amazing history.

There isn’t really much around Pompeii unless you are willing to walk to the main streets or take a cab. We were eager to get to Amalfi Coast so we took to train to Sorrento soon after we saw the ruins.

3 Days in Positano

My top favorite destination of our trip! To get to Positano, we took the Circumvesuviana train from Pompeii to Sorrento. From there, we took the local bus to central Positano.

I’ll be honest, the bus times were not reliable and I think we waited almost an hour for it, but it was SO worth it! The bus ride itself was so gorgeous since you drive up the mountain where you get to see the beautiful coastline. And once you finally get to Positano, every part of it is like a dream!: the vertical houses and buildings, the beach, and the colorful shops.

What we saw

Rome to Amalfi Coast - Positano

Positano is a tiny coastal town, but it’s quite vertical with steep hills so be prepared to get some exercise walking around. If you love the beach, seafood, shopping, and breathtaking scenery, then this is the spot for you.

Since there are so many other beautiful coastal towns nearby, we thought about taking the bus to them, but we were pretty tired from Rome and really just wanted to lounge and relax. We only had 3 days here so we decided to stay put and just take in everything Positano.

Rome to Amalfi Coast - Positano Fornillo Beach
  • Spiaggia Grande: The main beach of Positano that you see in all the Instagram photos. It’s gorgeous and surrounded by vertical buildings and definitely picture worthy. It does get quite crowded though, but it didn’t bother me.
  • Fornillo: I actually liked this beach more than the main one. You have to walk about 15 minutes to get to it, but it’s less crowded, cheaper, but still gorgeous and clean. It’s surrounded by green mountains and so so peaceful.
  • Best sunset: I really wanted the beaches to have an amazing sunset, but the sun sets towards the mountain in Positano. If you want to experience the beautiful pink hazy look on all the buildings, you just have to climb up the steep road (there’s only one main road, Viale Pasitea). You’ll find that one side of the road always faces the water and you’ll be able to take in some breathtaking views as you go higher.
Rome to Amalfi Coast - Positano Sunset

What we ate

It’s all about seafood in Amalfi Coast, and they are GOOD. We had some of the best mussels, fish, shrimp, and more, and while the price was higher than in Rome, it was all worth it!

  • Valle dei Mulini: This place had a cute outdoor patio and was the first place we ate at. It’s also casual and less expensive than most restaurants in the area. I can’t speak much about the seafood here, but the steak??? It was perfection.
  • Restaurant L’Incanto: This is the beach club we hung out at to lay out in, right on the Sappagio Grande beach. Yes, it’s touristy, but mussels soup was fantastic. We got it as an appetizer and we ALMOST ordered another one after because it was so amazing and not fishy at all! The shrimp risotto was delicious as well.
  • Fratelli Grassi Positano: This is a beach club in Fornillo Beach. It’s small with a limited menu, but our Airbnb host recommended it to us for their caponata (toasted bread salad). It did not disappoint and the price was great too. This was one of the time I decided to eat gluten during the trip and it was totally worth it!
  • Il Grottino Azzurro: This is a small restaurant on top of Positano where locals go, and the seafood here was amazing. The walk to this restaurant is no joke and it’s an uphill climb for about 45 minutes, and we were both incredibly out of breath afterwards. I would recommend getting a taxi there. However, the food is fantastic and so is the service.

Rome to Amalfi Coast - Mussels

Rome to Amalfi Coast - Caponata

Tips

  • Bring water shoes or water-friendly sandals. The beaches in Positano are covered with sharp dark rocks and pebbles, and it’s a bit painful to walk on barefoot. I had to wear my flip flops going into the water.
  • This is not a handicap-friendly town. The streets are bumpy, steep and narrow, so be prepared to get in some workouts getting around town, or hire a private car!
  • The beach club chair and umbrella rentals can be expensive, but I thought they were worth it because it was comfortable and relaxing. There are small sections on the beaches where it’s free, but it’s not as comfortable to lay on the bumpy rocks.
  • If you love colorful ceramics, make sure to pick up some handmade pieces from here because that’s what Positano is known for!
  • Enjoy some limoncello. They aren’t too sweet and they are so refreshing! The Amalfi Coast has some of the biggest lemons that aren’t too tart (perfect for limoncello), so that’s why limoncellos are so popular and delicious here.

2 Days in Capri

After 3 days in Positano, we headed to the beautiful island of Capri. It’s actually really easy to get to Capri from Positano. There’s a direct ferry ride to the island from Positano’s main port. However, there aren’t many ferries that go there each day, so make sure to check the schedule prior so you can be prepared to leave at the correct time.

Where we stayed

While we’ve never been to Capri, we decided to stay in the less touristy side of the island called Anacapri in the west and we LOVED it. It was quiet and filled with such cute restaurants and shops, and we had the most amazing views of the coast and the beaches being so high up in the mountain. Also, it’s really easy to get to from the port of Capri with a simple bus ride.

If you want the city and the busy downtown vibe, I would recommend the Capri side. The price is also higher there. But if you are more into relaxing and slowing down, Anacapri was perfect for that. However, the bus system is awesome and the island itself is pretty small, so you can get from one side to the other very easily through public transportation.

What we saw

Since we stayed in Anacapri and we were there only for 2 days, we mainly stayed in that area. If we stayed longer, we might have explored the east side of Capri more, but everything we saw was so beautiful so we didn’t feel like we missed out.

Rome to Amalfi Coast - Punta Carena Lighthouse
  • Punta Carena Lighthouse: One of the biggest perks of staying in Anacapri was how close we were to the Punta Carena Lighthouse. It’s on the far end of Anacapri and easily accessible by the local bus. It’s the spot for the one of the most BEAUTIFUL sunsets on the island and there’s a path along the rocky coast that you can walk on that’s just just breathtaking. There’s also a very small beach area that you can lay out in, as well as a spot to grab drinks and food.
  • Marina Grande: To be honest, the beaches in Capri do not compare to the Positano beaches. They are tiny, insanely crowded, but pretty and very clean, nonetheless. We didn’t do much laying out in Capri for this reason, but it was nice to soak our feet in this cold and crystal clear water after walking around during the day.
  • Villa San Michele: This is a beautiful mansion built by Axel Munthe, a Swedish doctor. While I have never heard of him, this villa faces the amazing views of Capri in the back, alongside beautiful Mediterranean gardens.

    You can explore the inside with an entry fee, but we decided to just walk around the villa. That was honestly enough for us because we got to see the beauty of it, but there’s a collection of Roman artifacts and interesting rooms to see inside. In addition, the walk to the villa is really fun because it’s a part of Anacapri with cute shops and restaurants that we didn’t know existed until we were there.
Rome to Amalfi Coast - View from Monte Solaro

What we ate

Since we weren’t in Capri for a long time, this will be a short list. A lot of the food here is seafood-focused, which we didn’t mind at all.

Aumm Aumm Ristorante Pizzeria: This is a casual spot in Anacapri, and we were blown away by the food. They have pizza and pasta, and are gluten-free friendly. I got the fish of the day, and my husband had the seafood pasta, and they were both fantastic and so well prepared. The back garden area is also really relaxing and cozy for dinnertime, and the price wasn’t as high as other restaurants in the area either!

La Taberna degli Amici: This is a restaurant/pub that’s actually right across the street from Aumm Aumm and we had a delicious lunch there. They had gluten free bread for me and they serve classic Italian food, as well as sandwiches and burgers. We both enjoyed our meals (a sandwich and a burger) and the service was exceptional. I also have heard that their pasta and appetizers are amazing as well, but we didn’t get to try them.

Rome to Amalfi Coast - Capri food

The Rest of the Trip

From Capri, we took a high speed ferry to Naples, and from here, we flew to Greece for a short 3 day trip. Since we didn’t do much there that you can’t find in other popular guides and the trip itself was so short, I decided to not include it in this guide. Our favorite parts were all the things we did from Rome to Amalfi Coast anyway.

Rome to Amalfi Coast - Short Stop in GREECE

If you want to check out my Instagram Stories for everything I captured during our trip, you can check out my highlights on here (part 1) and here (part 2).

My Top Babymoon Tips

Since I received so many messages and questions on Instagram about traveling while 7 months pregnant, I decided share my top babymoon tips of what worked for me during my trip. I actually thought I would have a harder time with all the walking, but it was totally fine and I enjoyed the trip so much!

  • Pack light! Unless you are going to a resort or a relaxing beach vacation, it’s important to pack just what you need for an active vacation. The European streets are mostly cobblestones, and Positano is made up of steep hills, so it was important to keep our luggage light, especially since my husband had to carry both of our loads most of the time. We actually packed both of our luggage into 1 big check-in bag so he could handle it better. Luckily, since it was a summer trip, we only really needed light, minimal clothing.
  • Check with your doctor and airlines. I probably should’ve have done this before we booked everything during the 1st trimester. Some women with high-risk pregnancies are warned not to travel at even 28 weeks. I was lucky that this didn’t happen for me, but I would check with your doctor to make sure you are good to travel. Also, every airline has different rules about when you need a doctor’s note so you can fly with them. Make sure to check this before your travel date, so you can have a doctor’s note on hand if necessary.
  • Pick and choose your activities. Don’t expect to be able to do everything. I honestly had all these hikes planned out for Amalfi Coast, but realized they wouldn’t be easy nor enjoyable being this far along. We also decided not to wait for hours to see the sites of Vatican City to conserve my energy. It’s important to listen to your body and have your partner understand your limits as well.
  • Home base for naps. While I was able to last 7-8 hours of walking in Rome each day, this was only possible because we went back to our Airbnb in the late afternoon to rest and nap before dinnertime. Make sure to have a home base where you can go back to to lounge around if you are too tired.
  • Sneakers and memory foam shoes. I think this applies whether you are pregnant or not, but comfortable shoes are crucial. If want something a bit more stylish than sneakers, these memory foam sandals were amazingly comfortable and I wore them everyday there through all the long walks. They are super cute too!
  • Backpacks. When you have pregnancy back pain and sore feet, the last thing you want to do it carry a bag on one shoulder. You’ll feel SO much better at the end of the day with a backpack, that’ll evenly distribute the weight of all the items you are carrying. I’ve had my Fjallraven Kanken backpack for a while now, and it’s my go-to for traveling because it so great with weight distribution and preventing back pain. For everyday touring during our trip, I also brought this smaller, cute backpack which worked really well and looked stylish too!
  • Compression socks and sweatpants for the plane. The flights were long for this trip (12-15 hours) and that was probably the most annoying part. To reduce swelling, make sure to wear compression socks (these worked well for me) and comfy sweatpants. I also booked an aisle seat because I seriously had to pee every hour, and I walked around the plane whenever I could to bring circulation into my legs.
  • Water. Hydration is so important normally, but even more so when you are pregnant! We always made sure we had water on us, and with the Italian summer heat, you’ll need a lot of it. All the more reason to have a backpack to keep your water in.
  • Enjoy wine. If you feel safe and comfortable, I highly recommend you fit in a glass of wine during your babymoon. It’s totally the norm to enjoy wine in Italy when you are pregnant, and I definitely took advantage of this on 2-3 occasions throughout our 10-day trip. I was asked at every restaurant if I wanted wine and I was clearly showing. If you feel okay and your doctor gives you the green light, you don’t want to miss out on the wine because it’s so delicious there!
  • Take photos. This one is an obvious one, but seriously, take all the photos! This is an amazing time of your life with your growing belly, and my husband took so many photos in all the pretty European settings. I can’t wait to show my kid one day all the places we’ve been together when she was inside me, and who knows if I’ll be pregnant again? I just know I’ll cherish these moments forever with my baby kicking constantly as we travel from one destination to another, and I want to be able to look back at them in the future.
First Day of 3rd Trimester - babymoon tips

If you have any additional questions about our trip from Rome to Amalfi Coast, or if you want to learn more about traveling when you are pregnant, leave me a comment below!

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