Category Archives: Ask Holly

What Should I Take To The Hospital?

“I love your post on having a baby in the hospital naturally. I will be having my first baby in about a month and would love to hear your suggestions on what I should take in my birth bag. Thank you!”

Anna J

Hi Anna- thanks for the question. The post you are referencing is How To Have a Natural Childbirth in a Hospital. It can be done! I’ve done it twice. And yes, it’s a good idea to be prepared with a well stocked birth bag!

Here is a list of things to have in your birth bag:

1. A music player and a great playlist. This was SO important to me and got me through some tough moments. It is now such a joy to remember the songs that were playing when each of my babies was born. My playlist had empowering songs, some hard rock, lots of Hawaiian, Willie Nelson, hymns, classical music, singer/songwriter, you name it. I can not recommend this enough! And now with all of the great wireless speakers on the market, it will be super convenient. We love this Jam Box.

2.Organic Preggie Pop Drops, lollipops, gum, etc. I found I needed a variety of these with my first baby.

3. Lavender essential oil- lavender dulls and eases uterine pain, increases the strength of contractions and has an incredible calming effect.

4. Rescue Remedy . I used this with my second baby, and I was so calm while I was in labor. Even during transition. It was pretty unexpected, but I welcomed the feeling!

5. Organic Lip Balm- Important! Labor makes lips chapped!

6. Hair ties or a head band. Just be prepared to want your hair out of your face pronto. I went with about 10.

7. Socks. My feet got super cold during labor and delivery. Though I must not have been wearing any socks during my second baby’s birth, because I still remember the delivery nurse complimenting me on my pedicure. The color was Meet Me On the Star Ferry by OPI (I love that OPI has take the top three toxic chemicals out of their polish!)

8.Nursing pillow. Mine is organic, and I’m convinced it is the best one on the market. I used this to get comfortable during labor, and then when I had my baby I used it immediately to position him during breastfeeding. Since it is all organic with no fire retardant chemicals I felt comfortable putting my brand new baby on it, AND I had laundered the case in safe, non-toxic laundry detergent!

9. Organic and Natural baby products to use on the baby for his or her first bath. I’m not sure what the hospital uses, but I can be pretty sure it’s not the first chemical I want touching my sweet baby’s new skin. The nurse at the NYC hospital where I delivered my firstborn cackled with delight that I had my own baby shampoo, lotion and oil. She said in her 22 years as a baby nurse, this was the first time she’d been requested to use specific products. I’m sure it’s become more common in the last 5 years.

10. Nipple Cream. Breastfeeding a new baby hurts. A lot. It gets better (to the point where you won’t feel a thing) but in the first few days, use this!

11. Nightgown and robe. I did not want to have to wear those awful hospital gowns for my whole stay, so I bought a black nightgown and robe one size larger than my usual size and wore that.

12. Middle of the night snacks- Unless you want to eat the graham crackers the hospital supplies (the ones they gave me had trans fat in them, which I know passes into breast milk so I couldn’t eat them.) I had trail mix, dark chocolate, and a variety of whole food bars.

13. Hot water bottle- the old fashioned kind. It comes in useful for lower back pain during labor. I also used it to warm up the baby’s bed before laying him in it, so he wouldn’t be shocked by cold sheets. Put it where he will lay for about 5 minutes, then remove it before laying him down (obviously.)

14. Toiletries and cosmetics- you’ll want your own shampoo, conditioner, body wash and razor. Especially if you have to share a shower with another new mom like I did in New York City. Side note- that first shower is amazing. Don’t forget your make-up: think visitors, photos, etc.

15. Slippers- (what non-Hawaiians call flip-flops). Very important for walking around the hospital floor- especially after that first shower!

16. Nursing bra- I have a few favorites. Check out Japanese Weekend, La Leche League Wrap ‘N Snap Nursing Bra and Elle Macpherson.

17. Clothes for the ride home for you and baby. I prefer anything in a kimono style for baby, as putting clothes over their little heads was terrifying to me in those early days. Try KicKee Pants or Kate Quinn Organics

What have I missed?

Ask Holly: What is the best Natural Deodorant?

“You are my organic health guru. What deodorant do you use? Do you use organic? I’m thinking of switching my Mitchum to an organic one, but am weary they will leave me smelling “natural”.

Would love to hear your opinion!!”

Austin, TX

This is such a great question, and one I hear all the time. There are many reasons to ditch conventional deodorant- here are a few:

  1. According to a review published on PubMed, antiperspirant use can significantly increase absorbed aluminum. In fact, the bioavailability after single underarm antiperspirant application may be up to 0.012%. Since aluminum is widely recognized as a neurotoxin, I don’t want it in my blood stream, period.
  2. Antiperspirants work by closing the pores that release sweat under your arms which blocks one of your body’s routes for detoxification. I like to get rid of toxins any way I can- not trap them inside my body.
  3. Most conventional deodorants contain parabens. Parabens are preservatives which are used in food, pharmaceuticals and personal care products. They are xeno-estrogens which act as estrogen in our bodies. But here’s the info that gets me- An extensive study of women with breast cancer published in the January 2012 issue of the Journal of Applied Technology found up to 5 different types of parabens in nearly 100 percent of all cancerous breast tumors. That says it all. I avoid parabens like the plague. Read labels and don’t use, eat, or consume anything with parabens. Especially methylparaben which was present in the tumors at the highest level.

I have tried MANY natural deodorants, and here are my favorites. They actually work!

LAVANILA The Healthy Deodorant

Kiss My Face Liquid Rock Roll-On Deodorant, Fragrance Free, 3 fl oz

I’ve also found that when I use certain soaps in the shower they cause my deodorant to, ahem,  not work as well. So I stick to a mild bar soap, and my favorite is the Weleda Calendula Soap. This soap is actually for babies, but I love using my baby’s products!

Ask Holly: How Do You Pronounce Quinoa

And what is it? I feel like I’ve seen this food everywhere lately (even in pasta) and I’m too embarrassed to ask anyone what it is, especially since I dont know how to say it. Thanks!

-Jenna L


Hi Jenna-

I’m so glad you asked. Quinoa is one of my family’s favorite foods.

Quinoa is pronounced “keen-wah.” It is a nutritional powerhouse originally cultivated by the Incas more than 5,000 years ago; they referred to it as the “mother of all grains.” It contains all nine essential amino acids, making it a great source of protein for vegetarians. Quinoa is also high in magnesium, fiber, calcium, phosphorus, iron, copper, manganese, riboflavin and zinc.

While quinoa is widely considered a grain, it’s actually the seed of a plant related to chard and spinach. Quinoa is a gluten-free grain and has a similar effect as other whole grains in helping to stabilize blood sugar.

For best results, rinse quinoa before you cook it to remove the waxy saponin coating which can have a bitter taste. When cooked, it has a fluffy, slightly crunchy texture. Try it in soups, salads, as a breakfast porridge or as its own side dish.

For quinoa, and whole grains in general, digestion begins in the mouth through chewing and exposure to saliva. For optimal nutrition and assimilation, it is vital to chew your grains well. Make it a habit to chew each bite 20 times or more. You’ll be surprised how this simple practice can help your digestion.

Now it’s time to try this glorious new (to you) food!

Quinoa Pilaf

1 cup quinoa
2 1/4 cups water or stock
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup walnut pieces
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley pinch of salt


  1. Rinse quinoa in fine mesh strainer until water runs clear.
  2. Boil the water and add quinoa and salt, cover and reduce heat.
  3. After 15 minutes add cranberries and walnuts to top; do not stir.
  4. Cook 5 minutes more, until all the liquid is absorbed.
  5. Remove from heat, add parsley and fluff with fork, cover and let sit for 3-5 minutes and Enjoy!

Ask Holly

Hey Holly,

I am 35 weeks along with my third child (the first two being twins). I am hoping to do natural childbirth with this one. I was reading your posts on raspberry leaf tea and reading your birth story. I have the tea, but I would like some further information on how you prepared your tea once in labor. I saw you said to use 1 oz of the loose leaf tea and drink it as hot as possible. How much water did you use?

Thank you so much for your help and your constant encouragement in mothering! You are such a treasure.



Hi Wendy!

First of all, congratulations on your impending arrival! Thank you for your kind words, but I feel like mothers of twins are the true encouragement to mothering. It must be so intense and wonderful at the same time.

I have had lots of people write to ask about my red raspberry leaf tea protocol.

I wish I had photos of the whole leaf tea, my husband steeping it, and me trying to guzzle it down in 107 degree weather, but I was a little preoccupied…the directions I followed from the Rodale book are:

“On one ounce of raspberry leaves pour one pint of boiling water, cover and let steep for 30 minutes. Strain, and when the time for delivery is approaching drink the whole as hot as possible.”

This is what I did, and I really believe it helped.

Here’s to a quick and incredible delivery for you Wendy. YOU can do it. Your body was designed for this, and you have what it takes! Let me know if you have any other questions, and please let me know how it goes.


Ask Holly: What Is the Best Baby Carrier?

Hi Holly,
My niece is having her first baby, mine is now 16 years old!!! so its been a while, but I am looking for a great baby wrap, carrier for her, do you have any recommendations?

I’m glad you asked. I love baby wearing and have tried almost every kind of sling/wrap/carrier there is. (Except for the forward facing type, which is not recommended.)

If your niece will mostly be carrying the baby during the infant stage, I recommend the Moby Wrap. It is versatile and the baby feels secure and snuggled, while not restricting her airways or unnaturally forcing her legs into an uncomfortable position. I used the Moby from birth until 8 months with my son.

I also recommend the Ergo Baby Carrier. I carried my son in it until he was over 2 years old and more than 30 pounds. It is very user friendly and can be worn on the front or back.

Congratulations on your soon to be grand-niece!

Here is some more info on baby carriers.