New Mamas – Don’t Take Your Prenatal

mama wellness tip postpartum vitamin

You’ve probably been told to keep taking your prenatal vitamin postpartum.  But did you know that breastfeeding mamas have very different needs than a pregnant mama?  Everybody’s worried about your nutrition prenatally, but a lot less worry about nutrition for postpartum mothers unless there’s a concern about food allergies for newborns. I think it’s a lot more important than that!  Paying attention to our nutrients and nourishment postpartum can help prevent postpartum depression and increase longterm reproductive health.

In fact, the amount of milk a new mom produces in the first 4 months is roughly equivalent to the same amount of energy she used the entire pregnancy creating a human being!  That’s crazy.  It was a surprising statistic to me.  Your prenatal vitamin might not cut it.  You’ll also need to increase the amount of food you eat, and choose foods that are healing for the first 6-12 weeks.

Things to focus on with your diet and supplementation:

  • Extra B vitamins: especially B6 for seratonin and melatonin production.
  • Organic kelp: Supports your thyroid – which decreases function usually around month 4 postpartum (why some women have hair loss).  A healthy thyroid keeps your metabolism going well and wards off mood swings.  The iodine in kelp helps to support brain development in baby.
  • Vitamin C and copper : both good for development.
  • A small amount of fermented foods: to help metabolism and digestion.  Not too much though – they can produce gas which is particularly uncomfortable if you’ve had a surgical birth.
  • Bone broths: If you’re not a vegetarian the minerals found in bone broths are irreplaceable to healing postpartum.  Stock your freezer now and have a few sips or bowls of soup made with it each day.
  • Avoid sugar:  You’re gonna want it.  You’re tired and exerting more energy now with your new little one nursing and possibly an older child or a few of them.  But just say no!  Having sugar postpartum can lead to that crash feeling, increased anxiety and feelings of depression.
  • Fish oils: Especially in the interest of warding off baby blues and keeping your immune system up, add in the fish oils.  I really think Fermented Cod Liver Oil is the way to go – the fermentation process maintains the most nutrients and it’s sourced really well.
  • Herbs:  There are too many to list here!  A good one to start with is chamomile, as it aids with after birth pains and induces a feeling of calm or even sleepiness in some.

One supplement I recommend often (and it’s a newer one) is New Chapter PostNatal.  They ferment they’re whole food sources and add in supportive herbs. You might also encapsulate your placenta, drink a little beer for hops and possibly lactation teas.  I could go on and on!

Need your New Mama Guided Meditation?  Click here.

Ready to find hormonal balance and wellness postpartum?  Click here to schedule your Blissful Mam Breakthrough Session now!

Everyone has advice for fussy babies. Could this be the real cause of colic?

I picked up a copy of “The Happiest Baby on the Block” at a thrift store the other day.  I actually hadn’t read it, though talked with many parents who had found it beneficial.  I like that it emphasizes carrying, cuddling and not leaving baby to “cry-it-out”, especially before 6 months old.  I do wish it focused a little bit more on the individual child, and the individual parent-child relationship.  

causes of colic

Reading through this sparked my curiosity about the term “colic”.  The mayo clinic defines colic in the following way:

 Colic is often defined as crying more than three hours a day, three days a week for more than three weeks in an otherwise well-fed, healthy baby. What is most important for the diagnosis is sustained crying in an otherwise healthy baby for a regular period of the day lasting for several weeks.”

My mother says that I was colicky, both my sister and I, in fact.  And that the pain of that cry, coupled with the pain of the “spinal headache” she was left with after her epidural was nearly unbearable.  I can only imagine! Though I have no “scientific” proof of this, I have often suspected that my potentially unnecessary cesarean delivery, surgery at 6 weeks, and almost exclusive formula feeding (first dairy based and then soy based) had a lot to do with health problems I suffered during childhood. (Childhood asthma, allergies, and incorrectly diagnosed IBS).  

While reading this popular book I decided to explore and see if there is any current research that supported my theory. Here’s what I discovered:

Turns out that colicky babies are more likely to:
– be premies
– be born via cesarean
– have less than 10 hours of cuddling a day

Here’s why I think the first two are actually symptoms of the same problem: healthy gut flora! Scientists are finally realizing that the human body is most bacteria (called the microbiome”).  Everything from weight issues to disease are found to be connected to the amount of healthy bacteria in our bodies- something that has been previously ignored for a large part in the medical community, since antibiotics were hailed as the solution for every ache, bruise or sniffle. 

Turns out my theory actually has been examined.  2009 study found that babies with colic have more intestinal inflammation and the colic was resolved with probiotic treatment! 

So what do the first two things correlated with colic have to do with gut flora? 

1. Premature babies are more often born via cesarean or to a sick mama (more likely to have had antibiotics during pregnancy or labor).  They is also a newer theory that premature babies have been born to a mama who had an imbalance of healthy bacteria and transferred the bacteria to the fetus, stimulating labor to begin prematurely. Read about it here.

2. It is unclear whether bacteria are acquired during pregnancy or through the birth canal.  There seems to be some evidence for both theories, perhaps we acquire our bacteria both ways.  Either way, studies show that cesarean babies have lower amounts of healthy gut flora.  In fact, it is shown to disrupt their intestinal flora for 6 months after birth!  

So what to do for a colicky baby? (These are just some ideas, by no means a substitute for personal advice for your specific baby)

1. Get a good infant probiotic.  If you did have a cesarean in particular, or received antibiotics during labor for GBS or other infection, baby is at a much higher risk for not only colic, but thrush, and generally lower immunity.  (When we wipe out the harmful bacteria we also wipe out the good!) Replacing with a high quality infant probiotic will help!

2. Breastfeed.  Breastmilk has naturally occurring pro and pre-biotics.   These help your baby not only acquire immunity but a strong digestive system.  Breastfed babies have lower rates of allergies and illness. If you are breastfeeding, eat lots of home fermented foods!  These foods have incredibly high amounts of naturally occurring probiotics: Kombucha (homemade or store bought, as long as it’s labeled “raw”), homemade sauerkraut (store bought has been heat treated killing all bacteria), plain yogurt or kefir.  Check out the book The Art of Fermentation, or Nourishing Traditions for ways to get started. 

3. Get the book “The Happiest Baby on the Block“. Learn about “the 5s” for soothing baby.  Especially during the first 6 months of life avoid the “cry it out method” that has been shown to impair neurological development because of the incredible increase in stress  hormones in the baby’s body.  (I know there are a million theories about how to best get a baby to sleep well and often, and I’m not saying 100% of the time anything works for 100% of kids, I’m just saying, avoiding this method as a habit.  Being as consistent in your quick response to babies at this age as possible has positive effects on their stress level and therefore development.  I’m not talking about getting your two year old out of time out because they’re crying- that’s a discipline situation – newborns and infants cannot and should not be disciplined.) 

4. Spend lots of time cuddling, swaddling and baby wearing. This study (St James-Roberts I, Alvarez M, Csipke E, et al. 2006. Infant crying and sleeping in London, Copenhagen and when parents adopt a proximal form of care. Pediatrics 117:e1146-55 ) was cited in an article about colic stating that babies with less than 10 hours of cuddling a day were more prone to colic.  However, I’ve been unable to find this actual study. Anecdotal evidence supports that babies in baby carriers or arms of a caregiver most of the day tend to have less colic (perhaps because the care giver is more likely to be aware of baby’s needs more quickly due to proximity.) 

Give yourself a break! Parenting is hard, babies are all different, and there is no black and white, easy answer to any of it.  It’s all a relationship between each individual child and their individual care givers.  But hopefully this has enlightened you a bit and maybe added some tools to your toolbox.  Happy mothering!

Need more help with this?  Feeling overwhelmed?  Schedule your Blissful Mama Breakthrough Session now by clicking here.

The One Thing You Can Control About Birth…

What’s the one thing you can control about birth?
Wait for it…..drum roll….
Your Postpartum Plan!

If you haven’t thought much about what happens after baby is born, you’re not alone!  Many moms focus so much on preparing for birth (and you should!) they don’t think much about what happens postpartum.

But you should!  I wrote a guest post for Modern Alternative Mama about six things you should know about postpartum (that you probably don’t know!!).  Check out that post here.  I recommend hiring postpartum doula and creating a calendar.
 
If you have had surgery, you will need a lot of rest and healing time.  But even if you delivered vaginally you will need a lot of care.  More than you think!  Mamas who have had an unmedicated birth might feel that “birth high” for quite awhile after birth, and breastfeeding might be going beautifully! But often times a week or two in, things change.  Hormones can drop quickly, baby goes through a growth spurt and suddenly breastfeeding isn’t as successful as it was…  
 
Rest assured, regardless of how much your baby sleeps, how much milk you produce, or how perfect your birth is, you will need help.  Why not plan ahead of time? I am a big fan of the POSTPARTUM CALENDAR. It’s easy to make and makes your life much easier. 
Try using Google Docs to make a spreadsheet or Google Calendar.  You can create a specific calender just for postpartum.  Like this:
postpartum plan

 
You can choose a color for your calendar if you already use Google Calendar, so that it’s separate from your other calendars. 
 Then you can share the calendar with friends and family you would like to help or visit you after baby is here.
 
Hit the arrow button to the right of the calendar name to get this drop down menu:

It will ask you to share with specific people like this:
Just enter in the email addresses  you’d like to include…
 
You can even select how much information each person sees…
(Close up photo of that drop down menu:)
And that’s it! Voila! Everyone can edit the calendar all on their own and make sure you’re taken care of!
Still feeling overwhelmed? Need help writing a more detailed postpartum plan (maybe one with herbs, stocked cabinets, foods that help healing go faster, and yoga poses for restoration?) No worries!  Schedule your Blissful Mama Breakthrough Session with me now, by clicking here.

SuperBoobs

Did you know that breastfeeding can help immunize your child?  Studies have shown that breastfed babies possess higher antibodies to certain diseases than formula fed babies.  This can mean that they possess a natural immunity to certain diseases and/or any vaccinations they may be given will be more effective!  Here are a few studies that demonstrate this:

asthma

active immune response to  Haemophilus influenzaetype b vaccine

lowers the risk for hospital admission as a result of infections among infants

provides pain relief during vaccinations

greater maturity in the development of the immune system of breast-fed infants

Neonatal Immunization against Respiratory Viruses

Evidence that breast milk helps neutralize HIV

Mamas and Babies and Scales

I’ve been hearing this same thing a lot lately.  I mean A LOT.  The thing I’m hearing is that “the baby isn’t gaining enough weight, you must formula feed.” It seems that so many OBs would have us believe that the babies are too big to come out and too small to survive without formula.  Hmmm….

What I am NOT doing in this post:

  • attempting to determine for you personally whether formula is in the best interest of you and your child  
  • determine whether you caregiver is correct 
  • make a diagnosis for your child
  • make you feel bad for choosing or being forced to formula feed
  • in anyway blame mothers if they were unable to breastfeed and wanted to
  • (Here is a great explanation about why when I am promoting breastfeeding because of it’s obvious overwhelming benefits, I am NOT at all condemning mothers who choose otherwise.  Why I argue in defense of breastfeeding mothers is because I actually see them targeted more than formula-feeding mothers. )
What I AM doing:
  • providing some additional info you may not have received from your OB
  • giving you some questions to consider when making the choice about adding in or switching to formula
  • sharing some stories
Why? 
Well, as I said, I’ve been hearing this a lot lately.  A friend of mine told me that with each of her two children, and with each of her mother’s 6 children the OB told her the same thing.  A recent client of mine had her OB tell her this, and in fact, call family services because she refused to start formula feeding based on their assessment 48 hours after birth.  This is not ok with me.  I also refuse to believe that this many infants are somehow failing to get the genetic coding that allows them to feed and gain weight the way we were designed to.  
There are definitely circumstances when I know formula is the necessary choice for the mother.  I also know that there are several things that can occur during birth that can really interfere with breastfeeding success: cesarean, taking baby away right after birth, circumcision, giving baby sugar water etc.  There are also cases that the choice is taken from us- like a recent nanny client of mine who sadly was undergoing many MRIs and X-rays and treatment due to a recent discovery of thyroid cancer and therefore was forced to stop breast-feeding her twins at 6 weeks and it devastated her.  I have another friend who , due to financial circumstances had to return to work because her husband was unemployed.  The stress of trying to pump in an unfriendly environment and return home to a fussy baby was just too much for her, and formula eased her stress about the whole thing.  There are lots of circumstances.  But I really don’t think this “the baby isn’t gaining weight fast enough” can be true all the time. 

This Dr. has a lot to say on the subject.  Check out his website here.
This was my favorite academic article on the topic: World Review of Nutrition and Dietetics; Breastfeeding Kinetics.  Incredibly Comprehensive compared to the rest of the literature.  I encourage you to take a look at it, especially if you feel that my points aren’t well supported or are misinformed

Many Hospital procedures interfere with the physiological practices of establishing milk production…” 

Things I have learned about this recently:
  • Babies who are formula fed gain weight faster due to the high amount of sugars in formula, much more than naturally occurs in colostrum or breast milk. 
  • Because of this, more does not always equal better. Gaining weight just for the sake of gaining weight should not be a goal, and has actually been identified as a contributing factor in childhood obesity. 
  • The scale used to measure baby weight gain  is not specific for breastfed babies.  This doesn’t make sense to me.  The CDC’s website says that breastfed babies and formula fed babies show different weight gains and their weights look very different at various ages. Since most Americans do not breastfeed exclusively or for very long, I’m not convinced these scales are accurate enough to not only suggest but threaten that mothers add formula to their feeding schedule.  It doesn’t seem to judge them both by the same scale or by averages.
  • We do no support breast feeding moms very well.   Handing out formula as marketing in hospitals should not be allowed. As evidenced by the negative response to the Times article about attachment parenting and prolonged breastfeeding, American culture is not very encouraging of breast-feeding mothers. (Hence the average American B.feeding time of 3 months) teaching mothers about the importance of breastfeeding (immunity, neurological function, metabolic function etc)should happen more often. 
  • The following hospital procedures can interfere with successful breastfeeding: 
    • Newborn procedures performed before baby has been allowed to breastfeed (most will feed within 20 minutes or so after birth if left on mothers chest)
    • Circumcision. (especially very close to birth.  the trauma of surgery and the common practice of giving sugar water to sooth them can interfere with the developing feeding cycle)
    • Epidural. (there is some debate about why this is true.  Some say because the baby is lethargic from side effects of the epidural. Others say because the artificial blocking of pain interferes with the mother’s natural response of endorphins and natural opiates and therefore the infant doesn’t receive those either)
    • Immunizations.  There is some evidence that causing painful experiences to occur, and taking mother from child immediately or within the first couple hours after birth can interfere with breastfeeding. Breastfeeding itself actually increases your child’s immunity drastically, and there has been research that breastfeeding (I believe it’s for longer than 6 months, but I’ll have to fact check that one) can cause immunity.  The one study I can recall was for the rotavirus.  (But there are many more things they have found breast milk to immunize against.  Feel free to email me for all the nerdy academic articles!)
    • NICU.  Infants who are taken to the NICU after birth have a harder time establishing breastfeeding. 
 (I am of course not suggesting these are the only factors. There are of course many other factors such as maternal illness and community support. Studies have shown socioeconomic status, race, age and education also factor in.)
In conclusion, what I believe, as with every other aspect of birth and parenting, you deserve all the information.  Ask questions.  Stand up for your right to parent your child the way you see fit.  And trust your motherly intuition.  That’s what it’s there for!
THIS is some more information on breastfeeding with some extra resources for you if you want to, are, or are curious about breastfeeding. 

Chiropractic Care..Moms and Kids

Improvement of Infant Colic and Reflux Following Chiropractic Care: A Case Report & Selective Review of the Literature

The above article (I could only get access to the abstract) is a case study on a colicky baby improving with chiropractic adjustments.  Most of my evidence is anecdotal, like my nephew improving so quickly from his broken leg at the age of three months through chiropractic care, or a doula client of mine receiving chiropractic care for a breech baby.  (The mother and the OB who performed the external version on her to flip the baby both felt that the chiropractic care loosened up her round ligaments and pelvis in order to make the version successful. ) It might have been the case that consistent prenatal chiropractic care with the Webster technique for more of her pregnancy might have caused that baby to turn on its own- we can’t really be sure!  I have heard many other anecdotal stories of babies turning from chiropractic care and acupuncture as well.

But chiropractic care can even be wonderful for a newborn, or infant.  Birth is hard work!  In the case of an unmedicated labor, the baby has initiated a cocktail of hormones in the mother, and then goes through the (long or short) process of being squeezed and released.  While it is all very natural and healthy even (I’ve once read that the squeezing pattern of the uterus teaches the infant to use it’s lungs – squeeze and release.)

If the birth had complications or a care provider that was impatient – the baby may have been pulled or vacuumed by the crown of the head.  You can see how the little spine might be even more out of alignment given the drastic nature of some frantic birth situations.  But even in the calmest and smoothest of births their small frames are working hard and could find some relief postpartum through gentle pediatric chiropractic care.

Something to think about!  If you need a reference for an experienced chiropractor in the area – see Dr. Ashley at Old Towne Family Chiropractic.  It was my first experience (of many) at a chiropractic office with several extra intake forms of prenatal information. (Plus she offers family discounts!)

Some other benefits from Chiropractic care that might be helpful to you :
Infertility:
Resolution of Infertility, Healthy Pregnancy and Delivery in a Patient Previously Diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome: A Case Report and Selective Review of Literature



Happy Mothering!

More on Vaccines…

I’ve created a first draft of a vaccine chart to make my personal decisions about what vaccines we feel are necessary for our children.  If you’d like to view it it’s available here:

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/pub?key=0AtbOQ9KdeviwdFJLb1g4bVJlWWtJdEQ3X1Itek5UZmc&output=html

Here are some more great breakdowns about vaccines:

Argument Against Vaccines.

Is Polio a Threat?

Risk/ Benefit MMR

Risk/Benefit DTap

Risk/Benefit Hib, Flu, Chicken Pox

What is Herd Immunity All About?

10 Bad Reasons Not to Vaccinate

What Kind of Booty Will She Have?

Things to think about:  
Cloth Diapers?? (not just for grandmas anymore)

Wondering what kind of diapers system you want for your newborn? Check out this blog for some info and read on!

There are a sea of things to spend your money on when you have a newborn- from blankets and pacifiers, to diapers and toys.  It’s easy to get lost and overwhelmed.  But one of the things you should definitely take the time to do a little research on is their diapers.  

Many parents are opting for cloth diapers over the disposable diapers.  Here are a few reasons why they have made this choice and a few things you should investigate for yourselves as parents:


                                   

Cost:

On average, parents will buy 6-8 thousand diapers per child between the ages of 0 and 3.  That’s a lot of cash!  Somewhere between $2k and $3k.  The average cost for using cloth diapers for that age is around $800.  Plus they can be re-used for more children, which increases your savings even more.  Financially speaking, cloth is the way to go.

Environment:

The average child goes through 6-8 thousand diapers- and over 80% of them end up in landfills.  Diapers do not breakdown, and are therefore going to be hanging around on the planet for who knows how long.  The idea that they’re “disposable” isn’t really true, since they never really go away!

Health:

It turns out that the companies that create disposable diapers aren’t too careful about their choices of ingredients.  Many parents find that their children repeatedly develop rashes and irritations and there is suspicions that this is not always due to “sensitive skin” but perhaps to the toxic chemicals that are used in creation of disposable diapers.  
These chemicals include:

Dioxin which in various forms has been shown to cause cancer, birth defects, liver damage, skin diseases, and genetic damage, is a by-product of the paper-bleaching process used in manufacturing disposable diapers and is present in trace amounts in the diapers themselves.

Tributyl-tin (TBT) – a toxic pollutant known to cause hormonal problems in humans and animals. Disposable diapers also contain sodium polyacrylate. If you have ever seen the gel-like, super absorbant crystals in a disposable, then you have seen this first hand. Sodium polyacrylate is the same substance that was removed from tampons because of its link to toxic shock syndrome. No studies have been done on the long-term effects of this chemical being in contact with a baby’s reproductive organs 24 hours a day for upwards of two years. Studies have also been done to show that the chemical emissions from disposable diapers can cause respiratory problems in children.


Sodium Polyacrylateis a super absorbent chemical compound that is used in the fillers of many disposable diapers. It is composed of cellulose processed from trees that is mixed with crystals of polyacrylate. This chemical absorbs fluids and creates surface tension in the lining of the diaper to bind fluids and prevent leakage. Sodium polyacrylate is often visible as small gel-like crystals on the skin of babies and is thought to be linked to skin irritations and respiratory problems. This chemical was removed from tampons due to toxic shock syndrome concerns. As it has only been used in diapers for the last two decades, there is not yet research on the long-term health effects of sodium polyacrylate on babies.

Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)-Disposable diapers frequently contain chemicals called volatile organic compounds (VOCs). These include chemicals such as ethylbenzene, toluene, xylene and dipentene. According to the EPA, VOCs can cause eye, nose and throat irritation, headaches, damage to the liver, kidney and central nervous system as well as cancers.

Plus, the cloth ones are just cute!

Read as much as you can and check out what options you think are best for you!  There are many choices as far as what kind of cloth diapers, style, and cleaning services.  


This site has a great list!
http://allaboutclothdiapers.com/my-recommendations/


These are great resources:
http://www.realdiaperassociation.org/diaperfacts.php

http://www.livestrong.com/article/111348-chemicals-disposable-diapers/

http://www.webmd.com/parenting/baby/diapering-a-baby-9/diaper-choices

http://www.drmomma.org/2011/04/chemicals-in-disposable-diapers.html



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