Monday, November 30, 2009

Is Artificial Baby Milk Formula for Distaster ?

Friday, November 27, 2009

Review : The Naturally Healthy Pregnancy by Shonda Parker

It's Thursday, and time for another review of one of my favorite books to share with my clients who want to know how to build a foundation of healthy bodies and minds for pregnancy and birth.
Shonda Parker is a trusted expert in the field of natural health, specifically, nutrition and herbal therapies.
She is a childbirth educator and family herbalist and experienced mother. 
Her book, The Naturally Healthy Pregnancy is a must have for women who believe that nourishing their bodies is the first building block in growing a healthy baby. This book is your "essential guide to nutritional and botanical medicine for the childbearing years."
Shonda gives no-nonsense recommendations on various common discomforts of pregnancy and with each, she offers both lifestyle and dietary recommendations as well as nutritional and herbal recommendations.
Written from a distinctly Christian perspective, this book is also a rich source of spiritual support for mothers who are open to a Biblical perspective.
I highly recommend all of Shonda's books and products, and her website:
Naturally Healthy

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Massage During Pregnancy, Labor and Postpartum Nurtures Mothers

Claire Marie Miller, from whom I learned Integrative Reflexology, describes the benefits she received from massage in pregnancy and birth. I hope you will be inspired to seek out a massage therapist who is trained in pregnancy massage and treat yourself to the many benefits that massage therapy can bring. There are many qualified therapists out there, but if you would like to find one that has been trained by Claire herself, ( I highly recommend it !) then go to this link. Nurturing The Mother

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Good Eats for Moms and Moms-to-be

Today I would like to talk about nutrition. Briefly. And let me get this out of the way right out of the shoot. I am not a vegetarian, but I love most vegetarian cuisine and try to eat meatless meals several times a week. I am not doing a review of cookbooks today, but I wanted to share one of my favorite cooking divas, Mollie Katzen. She authored the Moosewood cookbooks, Vegetable Heaven, The Enchanted Broccoli Forest and others. her website is chock full of great recipes too. Please check it out.

So, back to nutrition. I am a La Leche League Leader. I like what they have to say about nutrition, which is to eat a wide variety of foods in as natural a state as possible. In other words, choose whole grains, like brown rice and whole grain bread, and try your hand at baking with whole grain flour. These days it is easy to find light or white flour that is actually whole grain, and it is delicious. I like King Aurthur flour at my grocery, but you can find others. I used to buy wheat berries and grind them myself, but since I don't cook for as many people these days, I just buy the flour.
When I did my midwifery apprenticeship, I learned a lot from my senior midwife who was a big believer in the work of Dr. Brewer, who said that pregnant women should have 100 grams of high quality protein every day. Of her clients, who followed the diet, there were healthy babies and mothers. So, some good building blocks for nutrition in pregnancy are lots of fresh fruits, veggies, whole grains and high quality proteins. You can find great ways to put these all together with yummy recipes from Mollie Katzen.

Monday, November 23, 2009

The International Breastfeeding Symbol

Read all about it !

Click the link to learn about the history and significance of the International Breastfeeding Symbol. 

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Review : The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding

If you are a breastfeeding Mom, or ever plan to be, this is the book to read. Written in everyday language, in a relaxed readable style, this book feels more like conversing with a wise and kind grandmother about common questions and concerns than it does reading a breastfeeding manual.
This book is the compilation of many years experience of supporting breastfeeding mothers. La Leche League  International is the world's leading authority on breastfeeding. La Leche League Leaders are mothers who have breastfed their own babies and go through a through training and accreditation process.
They offer mother to mother support in many communities around the globe. I have been a La Leche League Leader for five years. My children are grown and I am now a grandmother, but I love sharing what I experienced a s a breastfeeding mother with younger women. I am happy that my own daughter chose to breastfeed my granddaughter !
In this book, you will find answers to the questions that plague every new mother, such as :
~ How does human milk have an advantage over commercial formula ?
~ Do I need to prepare for breastfeeding during pregnancy ?
~ How do I breastfeed if I need to go back to work ?
~ How do I know my baby is getting enough to eat ?
~ How do I find time for my self and meet my baby's needs ?
~ How do I find the support I need to enjoy breastfeeding ?
~Does breastfeeding benefit me in any way ?
And much more !

The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding was first published in 1958 and, as of this writing, has gone through seven revisions. You can be sure that the information is up to date and thorough.
The book is full of everyday mother's stories and experiences, candidly shared.
I hope you will pick up a copy of this book for yourself or a friend who may be expecting a baby.
To find a La Leche League Leader near you, go to La Leche League International

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

C is for Co-sleeping !

is for Co-sleeping !
Co-sleeping is a great way to connect with your baby. You can tune in to his biological rhythms and him to yours. A baby who sleeps in close quarters with a parent is reassured by the presence of the one he loves. Babies are kept warmer when they sleep next to their Moms, and don't need lots of blankets. During sleep time together, mother's presence helps regulate the body temperature of the baby to the optimal level. 

Babies who sleep with their mothers also are at less risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) because they spend less time in the deepest stage of sleep, from which is it harder to recover from apnea (when the baby stops breathing).  Co-sleeping also insures better breastfeeding success and encourages the mother to breastfeed for longer intervals.  This leads to a better milk supply for the baby.  Babies who cosleep are less likely to have crying spells due to lower stress and anxiety.

There are also benefits for mother ! Skin to skin contact with baby is associated with greater oxytocin levels. Oxytocin is known as the "love hormone." The effects of oxytocin on Mom are that she is likely to experience less anxiety about mothering and be more tuned in to her baby. It is also easier for her to tend to nighttime feedings when she doesn't have to get out of bed and stumble down the hall to find the baby in the middle of the night when she is awakened by cries of hunger.  She gets back to sleep more easily after feedings and when Momma is happy, everybody's happy !

Here are some safe co-sleeping tips :

Make sure the baby is sleeping on a firm, non quilted surface.

Make sure that where baby sleeps is a smoke free environment.

Avoid bedsharing with anyone under the influence of alcohol or drugs or under the influence of anything at all that would make them less aware of the baby.

Avoid bedsharing with pets !

Avoid co-sleeping on any other furniture besides a bed. Babies can be easily caught between cushions and pillows and suffocate.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Time for Another Baby ?

So your baby isn't a baby anymore, she is a toddler ! Maybe she is still breastfeeding, or maybe she has weaned. Either way, you are getting that "baby fever" !
You love mothering your toddler, but you miss the feeling of a newborn in your arms. Your toddler will cuddle when she is tired, but is otherwise squirmy because she spend every waking moment exploring the world around her.
You think it would be lovely to have another baby, but how do you know you are ready ?
You've just gotten your toddler to sleep soundly through the night. Are you really ready to be up again, nursing every two to three hours round the clock?  You finally lost that baby weight. Are you ready to put the maternity clothes back on ?
All of these are questions that every mother has to answer for herself.

Maybe your last birth experience was not what you had hoped it would be. Maybe you had a cesarean and don't want to repeat that experience. How will you go about finding a doctor or midwife that will support your decision to VBAC ( Vaginal Birth After Cesarean )?
Websites like can help you plan a VBAC.

Maybe you didn't get breastfeeding off to a good start last time and you would like to breastfeed your next baby. Websites like La Leche League International can help you find a local La Leche League group to attend to get lots of support from experienced Leaders and other Moms.

Maybe you didn't take childbirth classes last time, or would like to take a different series this time.
Websites like Lamaze International can help you find an accredited childbirth educator.

Every birth and every baby are completely unique ! So think about all of your questions and concerns and find the resources you need to make your next birth the best it can be.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Breastfeeding Through The Holidays

Holiday planning can be stressful, especially for new mothers ! The hustle and bustle and family gatherings, while festive and fun, can leave new mothers exhausted and frustrated. There is even a phenomenon called "holiday weaning" because breastfeeding mothers can get so stressed out trying to accomplish their holiday "to do" list that breastfeeding rhythms get interrupted.
Here are a few tips to help make the holidays work while breastfeeding.

1. Agree with family and friends to limit gift giving. A great way to do this is to "draw names." Write everyone's name on a piece of paper, and put them in a basket. Everyone picks a name and prepares a special gift for one person. This limits the stress, saves money and gives the giver more time to make the one gift extra special.

2. Lower your expectations around holiday decorating. Allow other family members to decorate the tree while you direct operations from your rocking chair. The tree may not look the way you had planned, but you may really enjoy your "nursing tree" ! Take photos to remember the moment.

3. Take shorter shopping trips and take along your baby. That way you can nurse if need be. Feed before you leave the house, so that baby has a "full tank" which will give you more time to shop.  Be sure to bring a blanket to cover up if you are shy. And bring a long a cool bottle of water for yourself.

4. If you are invited to an office party, for example, where children are not usually included, consider bringing your baby and wearing her in a sling.

5. Wearing your baby in a sling can also be helpful if you prefer that your baby not be held by lots of people at holiday parties. This is especially good advice during cold and flu seasons.

6. Don't get stressed about cooking for holiday parties. Explain to family and friends that you are breastfeeding and that you need help. One great way to ease the burden on everyone is to ask everyone to bring a dish or two to share and make it a "pot luck" event. This usually results in everyone getting to show off their newest recipe and lots of delicious food is enjoyed by all.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Tender Gift of Doulas ~ Bring a Doula or Friend to Give Continuous Support During Labor and Birth

Dr. Kennell said "If doulas were a drug, it would be unethical not to use it !"

If you want to have a safe and healthy birth, one of the ways that you can increase your chances of this is to bring a "doula", which is a Greek word meaning female servant, to your birth. Your doula may be a professional, or another woman who has given birth and is committed to supporting your emotional and physical comfort as you go through the process of bringing your baby into the world.

I have posted about doulas before and listed resources to find a professional, as well as questions to ask when interviewing. There are many doulas in training who are willing to attend you for free or for a reduced fee. A skilled and comassionate doula is worth her weight in gold. Give yourself the gift of a doula.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Revenge of the Bullied

Today, I am happy to report that the sign in the OBs office at the Aspen Women's Clinic raised such ire, that there was a contest to "rewrite" the sign, with some pretty amazing results!
The contest is over, but here's the link.

I wish we could harness all of that passion and have a ZERO tolerance for this kind of behavior by obstetricians. Let's hope that someone has gone to the OBGYN forums and posted a link to these photos.
Let's send them a clear message that we're mad as H$#@ and we are not going to take it anymore.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Aromatherapy and Massage for Mother and Baby

Good things come in small packages, and today I want to share a very good thing with you !
This lovely little book, by Allison England, is one of my all time favorites.
It combines some basic but powerful instructions on how to safely, simply, and effectively combine the powers of touch and essential oils in making pregnancy, labor, birth and early motherhood a time to tune in to your body and mind and harness the benefits of relaxation and well being.
Allison England, a qualified aromatherapist and registered nurse, explains how to ease the more common discomforts of pregnancy, relieve the pain of labor as well as soothe and comfort restless babies and facilitate the bonding process.
She begins the book with the benefits of aromatherapy in pregnancy, a history of essential oils and their many uses, and a guide to choosing oils of the highest quality and theraputic value.
She covers all the information you need to know about the use of touch and aromatherapy from preconception to postpartum and includes a reference guide to essential oils.
Recipes on how to safely  blend for inhalations, compresses, diffusions, massage oils and creams, baths, hair rinses and much more, make this book a joy to read. There are beautiful sketches depicting techniques for massaging mom and baby. This is a great introductory text for mothers who want to know more a holistic lifestyle, and anyone who cares for women during the childbearing year.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Aromatherapy and Essential Oils for Birth

Aromatherapy is a very powerful modality and it has many wonderful benefits.
Today I would like to share just a few oils that can be beneficial during childbirth. Some of this information is adapted from the website of  which carries the highest quality aromatherapy products.
Please visit their site for all kinds of helpful information on essential oils and a great source for purchasing oils and aromatherapy products.

Here are some oils that can be used during childbirth. Not all oils are safe during pregnancy, but are fine to use once term labor has begun. 

A research study published in Nursing Times - March 2, 1994, Vol. 90, No. 9, "Using Aromatherapy in Childbirth"
Summary: A study of 500 women in the delivery suite. Essential oils used: Lavender, Clary sage, Peppermint, Eucalyptus, Chamomile, Frankincense, Jasmine, Rose, Lemon and Mandarine.
Methods of Application: (1) *Spray of 100 cc water with 2 drops e.o on face sheet, pillow, or bean bag or (2) 4-6 drops oil in bath or 2-3 drops of oil in footbath or (3) Inhalation or (4) Massage with 2 drops in 50 cc of almond oil.
Results: Overall satisfaction with the "aroma" - rid the hospital smell which decreased anxiety.
 Lavender - reduce maternal anxiety, pain relief, lighten mood, calm contractions if woman needed rest (Early in Labor)
Peppermint - Nausea & Vomiting
Clary sage - Increase Contractions

74% of women used no other form of pain relief

ROSE- Rose may help the Uterus to work efficiently. It is also said to have a relaxant effect for the pelvic floor, helping to open up the pelvis, much like an opening rose bud. This would best be used in the birth pool. The emotional effects of rose are very supportive during labor. It can be very overpowering if over used. So SUBTLE is the key word here! 1-drop in the bathwater would be plenty. Using guided visualization of the cervix opening as a rose bud can be very effective when used with the aroma of rose.

CLARY SAGE- Uterine tonic-again the adaptogenic qualities of Essential oils used in the correct dilution (SUBTLE) assists the uterus in effective contractions without artificially strengthening the contractions (as with pitocin drips given IV). It can be euphoric and very effective for relieving anxiety, it is calming to the nervous system. Some will not like the aroma of Clary sage alone, but mixing it with Rose, Lavender., will *almost* always produce a very pleasing aroma. Mixing to your tatse is important here, not a standard recipe! If you  do not like the aroma, the physical and emotional benefits will likely be negated. Fill a tea light diffuser bowl with water, 3 drops lavender, 3 drops clary sage and enjoy the aroma in the room. It may also have a lovely, calming effect on your caregivers !

LAVENDER-(augustifolia) is calming, soothing, and imparts a gentleness to the atmosphere when used in small amounts. It is also a very nice aromatic greeting for a newborn.You can mix a few drops with 1/4 cup of water and 1/4 cup grain alcohol for a nice linen spray, or put a few drops in a bowl of water to soak a cool washcloth in to wipe your brow or put around the back of your neck.

GERANIUM-uplifting and helpful in balancing emotional states. Said to be a circulatory stimulant.
Geranium can be added to the birth pool or diffused with your clary sage.

NEROLI-facilitates calm relaxed breathing (esp. with small amounts of Frankincense). The Cadillac for nervous anxiety. Can be a good choice during transition. One drop only on the pillow.

There are just a few of the many wonderful ways to use aromatherapy in labor and birth. Tomorrow, I will be reviewing one of my very favorite books on aromatherapy for the childbearing year !

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Choosing Your Doctor or Midwife ~ It's Never too Late to Make a Change

 Here are some questions to encourage a conversation and to help you get a sense of how your care provider might approach various circumstances with regard to your birth.
Remember, it's never too late to make a change if you do not feel comfortable with the care that you receive.

1. Is there a limit to the number of people who may be there to support me at my birth ?

2. Will I be able to eat and drink ?

3. What if my water breaks at, or near my due date  before contractions begin ?

4. What if my due date comes and goes with no labor ?

5. If labor needs help getting started, what might you recommend?

6. Do you perform episiotomies?

7. What is your cesarean rate ? 

8. What is your induction rate ?

9. How do you feel about VBAC ( Vaginal Birth After Cesarean) ?

10. How long have you been practicing ?

11. How do you feel about breech delivery ?

12. ( For homebirth midwives ) How do you handle back up ?

13. Who are your consultant obstetricians ?

14. Who are your helpers, and how well are they trained ?

15. How do you handle emergency transfers to the hospital ?

By asking a lot of questions, you can be better prepared to for a positive relationship with your care provider, with whom you need to be able to trust wholeheartedly as partner in helping you bring your baby into the world. And remember, your care provider is secondary to your participation and inner wisdom. If you feel like something is not quite right, follow your instincts and ask questions until you are satisfied with the answers you have been given. You are the best expert on what's best for you and your baby !

Monday, November 2, 2009

Doula Magic

 Have you thought of having a doula at your birth ?
Doulas are women who have been trained to offer skilled and compassionate support to women in childbirth. They do not take the place of the partner, but they provide gentle guidance to the mother and father during the birth process. Many doulas also offer prenatal and postpartum support in your home.
Doulas do whatever it takes to keep you as comfortable as possible during labor and birth. Some of the ways that they accomplish this is through;

massage or reflexology

helping you with breathing or positioning

guided imagery and relaxation techniques


a quiet reassuring presence


up to date information on what is safe and healthy when it comes to choices

facilitating your communication with your caregiver

and much more !

The doula stays with you, from start to finish, unlike your caregivers in a hospital setting, which rotate shifts. She knows your story from beginning to end.
I recommend that you choose a doula who has earned a certification, either as a doula or childbirth educator,  and has lots of experience helping parents have safe, normal and healthy births.

Here are some organizations that certify doulas and birth partners:


Here are some questions to ask a doula:

1. What type of training have you had ?

2. Tell me about your certification process ?

3. Tell me about your experience. How many births have you attended ?

4. What is your own personal philosophy of birth ?

5. How many clients do you take per month, and how do you handle back-up ?

6. What is your fee ?

Many women who have used a doula, feel that doulas have a special kind of magic, and that may be true.
But doulas don't have a magic wand that can make birth better if YOU are not informed and willing to take full responsibility for your birth and your choices. 
And choosing a doula is one of the best things you can do to have a safe and healthy birth !