Category Archives: Pregnancy

Life happens. About birthing, parenting, and expectations.

I love listening to new parents planning the whole future with their children. Some say, “I will have many drugs at my birth and be happy with it, I will formula feed, will never co sleep, I will keep a set schedule, and I will do exactly what the doctor says when the doctor says it”. While others say “I will have an all natural birth in my living room, exclusively breast feed and never ever give my baby non human milk ever, baby wear, co sleep, not vaccinate, not circumcise, and take mommy and me yoga classes.”

I, being the natural living advocate I am, obviously lean to the latter extreme BUT the more I read the more I need to speak up about a few things.

You can not predict where life will take you, from the beginning of your labor, into your parenting adventure, you have very little control over what life throws at you. Accept that now and your life will be much easier. I am not saying do not be prepared. PLEASE by all means read as much as you can, learn what you can, educate your self to the point where your brains feel like they will explode from your head with knowledge and POWER! But I have to say, when that labor starts, when that baby is born, when you are so sleep deprived and exhausted because you have not had a full night sleep in 11 months, you might change your mind. You  might feel lost. You might feel like a failure. I assure you you are not a failure as a parent no matter what happens, because you my friend tried. There are people who don’t even do that.

As an example of what I am talking about: I had planned an all natural labor with my daughter using Hypnobirthing. We took the classes, did the exercises, and were convinced we would not have an epidural. I read many many books on child birth, not just hypnobirthing, and was convinced that I could do this with no medical intervention. I had constant braxton hicks contractions for about three weeks before going into labor, strong labor like contractions (call it what you like) for about a week before going into real labor, and then was in “real labor” for over 42 hours!

I know my body was gearing up, but am pretty sure my body needed some time to rest between all the practice and the actual long ass labor. I lost my mucous plug on Sunday and, this being my first time, went into the hospital because I thought my water broke. I was not prepared for the extremely large amount of goo that comes out of you when you loose your mucous plug. Its pretty gross. They said I was still about 1cm and sent me home, Monday I went to the doc for my normal appointment and was still not super dialated so we went home, that night I did not sleep well because the contractions were JUST strong enough that I could not sleep.

All day Tuesday I had contractions but not picking up in strength or consistency so I went to an acupuncturist to help pick things up. The Acupuncturist said that this would send me instantly into full labor and to be ready to go into the hospital. It picked things up a bit but my body still had to gear up, slowly, all day. That night I was still having contractions, they were getting stronger but not closer and I was TIRED. I needed SLEEP so I had Mike take me to labor and delivery to get some ambien so I could sleep. The doc insisted on checking me before giving me drugs (did I mention all I wanted was sleep?) and I was at 6 cm! Without much pain at all, just early labor I was at 6 cm! I was so excited I could have peed. He asked if I wanted an epidural and I said no. They respected that.

We went into the labor room and I hopped in the bath. Laboring in the bath was great. I was talking to my doula and we were laughing and joking when I was not breathing/moaning through the labor. I want to point out failure #1 I did not have a silent labor. In the hypnobirthing videos none of the woman made noise. Let me tell you moaning and making noise through the contractions helped a lot. So did talking and laughing. Failure #2 we did not do the hypnobirthing exercises. It wasn’t right for me at the time. Having a good time and laughing was much more effective for me. I labored in the tub, moaned, had cool washcloths coming on to my brow constantly (thanks to my wonderful doula) and only had to get out of the tub occasionally to get monitored. Getting out of the tub sucked and was very painful. I wish they would have allowed intermittent monitoring in the tub in the hospital. We figured that since I was at 6 cm I would be transitioning and done soon. I labored for hours and hours and was checked at least twice on the monitors and never progressed past 8 cm. It was terrible. I decided to get past the transition (that never came) I would try IV pain killers. They helped for about 15 minutes and then the pain was worse. I knew that might happen, the books told me so, but I needed something to take the edge off. My body was TRYING to transition but it was just too tired! We even snuck food during labor to try to help get me the energy I needed. We broke my bag of waters to try to get the contractions stronger, and all that did was make things hurt more. Remind me not to do that again.

My doc suggested pitocin and I hesitated because I really wanted a natural birth and damn it if I had gotten this far the baby HAD to come out eventually right? We discussed options and decided to do an internal contraction monitor to see if my contractions were strong enough to be effective. Long story short although they felt very strong, they were not strong enough, and I needed pitocin. At this point I decided to get the epidural. I was not pushed into it, I just knew I needed a brake. My body was exhausted and my mind was frazzled and the room was stressful and not the peaceful place I wanted my child born into. Pitocin and the epidural were failures #4 and 5.

After I got the epi we discussed starting on a very low dose of pitocin and not upping the dose unless I was not progressing and she asked me first. I still had control of my labor, and the doctor respected my decision. I did not get a nap even after the epi. They told me to try but I was just too excited for my baby to be coming soon. It still took hours before I was ready to push, but my doula and husband both got to eat and nap during that time so that was good. I talked to a very nice nursing student during that time who was watching me labor naturally because it was such an odd thing to see. I felt like I failed her too but she was sweet and stayed with me until the end of her shift.  Apparently she had never seen anyone even go that far into labor without drugs so I am glad I could at least give her that.

Finally after who knows how long (time really ceases to exist when you are in labor) I felt pressure to push. I was 10 cm but she had not descended yet. She wasn’t budging and I felt like pushing so I did. I pushed and pushed. I also pooped on the table. Yes ladies and gents, that happens, get over it. I pushed for about an hour and a half and the doc came in and said she was not coming down the birth canal and I might need a C-Section. I asked if the baby was under any distress and she said no so I decided to push some more, and push I did! I do want to note that I do not think I was ineffectively pushing because of the epi. I could feel what was going on because I let the drugs ware down a bit before the pushing, and as it continued to go on a long time my supportive husband did not let me hit the pain button again when I wanted. I could feel plenty when she was born. When I finally stubborned her into the birth canal after 2 1/2 hours she shot out! The doc was not ready to catch her so the nurse held her head in with two fingers, told me not to push, so the doc could gown up. I yelled many obscenities in that minute or two that it took the doc to get gowned and ready. Ellie came out two pushes later with the cord around her neck and they whisked her away to the table to suction her lungs because she had muconium. Failure #6. I very much wanted to hold her right away but was bleeding a lot and they had to take care of her. Mike was with her and they were fine. He was crying because he was so happy and I remember thinking I was broken for not crying. I was just happy she was fine. I was apparently bleeding profusely and they had to give me the rest of the pitocin to slow it.

It turns out a 9lb 6oz baby needs a little extra encouragement to leave the uterus some times. My beautiful daughter came out angry at her eviction and her first picture looks like she is about to punch out the nurse. I love her.

Mommy’s little heavy weight champion… Thankfully the swelling went down quickly. 

Notice how the new born hat does not fit that huge head.

Finally, once I was stitched and not in immediate danger of dying of blood loss they let me hold her and encouraged me to have skin to skin contact and try to nurse her. Breast feeding, although it is natural and is what my body is made to do, is not easy to start doing, especially when you have never done it before. She rooted right away but we struggled with latch and I was terrified that my huge boobs would suffocate and kill her. Seriously terrified. The cradle hold was not working for us at all. Failure #7

The point I am trying to get across is that although we may have the most detailed and strict plans things change, and we may not be able to get that birth we always dreamed of but damn it, the baby was born. She was born happy and healthy and we figured out nursing pretty quickly once I finally stopped trying to nurse her like an A or B cup, and learned to nurse her like the E cup I am. Foot ball hold, I might add, is amazing.

I felt guilty for failing at my birth plan. I failed to have the natural labor I wanted. My child was not brought into the world naturally and peacefully like I wanted and I felt so horrible. I am pretty sure this contributed to my postpartum depression.

After looking back on it 18 months later, on the brink of having #2 I have to say the birth went exactly as it should have. It would have gone much differently had I not gotten the medical intervention. I was educated enough and well informed enough to make the right decisions for the birth and I probably would not change anything about it. I could have chosen not to go with an OB and gone with a midwife instead, but with the health issues I had during my pregnancy I don’t think that would have gone well either.

This time I am handling things differently. I know I can still get into they hypnobirthing mindset like I did last time without the exercises. I am practicing my breathing, and listening to the positive birthing affirmations I got from the class last time. I have a midwife group that I love and am very excited to work with. They respect my decisions to use herbs and essential oils as a part of my labor and delivery to help manage issues that might arise like they did last time. I even made up a word document for them and Mike to refer to if any problems should arise. I plan on having this baby naturally, without any medication, but accept the fact that if I need it it is there and if I need it it is not the worst thing I can do.

I know now that although I have everything planed and prepared things may not, and probably will not, go as planed so I mentally have no plans. Just outlines of what I would like to happen. This is helping me be much more calm and mentally prepared for this birth than the last.

I am ready, mentally, for this baby. I know that labor will go the way it needs to. I hope you know that as well. I hope you are well informed and able to make good decisions in the moment. I hope you have a practitioner who supports your decisions and needs.

And all those failures during labor, did that make me a bad parent? No. They were just missed expectations percieved as failures. Some of my other parenting failures were some of the best decisions we have ever made.

We said we would not bed share. We never really even considered it an option. Ellie was going to sleep in her basinette for a few months and then her crib in her nursery. It turns out Ellie would not sleep anywhere but near mommy for the first few months of life and mommy was so exhausted that we decided to bed share. I am pretty sure I got more sleep than the average breast feeding mamma who’s child does not sleep in bed with them. Boob, sleep, roll over, boob, sleep. It was amazing. Co-sleeping is not right for everyone and be sure to do it SAFELY but I have to say that was a big failure turned into a win. This time we have an arms reach co-sleeper ready for #2 but if that doesn’t work, we will get the little co-sleeping snuggle nest thing for baby to be sure he is safe again.

Parenting is an ongoing learning experience. I think we all have the best intentions but as we go along this journey we see we may have been wrong about decision A, or may reconsider something we may not have though possible before.

So, dear new parent, please educate your self as much as you can, but if your plan does not work out do not feel bad, or feel guilt, or think you are a failure. You are doing your best and we have no control of the outside circumstances of life. What you can control is how you react to them. I am here to support and encourage as much as I can!

What is your advice for new or soon to be parents?

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OW! Safe, natural, and effective pain relief while pregnant.

Pregnancy is an amazing, wonderful, life changing journey that has its wonderful ups and not so wonderful downs. For some there are more downs than up. For those of us with chronic pain issues, pregnancy can pose a serious problem to our pain management routines.

I have two bulged disks in my back from working in a hospital. I have gone to physical therapy, massage therapy, chiropractors, acupuncturists, yoga, you name it. About three years after the injury I was finally able to manage the pain without drugs most of the time, only taking Ibuprofen occasionally for inflammation or pain.

Unfortunately for my back I got pregnant which made things flare up again. During my first pregnancy I mostly suffered through the pain, popping Tylenol like it was no ones business, and got massages at least once a week. As the pregnancy progressed and I got bigger (much much bigger), my back pain actually eased up. According to my wonderful massage therapist I had in Spokane, I have a deep curve in my lower back (she used the real term for this which escapes me at the moment), and as I got bigger the curve straightened out. Woo hoo!

This pregnancy is so much different! I had been doing hatha yoga for about 2 months prior to getting pregnant which helped manage the aches/pains/sore muscles early in the pregnancy. My body was much stronger going into things this time so the pain issues did not start until about 20 weeks. I stopped doing hatha around 12 weeks pregnant because the forward bends and twists were just too much for me and baby.

When my pain issues surfaced this time I really had no idea what to do. There is no tea I have found to help with pain that is safe to drink during pregnancy. Tylenol was not cutting it, and all the nice anti-inflammatory drugs are a no go. To top it off Colorado insurance laws suck, so although my insurance will pay for massage, no massage clinics around accept our insurance! This means I have to pay out of pocket and hope to be reimbursed. That sucks.

On my search for something to help the pain I went to my Apothecary and bought a brilliant oil called “Sore Muscle Oil” which is amazing and works well during massages to really loosen up the muscles that are bugging you. The oil is a bit pricey so I modified it a bit and started making my own back pain oil, this time with a little more kick. Recipe to follow in another post. The other problem with the oil is you really need a back rub to get it to sink in. It is not an instant topical relief.

Since I started using doTERRA oils to help supplement my natural health care journey, I did some research to see what oils were good to use for pain and inflammation. doTERRA has oil blends that are specifically designed for pain and inflammation but they have peppermint in them, which is not recommended for use when you are still breast feeding, which I am, and will be again shortly. So on the search I went and I found Frankincense.

Frankincense is known best as a holy oil from the middle east, but did you ever consider why it was such a cherished commodity? If you don’t have time to watch that big long video let me just say that this oil has a variety of uses, from anti-inflammatory, anticatarrhal, anticancer, antidepressant, anti-infectious, antiseptic, antitomor, immune stimulant, and sedative. It is pretty awesome stuff with many many uses.

We have been using Frankincense to help with the pain in my  husbands foot from gout so I figured what the heck, and rubbed it on my back on a particularly angry spot. I probably used about 3 drops. The pain I was having was gone in about 30 seconds and stayed away for about 6 hours. It was amazing. I now apply it every night before I go to bed topically to relieve pain, and prevent night time pain I might have, and have recently been taking it internally*, 3 drops, twice a day to help reduce inflammation and swelling, and to help fight this terrible cold we have been having.

It helps reduce my pain and inflammation drastically, and has helped me sleep better because my hip pain from side sleeping every night has been terrible.

The prenatal yoga and chiropractor were really helping me manage the pain, but the frankincense is what is reducing the inflammation and keeping the pain away. I would recommend all three if you are combating pain, especially while pregnant as there are no scary side effects to the oil. I have also heard great things about acupuncture for pain management while pregnant but have not had the chance to use it during pregnancy.

What do you do to naturally manage your pain during pregnancy?

* do not take any essential oils internally that are not approved for oral use as a dietary supplement. doTERRA Frankincense is Approved by the FDA for use as a Food Additive and Flavoring Agent. Always use caution when using essential oils and be sure anything you use is 100% pure therapeutic grade essential oils and is labeled for therapeutic use (not aromatic)

For more information on doTERRA oils feel free to contact me or check them out here. There are more affordable ways to get the oils than the retail price so be sure to ask for more information.

Shared on The Morris Tribe’s Blog Carnival.

Geranium Essential Oil

I ordered some essential oils to help ease labor and delivery when the time comes and one of the recomended oils was Geranium. I have never worked with geranium before and was not sure of its effects on me so I figured I would give it a go.

I decided to make an anti dandruff hair oil tonight and used the geranium as one of the ingredients and I LOVE the smell! Floral, but not too strong, it is relaxing and calming but less strongly scented/potent smelling than lavender.

I think I will add this to my scented set of wool dryer balls once the current oil wears off. I would love to smell this all day.

From the doTERRA website:
Geranium Essential Oil
Pelargonium graveolens

Geranium offers outstanding benefits for soothing skin and is a common ingredient in many skin care products. Also useful for joint support and tempering minor aches and pains, geranium’s calming effects make it a popular choice for many essential oil users*. For aromatic or topical use.

Properties: Antibacterial, anticonvulsant, antidepressant, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, astringent, diuretic, insect repellent, refreshing, relaxing, sedative, tonic

There are numerous uses for geranium but I will just list a few here relating to pregnancy and labor, seeing as that is why I got it, although I want you to know it is good for so much more! If you have any questions ask me I have some very good books that might have the answers.

Geranium is safe for use int he second and third trimesters of pregnancy and is used to treat exhaustion, varicose veins, and edema. It is a known hormonal stimulant so listen to your body and how it reacts to this oil, especially when pregnant. (Essential Oils For Maternity published by Abundant Health, LLC)
It can be used in a massage oil for back pain/sciatica/leg cramps/perineal preparation (I am making an oil for sciatica soon); a foot rub for edema mixed with lemon, wild orange, or lavender; Hemorrhoids (you know the ones you get after pushing a melon out your lady bits); sore breasts, and stretch marks.

It is calming, reduces agitation, bleeding, dysmenorrhea, environmental stress, gall stones, insomnia, pelvic pain syndrome, physical stress, PMS, post labor, varicose veins, vertigo, and has numerous skin benefits. (Modern Essentials, A Contemporary Guide to the Theraputic Use of Essential Oils)

As you can see it is a great feminine ally, and one all woman should have on hand.

One of the things I love about doTERRA oils is their purity, being Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade oils are tested bottle by bottle for purity, to be sure they are 100% pure essential oils without pesticides or chemical residue. It insures the plants used on the oils were harvested at the right time, and very high quality. This makes it the only brand I trust to use while pregnant, breast feeding, and on my child. For more information on doTERRAs quality control compared to other manufacturers you can read here.

How do you use Geranium Essential Oil? I would love some recipes/protocols on how you have used it and how it has benefited you.

Oh my achy pregnant body.

I am almost 32 weeks pregnant. This pregnancy really has been pretty good to me up until recently. I have not thrown up at all except for when I had that horrible stomach bug that put me in the hospital. I have not gained a lot of weight, had very little swelling, and no real “scares”. It has been pretty nice compared to my extremely crappy pregnancy I had with Ellie.

Now that we are getting closer to the end my body HURTS. I have not been able to get my weekly massage because my husband has been sick for a month, and I can definitely feel it. Out of sheer desperation I remembered salt baths were supposed to ease muscle pain and it worked! I have been taking a bath with a combination of Epsom salt, Himalayan sea salts, and some oils every night and my body feels much better afterward. I have had much less pain and cramping, it stops my braxton hicks contractions that I have been having at night, and reduces the pain I feel in my hips when sleeping. My skin is softer and feels healthier than it has in a long time. And, on a side note, since I have been taking this bath nightly my CRAZY HORRIBLE pregnancy dreams/nightmares have not been occurring. I am loving this added side effect as the dreams were truly terrifying.

Ow my achy pregnant body bath:

1c Epsom Salt
1c Sea Salt (Celtic, Himalayan, Dead Sea, or “real salt”)
1/2c Baking Soda (aluminum free)
1/4-1/2c Chamomile Olive Oil Infusion
4-6 drops Lavender Essential Oil
 
Combine in hot bath water (no more than 120 degrees, you are pregnant after all), mix with hands until salt dissolves. There may be a little bit of extra graineyness, that is the extra minerals in your sea salt. Add essential oil drops right before getting into the tub to get the full benefit of the oils. If you add them too soon the bath room will smell lovely, but the oil will have evaporated before it absorbs into your skin. 
 
Enjoy your bath with a nice glass of water or tea. Soak at least 20 minutes. 
 
Be sure to clean out your bath with baking soda when you are done so the next person to use it does not slip and fall! 
 

How do these ingredients help?

Epsom salt is not actually a salt, but a naturally occurring mineral compound of magnesium and sulfate. Magnesium and sulfate are readily absorbed in the skin making bathing in it an easy way to absorb all the great health benefits. Magnesium plays many important roles in the body including enzyme regulation, reducing inflammation, improving muscle, nervous, and digestive function. Sulfate improves the absorption of nutrients, flushes toxins, and helps ease headaches.

Here is a great site I found about the benefit of Epsom salt baths. It explains things so well I feel no need to go into more detail. http://www.care2.com/greenliving/health-benefits-of-epsom-salt-baths.html?page=1

Sea Salt is different from the over processed, de-mineralized, iodized “Morton” salt you get at the grocery store. It is naturally occurring salt with the trace minerals still intact having many health benefits, which the over-processed iodized salt does not provide. If you do not know about the difference please do your research! You will be glad you did.

Sea salt is effective at stabilizing irregular heart beat and regulating blood pressure, helps extract extra acidity from your blood cells (a leading cause of inflammation), balances blood sugar levels, is vital to nervous system function, the function of blood cells, the absorption of nutrients, the clearance of lung mucous, anti histamine, anti inflammatory, prevents and eases muscle cramps, along with being an over all good provider of micro nutrients. It also is known to soften the skin. You can use extra salt as a body scrub while you are in the bath to remove excess dead skin cells. It is very relaxing, especially if you combine the salt scrub with some oil.

I have also found the natural sea salt crystals help set the “resonance” of the bath. I prefer Celtic sea salt because I feel like it grounds me better. Yes hippie dippy as my father would say but it does make a difference for me!

Baking soda helps detoxify the body, neutralizes extra acidity in the body and softens the skin. It is a huge detoxifier, and because of this I only use a 1/2 cup per bath. I have read about using a pound a bath but I don’t want that much of a detox while pregnant or breast-feeding.

The chamomile olive oil infusion is for relaxation, anti inflammatory, and calming properties. It helps reduce anxiety and insomnia, it is anti spasmodic and works to calm and relax the nerves and muscles. The oil diffuses nicely in the bath and absorbs well into the skin. I find I rarely have to use oil after the bath for extra moisturization like I do after a shower.

Lavender essential oil helps circulation, eases aches and pains, reduces cellulite,  heart palpitations, high blood pressure, reduces pain and swelling, relaxes muscles, and reduces joint pain. It is calming, uplifting, and balances emotion. It also helps with depression, insomnia, nervous tension, panic and stress. All things experienced at one time or another during pregnancy, at least from my experience.

What do you do to relax and take the pain away while pregnant?

Crazy Pregnant Lady Tea

So I guess pregnancy makes me crazy. I noticed feeling depressed this pregnancy around 12 weeks. I was just down and completely useless as a mother and a wife. I mentioned to my loving husband that I felt down and he said he thought I was depressed during my last pregnancy. I must not have noticed it over all the puking, gall stones, high blood pressure, pain and over all grossness.

Anyway I talked to my midwife about my options. We discussed antidepressants, because I have been on them before for situational depression and postpartum depression. We discussed the merits of massage, acupuncture, chiropractic and therapy as well. She wrote me a prescription for antidepressants but I decided to do some research before filling it and taking the drugs. After careful consideration I did not think the benefits of the drugs did not outweigh the risks, namely the baby dealing with detoxification effects after birth, increased chance of colic, and increased chance of behavioral/neurological problems. Considering I was not suicidal or homicidal, I decided to try natural solutions first.

I decided to take better quality health supplements that I was taking before I got pregnant and stopped taking because they cost more. I highly recommend finding a good whole food supplement. I was taking Standard Process, which I really like, but have gluten in them (I very recently got diagnosed with gluten intolerance) so I had to switch to a different supplement which is working well for me. I got my vitamin D levels tested and am taking liquid vitamin D drops.

I get massage at least once a week, and am going to start going to acupuncture again (insurance ran out last year, but now it is covered again so I am going again).

I have increased my fat and protein ingestion with healthy animal fats, coconut oil, and omega-3 supplements in the form of cod liver oil. There is some great information out there about how these fats are beneficial to your nervous system and health. See http://www.westonaprice.org/basics/principles-of-healthy-diets .

On top of all this I did a lot of research on herbs that can help balance my nervous system and the rest of the body. I am very careful with herbs while pregnant because they are not tested for safety during pregnancy. You need to depend on years and years of gathered data from herbalists, doctors, midwives, and other professionals who deal with herbs on a daily basis. A good rule of thumb I have found is if it is food it is usually safe. There are some notable exceptions though so do your home work!  There are some great books out there about herb safety during pregnancy, nursing and for use with children. I went to my herbalist to discuss options for tea, and between the research I had done with my books and the interwebs, the herbalists vast knowledge, and the assistance of my midwife checking for safety we came up with my crazy pregnant lady tea. This tea is also safe for breast-feeding, we checked as I am still breast-feeding. I actually see an increase in my milk supply when I drink it, I am guessing because of the nutrient boost.

Not only is the tea great for depression/anxiety/neurological issues, but it is also extremely nourishing, especially for woman. All woman can benefit from this tea but it is extremely nourishing and tonifying to benefit pregnant woman.

Here is what we came up with:

All ingredients are equal parts except for the St. Johns Wart which is 1/2 part to the rest.

Red Raspberry Leaf
Nettle leaf
Oat straw
Chamomile
Lemon Balm
St. Johns Wart
Lavender (optional)

This is why we decided on these herbs:

Red Raspberry Leaf:  Is the “best known, most widely used, and safest of all uterine/pregnancy tonic herbs.” -Weed p.18 It is nutrient dense with high levels of vitamin c, vitamin E, easily assimilated calcium and iron, vitamins A and B complex, and many minerals including phosphorous and potassium. It is known to increase fertility, prevent miscarriage and hemorrhage, ease morning sickness, reduce pain during labor and after birth, and assists in the production of breast milk. If you do nothing else at least have a cup or two of this great tea every day. And it tastes good too! – Wise Woman Herbal for the Child Bearing Year by Susan Weed

Nettle Leaf: Nettle One of the finest nourishing tonics known. Contains vitamins A, C, D, and K, Calcium, potassium, phosphorus, iron and sulfur. It aids in kidney health and function, increases fertility, nourishes the mother, fetus and placenta, eases cramps and muscle spasm, reduces pain, prevents hemorrhage after birth and increases the richness and amount of breast milk. – Wise Woman Herbal for the Child Bearing Year by Susan Weed

Oat Straw:  This was an addition mentioned by my herbalist as a highly beneficial ingredient to the nervous system AND breast-feeding. It is also highly nutrient dense with high levels of Calcium, Magnesium, Vitamins B (complex), A, C. The oat straw I get from the herbalist is not processed in a plant with wheat or other gluten containing grains and is gluten-free. If that is a concern from you be sure to ask this to your herbal provider.  “Oat straw is a nervine, which means it provides nutrients to reinforce nerves, particularly when an individual is suffering from stress. It is high in vitamin B and can help people maintain restful and regulated sleep patterns and other nerve-related problems associated with sleep and stress, including insomnia, anxiety, memory less, depression and restless legs”

Read more: http://www.livestrong.com/article/105497-benefits-oat-straw/#ixzz1kX3xrKuS

Chamomile:  Chamomile is probably one of the most widely used relaxing nerve tonics. It is used to relieve mental stress and tension. It is calming, anti-inflammatory, pain relieving, anti-spasmodic for easing muscle cramps, nervine (helps soothe, calm and strengthen the nervous system). -The Herbal Medicine Makers Handbook by James Green

Lemon Balm:  *fresh lemon balm is listed in the Wise Woman Herbal as an emenogogue (helps bring on periods). I use dried lemon balm and have had no issues but if mis-carriage is a concern you may want to exclude this from your tea. This was one recommended by my herbalist to add to the tea and was checked for safety by my midwife with no concerns. Lemon balm is considered specific for helping one cope with life situations that are difficult to accept. It is an old favorite for depression, melancholy, and hysteria. – Wise Woman Herbal for the Child Bearing Year by Susan Weed

St. Johns Wort:  Is nervine (helps soothe, calm and strengthen the nervous system). It has a sedative and pain relieving effect appropriate for treating neuralgia, anxiety and tension, and any irritable and anxious effects of menopausal changes. As an anti-depressant, it is highly recommended for treatment of melancholia or “the blues”. -The Herbal Medicine Makers Handbook by James Green.  There is a lot of misleading information on the internet about St. Johns Wort. It has never been proven  to cause miscarriage, birth defects, or to decrease milk supply. It has at best been anecdotally linked. My herbalist consulted three different books, (two written by medical doctors) about the risk to pregnancy and did not find anything concerning. It in fact is known as a moistening herb and can slightly increase your milk supply. If you are concerned please consult your health care professional and find information for your self!

Lavender: I listed this herb as optional because it is not synergistic to me. It does not calm me, but makes my nervous system twitchy, which is not a normal reaction. For this reason I do not include it in my tea but the herbalist suggested it might be beneficial. It is well-known to ease stress, tension and headaches. -Natural Health by Nerys Purchon

I hope this helps explain the tea and the great things it does. As always this is not intended for medical advice and you should speak to your health care provider before starting any herbal routine. As I said I worked on this with my herbalist and midwife to come up with the best solution for me. I hope this helps anyone who is suffering and can serve as a great guideline!

What do you do to help combat anxiety/depression?

Shared on Real Food Forager’s Fat Tuesday.

MIA-What we have been doing.

Hello there. It has been a while. I guess you could call me a slacker as I have not been keeping up with my posts, and I guess you would be correct.

A quick update on life. I got pregnant, had a bunch of visitors for Ellie’s birthday, got crazy depressed from the pregnancy and had to climb my way out of that sink hole before it swallowed me whole. Thanks to my mom, supplements and herbs I am back on track and actually feel functional.

Ellie is no longer sleeping in our bed, she is instead sleeping through the night, in her own crib, in her own room! I can not tell you how wonderful this is. I very much cherish the time we had co-sleeping with our little sweety. It made breast feeding SO MUCH easier and more convenient, and I really thing it helped us connect as a family. We decided to switch because Ellie was not sleeping as well, every time I moved she needed to nurse back to sleep, which made me not sleep well. If you have ever been pregnant with a toddler you know how important sleep is. So for all of our sanity we made the switch. It really was the right time to do it.

We got the book “The No Cry Sleep Solution” and read it and followed the books advice. I really liked the book because you could modify it to your families needs. It even allows for co-sleeping families, which I still completely support. With the plan she was upset and did cry for about 40 minutes with us in the room with her but fell asleep. She woke up 3 times the first night but went back down without too much of a fuss. Night two she cried for about 15 min. Since then she cried on and off sometimes for 1-5 min here or there until last week. Now she gets put in her crib and goes to sleep! Sometimes she will babble to her self for a while but no crying! It is amazing and I am SO glad to have such a WONDERFUL husband who got up with Ellie that first week. My biggest concern was that she would want to nurse back to sleep so Mike got up with her at night instead of me. It worked wonders.

As I said the preggo hormones made me crazy. I will make this a separate post but right now I will quickly mention I decided not to take drugs because of the side effects to the fetus. Instead I am working very closely with a natural nutritionist, certified herbalist/apothecary, and my midwife to help me balance my bodies needs and my own. I have a supplemental regime personalized for me by my nutritionist with whole food supplements that help my body get the nutrition it needs. The supplements are expensive but the work wonders. I am also drinking an herbal tea daily designed with the help of my apothecary which gives my mind and body a nice boost. I am drinking some now in fact. I went from completely dysfunctional (my mom came and lived with us for almost a month because I was completely useless) to being a competent, functional human being again! I love it.

That is the last four months in a nut shell. Now that Ellie is going to bed at 7:30 every night I should be more consistent in blogging until the little one arrives.

What do you do to get out of a bad place? What resources do you use to re-center and focus your life?