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For women planning a home birth since early in their pregnancy, or through a desire late in pregnancy to be in the comfort of their own home, planning for a home birth can seem exciting.  However, for families that might need to make a quick change of plans due to fear of their desired birth location, changing your birth team and environment might feel overwhelming.  Here are some tips to guide you through preparing for a home birth no matter which path led you here.

GET HEALTHY TO PREPARE FOR HOME BIRTH

Being healthy for home birth is quite ideal.  Birth at home is safe when the woman birthing at home is healthy.  There is no technique, skill, knowledge, or care provider that can make birth safer than the woman herself.  Home birth is statistically so safe because the women birthing at home have been, by default, some of the healthiest women in the population as someone unhealthy to birth at home is risked out if their lifestyle cannot change to improve their overall wellness.  Even the medications used to treat complications only buy time for the body to do what it was designed to do, and the nutrients and environment provided throughout and after the birth are at the base of healing.  This is up to women to eat well balanced, eliminate non-nourishing foods and other chemicals, and to live a movement-based lifestyle with reduced fear.

  • Eat an ample portion of dark leafy greens at every meal
  • Eat a rainbow of vegetables and fruits throughout the day
  • Drink at least 2-3 quarts of water and/or herbal tea (such as red raspberry leaf, alfalfa, and nettles) daily along with hydrating foods
  • Take supplements where you’re lacking, and be sure they’re bioavailable to your body
  • Walk an average of 3-5 miles daily (throughout the day, even if this is through your daily chores)
  • Stretch throughout the day, change positions, and get bodywork (even if this is a basic massage by someone in your family)

KNOW HOW TO DO A BASIC PRENATAL ASSESSMENT

Knowing signs and symptoms to watch for through pregnancy and birth can help you know when it is truly necessary to seek additional care.  For a detailed explanation of how to perform these basic prenatal care assessments and normal ranges, read THIS POST.

  • Your blood pressure should be balanced. You will likely feel off if it is not.
  • Your pulse should be calm. Hydrate if it is not, seek additional support if this does not balance it.
  • Your temperature should be normal during pregnancy.
  • Your baby should grow about a centimeter each week. Sometimes, baby’s position changes this measurement, but the measurement should be within 2 weeks +/- of the week of pregnancy you are currently.
  • Your urine should be clear to pale yellow.
  • Your bowel movements should be easy and smooth and a minimum of once daily.
  • You should not have swelling that doesn’t subside with rest or a change of activity.
  • Your baby should be moving well after you’ve started feeling movements and reacting to you stimulating them if you palpate your belly.

REDUCE FEAR TO PREPARE FOR HOME BIRTH

Fear causes tension.  Tensions causes pain.  Pain causes fear.  Fear increases blood pressure and pulse.  Fear increases adrenaline and stresses mom and baby.  Explore your fears and find the information that helps to allay them.  If you are preparing for home birth that you are not fully desiring, this is especially important.  (This approach is the same for preparing for any birth anywhere, as fear is one of the biggest factors outside of wellness that contribute to complications in birth).

  • Practice relaxation techniques that help you to stabilize your breathing
  • Read positive birth stories and remind yourself that birth is normally safe (even when moms are not at their ideal health)
  • Most birth variations have multiple approaches that a few basic skills, or herbs, can remedy – learn them DOWNLOAD BIRTH COMPLICATION BASIC MANAGEMENT.
  • The less we rely on others to “take care of us” or have the answers, the more confident we become. Learn – no matter where you’re planning to birth – so your fear is a non-issue
  • Learn comfort techniques like walking, swaying, rhythmic movements, birth balls, hip squeezes, how to move baby’s position, and so much more. These can be learned through Birth Classes, or in-home prenatal care.  These options are available virtually, as well.
  • Take the Esali Birth Labor & Birth Overview course for a quick run-through of expectations of labor progression and tips for pregnancy and postpartum, or the complete Esali Birth Online Birth Class for more thorough information

 

GATHER SUPPLIES TO PREPARE FOR HOME BIRTH

Basic home birth supplies can help your home birth be more comfortable and provide you with tools in case labor doesn’t take a straight forward path.  Most of the supplies you’ll need are around the house, and a few a midwife can provide.  It is helpful to have all your supplies together in one location no later than 36 weeks.

  • Prenatal Records (lab results, prenatal care notes, vital sign baselines, list of allergies, back-up provider information, and any other details about your desires that would be beneficial to anyone supporting you – including a birth guide for your desires of how to be cared for)
  • Towels & Wash Cloths
  • Package of Underpads or absorbent material to place wherever you are during labor and birth
  • Sturdy Plastic Sheet to cover and protect your bed in case you birth there
  • Nettles & Red Raspberry Leaf tea (or chlorophyll), High-Quality Grape Juice, and anti-hemorrhage herbs if you can get them (though nipple stimulation and your placenta/cord/membranes can be used in lieu of these herbs)
  • A long clean string, clean crocheted cord tie, or sterile cord clamp. DON’T cut the cord routinely after birth.  Wait until the cord is white and the placenta has been birthed!  This is only for if the cord snaps or in a rare case the cord has to be cut early.
  • Nourishing, easily-digested, foods. Fruits, soups, dark leafy greens, protein, broths.  For you and anyone that might be supporting you.

For a full list of supplies for optimal comfort, DOWNLOAD HOME BIRTH SUPPLY LIST

KNOW YOUR BIRTH SUPPORTERS FOR HOME BIRTH

There are so many people throughout our communities with wide ranges of knowledge about natural childbirth.  Many mothers that have planned home births in the past.  Doulas that have supported home birth (which is a bit different than supporting birth in the hospital).  Midwives and their assistants that have cared for women from pregnancy, birth, and postpartum – as well as provided routine checks on baby.  Have a list of people you can call for phone or video support if you plan (or need) to be alone.  Find a provider – the sooner the better.  If you wait too long in your pregnancy, a provider may not be available.  Likewise, a large part of the support a provider gives during labor is from learning about you and your baby during pregnancy.  The more time they have to do this, the more care they can provide.  If you’re considering home birth because of world changes like COVID19, waiting until the last days of your pregnancy to make a decision might decrease the safety of preparing to birth at home.  You can start receiving in-home prenatal care, learn techniques for self-prenatal care in case the home birth caseload for providers significantly increases, and learn techniques for birthing unassisted should the worst-case scenario occur.

SMILE, LOVE, & LIVE LIFE

While planning for a less-than-ideal birth might increase panic, once you become comfortable with your knowledge, these fears will subside.  Make the majority of your day focused on positivity, centering yourself, prayer, meditation, a walk in the woods, spending time with family, and going about your daily routine.  Women have birthed babies in far worse circumstances with joy and love and health over many centuries.  The health and happiness of birth is on your side.  Use the last weeks of your pregnancy to be amazed by your incredible body and how wonderfully it has been created.

 

If you would like more guidance on home birth, self-prenatal care, birth classes, education on birthing unassisted, reach out!  My virtual office is open to those outside my radius and support for my local community is available.

COVID-19 in Pregnancy

The COVID, or coronavirus, pandemic is a hot-top no matter where you look.  While toilet paper might be a big concern for many families, and at-risk populations may fear the severity of the disease, let’s talk about some practical things you can do to when pregnant to prevent COVID from stressing your pregnancy and birth.

NOURISH YOUR BODY TO PREVENT COVID IN PREGNANCY

As with all things, your healthy balanced food is what
provides your body with the necessary nutrients for full body function (and
nourishing your baby), and prevent illness.

Stock your kitchen with nutrient-rich, immune-boosting foods
like:

  • Organic Orange & Yellow Fruits &
    Vegetables: Lemons, Oranges, Squash, Cantaloupe, Grapefruit, Peppers, Starfruit,
    Papaya, Sweet Potatoes, Pumpkin and similar

These foods are rich in Vitamins A and C, the natural kind
which means they aren’t taxing to the liver and are more bioavailable.  Organic fruits help you avoid toxic
pesticides that make your immune system work harder.  These foods also help strengthen your amniotic
sac to help prevent early rupture of the membranes, and prevent bacterial growth. 

A reminder about sweet fruits and vegetables… as long as
they’re balanced with plenty of healthy fat and protein, you can eat until your
hearts content. 

  • Nettles & Dark Leafy Greens

Nettles are a powerful wild food rich with vitamins and
minerals which not only help to eliminate toxins and build a healthy blood
supply, but also helps your liver to process toxins more easily.  Other dark leafy greens have similar effects,
though not as rich in nutrients as nettles. 
Nettles also has a decent amount of plant-based protein when added to
soups or omelets in whole-food form.

  • Garlic & Onion

Garlic and onion are super tasty, and also help to balance bacteria in the body and rid the body of toxins to build an overall balanced immune system.  Cook with them, cook just them, or pickle them and change up the flavor a bit.  I love sautéed onions, and the field garlic and wild onions are becoming abundant right now.  So tasty with a little bit of day lily greens or chickweed pesto.

KNOW HERBS TO REMEDY SIGNS OF ILLNESS FROM COVID IN PREGNANCY

First, I want to say in this section that what I'm listing here are only commonly questioned herbs, ones that are easily accessible, and some that are sometimes over-used. I'm listing these just as a simple informational sharing opportunity, but working with an herbalist will provide you with many more medicinal plant options that can soothe symptoms and relieve time length of illness.

  • Violets

Viola odorata, the purple violet you see in spring, is starting to pop up in most places. This plant is a wonderful healing remedy for flu, fever, and cold. It is high in Vitamin C. The flower has a sweet and spicy flavor that makes a beautiful spring salad or quiet flavor in a smoothie. The leaves can be used to make a healing tea wonderful for all ages. If you have access to any grassy space, you might be able to easily pick your own violets, just be sure you're picking in a pesticide/unwanted chemical and animal feces-free space.

  • Elderberry

Elderberry is a well-known flu-remedy. It is known to reduce symptoms and overall length of the flu. It is a waste to take this as a preventative, really. It's expensive, somewhat hard to get a hold of at this time, and better utilized once you start feeling signs of the flu. Some are concerned about its possible effects on stimulating the immune system so much it creates a cytocine storm; however, elderberry is actually an immunomodulator that balances the immune system and very nutritive to boost the body's nutritional stores. I would recommend staying away from highly-sweetened elderberry products, however, because sweeteners are inflammatory and you lose a lot of benefits by overloading with added sugar at a time of illness. This time of year, if you have an elderberry plant of your own, the flowers can be used to support the system in respiratory illness and flu, and to stimulate sweating to release toxins. Don't use the stems or bark of this plant, of course, and as always, be wise about the amount of medicinal herbs you consume.

  • Echinacea

Echinacea is another well-known immune-boosting remedy. However, I want to point out that studies show it is really only valuable at the first signs of illness such as fatigue and sniffling. As soon as it progresses beyond this, switch to something else. Likewise, it is wasteful to use this over-used plant as a preventative. Native plots are practically non-existent due to its overuse, and cultivated plants aren't as highly medicinal as wild ones. It is also important to AVOID echinacea when it is blended with goldenseal. Goldenseal is a very strong antibacterial. It has many wonderful uses, but it is very hard on the bacterial balance in the body and is not practical for viruses. This is also an at-risk plant that should be used wisely only as needed.

PRACTICE COMMON SENSE HYGIENE TO PREVENT COVID IN PREGNANCY

  • Don’t touch your face
  • Wash your hands often.  Even if it’s just water because the act of rubbing does so much more than any antibacterial soap.
  • Use barriers to open doors, like a hand towel
  • Wear a cute (or simple) face mask to help reduce the chance of breathing in particles that may linger on for hours

GO DIGITAL TO PREVENT COVID IN PREGNANCY

  • Avoid crowded places
  • Reduce the events you’re attending in-person and opt-in for web-based interaction when needed for things like Online Birth Classes, Breastfeeding Support, or even church, friend socializing, or family get-togethers
  • Shop online for groceries.  Utilize “ugly-produce” markets, online pantries, and your local grocery pick-up or delivery options.

CONSIDER A HOME BIRTH TO PREVENT COVID IN PREGNANCY

A hospital is a place filled with germs, even without a pandemic.  Driving to and from appointments, sitting in waiting rooms, and getting out of the house with more siblings at home can be taxing on the system. Many home birth midwives will provide in-home prenatal care, and some will even offer web-based visits while educating you on how to provide your own self-prenatal care.

Many hospitals are restricting their maternity units to online one support person at a time, making mothers choose between their significant other, and their doula, or opting out of their desired birth team in some way.  At home, you get to choose who enters your space.

Not sure if home birth is right for you?  The Why Not Home? documentary is a conservative look at the safety of home birth and why many medical providers are choosing to birth at home for the health and happiness of their family.

Be prepared for birth when it doesn’t go as planned, which includes birthing unassisted at home.  Even if this isn’t a choice you would make, having this knowledge helps to dispel a tremendous amount of fear which improves the health of your birth no matter where that happens.

RELEASE STRESS TO PREVENT COVID IN PREGNANCY

Stress makes pregnancy hormones bounce all over the place. Stress makes it more difficult for your body to release toxins and fight off viruses and bacteria. Be sure you're receiving plenty of rest, as-needed, throughout the day as well as opportunities for self-care. A walk in the woods is an excellent option to be in the fresh air, sunshine, and away from the crowds.

Take a deep breath.

Remind yourself that your body is made to be protective and to heal.

Smile at the sunshine and wrap love around your womb.

Blessings on a beautiful birth, and reach out if you'd like to chat about more options for a happy healthy birth.

Spinning Babies is quickly becoming a household name when it comes to birth support.  While many of the techniques aren't new, Spinning Babies Training helps to blend ancient wisdom with modern childbirth knowledge to create a paradigm of maternity care that decreases prenatal discomfort, improves baby's position, and increases natural progression of labor which ultimately assists in avoiding unnecessary interventions due to physical complications of birth.

Spinning Babies Trainer, Lorenza Holt, will be leading a two-day Spinning Babies workshop in Parkersburg,WV

  • December 14th and 15th 2019
  • 9:00 am to 5:00 pm each day
  • Judge Black Annex - Ft. Boreman Meeting Room
  • Continental Breakfast + Healthy Lunch included daily

This two-day Spinning Babies training is for professionals who work with birthing families in both the prenatal and intrapartum periods. Specialties include: doulas, midwives, nurses, nurse practitioners, obstetricians, family medicine doctors, childbirth educators, prenatal yoga instructors, chiropractors, acupuncturists, massage therapists, myo-fascia release practitioners, perinatal case managers, and community health workers.

One full scholarship will be provided to an expecting mother that will be at least 24 weeks during the workshop that is interested in having techniques demonstrated on and participants working with this mother.  Two more partial scholarships are being offered by the trainer to people of color who will provide labor support services where health inequities are most prevalent. Cost to these participants will be $125 for the two day training. Applications will be considered and approved on a first come-first served basis.  Please contact Danielle at mdbergum@esalibirth.com to apply.

Lorenza Holt has a masters in public health with a concentration in maternal and child health. She is a Spinning Babies® Approved Trainer and an approved birth doula trainer with DONA International. Lorenza comes to this workshop with more than 20 years of experience as a hospital-based doula program director, childbirth educator, birth doula, and trainer in a variety of women’s health topics.

Spinning Babies will teach you about:

  • The anatomy and physiology of the pregnant uterus and the soft tissues that support the pelvic structures
  • The Three Sisters of Balance
  • What parents can do in pregnancy to have less discomfort and greater suppleness in their bodies
  • For labor, you will explore the effects of an occiput posterior labor, assess what a stalled labor pattern is telling us, what techniques we can apply to ease labor progress through the three levels of the pelvis
  • For doulas, we will discuss how within a doula’s scope of practice, you can use the Spinning Babies approach.

CEU's PROVIDED

  • 13 CEUs for ACNM (DONA Accepted)
  • WV RN CEU's *may* be available - please contact Danielle at mdbergum@esalibirth.com for this request

For any questions about this event, scholarships, or providing Massage Tables & Yoga Mats, please contact the host, Danielle Bergum, at mdbergum@esalibirth.com.

Hydration during labor is very important.  Hydration in labor feels good.  Hydration in labor keeps us safe.  Hydration in labor nourishes baby.  Hydration in labor prevents complications.  Hydration in the form of commercial sports drinks...  meh, not so good.

So, what's the alternative?  Fortunately, there are a lot of natural commercial drinks available, but they can be pricey.  Furthermore, the key is to go into labor already well hydrated, with a little bit of puffiness that you've been building up for the last weeks.  No, of course we don't want excessive swelling, but our ability to retain water at the end of pregnancy is a very good thing.  We basically build up our own IV fluids so we don't have to have actual IV fluids during labor.

Getting moms to actually be as hydrated as they should be is a different story.  Nevermind the scorching hot environments many women experience where no matter how much fluids we built up during pregnancy, we're going to need to replenish them a whole lot more and may add a little extra elecrolyte balance in with nutrients and added natural salts.  An herbal laboraide drink is super inexpensive to make, fun, and if you get some really cute silicon molds, you can make absolutely gorgeous ice cubes that you simply want to use just because they make you happy. Score for #TheOxytocinMethod.

I love this drink so much my kids and I make it as a summer picnic tea.  It is gentle like that.  This labor herbal electrolyte tea packs a powerful nutritive punch full of natural Vitamin C, but gentle enough to soothe cramps and calm a laboring mother.

HIBISCUS

Hibiscus is the beauty in this blend.  This is what gives the breathtaking wine color that few herbal plants can create, which also has a lovely tang when unsweetened.  It can also resemble a nice herbal fruity drink with a smidge of whole leaf stevia or honey added.  Oh my YUM.

Nutritionally, hibiscus is an excellent source of Vitamin C and antioxidants including anthocyanins (the flavonoid that gives blueberries their brain-boosting benefits).   Evidence also suggests it is beneficial at lowering blood pressure, making it a wonderful drink for the immune system and perinatal health.

RED RASPBERRY LEAF

We all know Red Raspberry Leaf.  It has been used for centuries during the childbearing years.  Red Raspberry Leaf has a mild herbal flavor and provides many nutrients required for muscle function including iron, magnesium, Vitamin C, and other minerals that make uterine contractions efficient (as do all nutritive foods).

STRAWBERRY LEAF

Strawberry leaf, like Red Raspberry Leaf and all the other plants in the rose family, is high in fragarine.  This is the chemical thought to provide Red Raspberry Leaf with its labor-supportive abilities.  As herbalists, we know it is so much more than one constituent.  Strawberry leaf is high in Vitamin C, iron, magnesium, and other minerals and flavonoids.

NETTLES

Nettles, like all dark leafy greens, packs a powerful nutritive punch.  While nettles is normally my go-to, because of its strong herbal flavor, we can use a little less of it in this blend and let the other herbs shine through.  A little goes a long way with nettles and it is wonderful for supporting anemic mothers, and is high in Vitamin K, so a wonderful herb to have on hand in case of hemorrhage.

LEMON BALM

Lemon balm is very gently calming.  It is a common child's-herb, and as such, works beautifully for a laboring mom to calm the muscles without slowing anything down unnecessarily.  We know a tight cramped muscles doesn't contract well, even though it is in a somewhat constant state of flexion.  A muscle needs to be smooth and flexible to remain strong, and lemon balm gives us just that.  It can help to balance the emotions of a laboring mom and has a very slight lemon flavor that blends well with these other laboring herbs.

 

These herbs are blended up along with either whole leaf stevia (yes, the whole leaf, not the extracted white stuff or drops) or good raw honey.  The sweetness makes this really enjoyable to sip on without being distracting.  The whole blend is light, just a touch of flavor is all we need.  Alternatively, honey makes a great energy boost when mom just needs to keep on going but its not really a great time to nap.  A pinch of Pink Himalayan sea salt helps with hydration as a well rounded electrolyte drink.

 

Transformaide Herbal Electrolyte Drink

2 Parts Hibiscus Flower

1 Part Red Raspberry Leaf

1 Part Strawberry Leaf

1 Part Nettle Leaf

1 Part Lemon Balm

Whole Leaf Stevia or Honey to taste (optional)

Pinch of Pink Himalaya Sea Salt per cup of water

Blend all the dried herbs together.  Use 1 tablespoon per cup of water, or 1/4 cup of the herb per quart of water.  Pour just-simmering water over the herbs, cover, and let steep at least 10 minutes.  I recommend making this in a 1 quart jar with a drinking lid screwed on top.  Once this is steeped it can be drank as is, or poured into silicon ice cube trays and frozen.  They can be eaten as ice cubes, or ice pops, or popped into a glass of water for a light flavor.

The ice cubes make a great addition to your labor bag no matter where you're birthing.  You can freeze them days (weeks) in advance and seal them up in a really good insulated carrier and just pop them in your labor bag when you're off to the hospital (or for doulas, when you go to meet a client).

So, grab a cup... or a quart jar... and let's have a drink!

Motivational Tea Scrolls can be printed free, clipped, and added to each cup of herbal tea (or your favorite relaxing drink) for daily inspiration.  Various formats from quotes, tip, scripture...etc., plus new additions regularly, will keep your daily cuppa inspirational for pregnancy, motherhood, and beyond.

Add motivational tea scrolls to gifted tea blends for blessingways, baby showers, and postpartum gift boxes.  Print these out for your loved one (scrolls for mom and dad) to give them a surprise moment with every glass.

 

Rights in Birth

What are your rights in birth?  What choices can you make in any birth setting to support the birth you want?  This podcast discusses human rights in childbirth and many questions you may be asking yourself during pregnancy, such as:

  • Do I have to be in the wheelchair, or can I walk?
  • Am I allowed to eat in labor?
  • Am I allowed to drink during labor?
  • Am I allowed to wear my own clothes?
  • Am I allowed to leave the hospital after I am admitted?
  • Am I allowed to go to the hospital if I'm planning a home birth?
  • Do I have to be induced?
  • Do I have to have IV fluids?
  • Do I have to be augmented?
  • Can I birth on hands and knees, squatting, or in the water?
  • They're telling me I'm going to kill my baby; is this allowed?
  • They're making me feel like I'm a bad mother; is that OK?
  • Do I have to give my baby supplements?
  • Do I have to be induced to have a VBAC?
  • Am I allowed to VBAC?
  • Am I allowed to have a vaginal breech birth?
  • Am I allowed to have a vaginal twin birth?
  • Can I VBAC at home?
  • What if my hospital has a VBAC ban?
  • What if a provider tells me their policy doesn't allow eating or drinking during labor?

This rights in birth podcast explores the concepts behind being healthy during pregnancy and birth to increase your birth choices, choosing a birth location and care provider that supports your desires for birth and right to respectful maternity care, as well as the rights you have to accept or refuse recommendations and routines.

Join the FREE Esali Birth community to access the the Esali Birth Rights in Birth audio and learn how asking permission might not be the best approach to enjoying your labor, and tips on setting yourself up, and using your birth rights, for a Happy Healthy Birth.


newman breastfeeding centre Esali Birth

Breastfeeding struggles are the same across the modern world.

Last week, I visited the Dr. Jack Newman International Breastfeeding Centre in Toronto, Canada.  Making beds up in the clinic rooms, talking to moms about their struggles (even the ones who had absolutely no clue just how famous this tiny little clinic was), holding flashlights for multiple tongue tie releases, and chatting with IBCLC's while experiencing a similar culture surrounding breastfeeding.  Not on the other side of the world, but out of the Mid-Ohio Valley in an area otherwise known to be quite progressive.

Progressive in some areas of the culture, though, doesn't always mean much for breastfeeding support. Sometimes, in fact, it can mean quite the opposite. Furthermore, with breastfeeding, progressiveness isn't quite the perspective we need. We need a back-to-basics approach.

The International Breastfeeding Centre sees the same struggles from births, providers, and other lactation consultants as we do here in the MOV, and with Dr. Jack Newman's speaking schedule - this experience is similar world-wide.

Surprisingly, the Dr. Jack Newman International Breastfeeding Centre is a small clinic in Toronto that sees most of the "I've exhausted all other resources and now I'm coming to you" clients. This is quite similar to many of the clients I see in the Mid-Ohio Valley. Being outside of the medical system and utilizing a more holistic and back to basics approach, means Esali Birth Breastfeeding Support & the MOV Breastfeeding Clinic isn't the first place mothers receive care. Unfortunately, this also means many moms are given poor, albeit well-meaning, advice from hospital staff, friends, family, mom groups, and even some of the certified lactation specialists throughout the region.

Like the International Breastfeeding Centre, I see many families that could have easily prevented many breastfeeding struggles with about 15 minutes from quality guidance right after the birth. While my doula clients have few struggles with breastfeeding, aside from physiological influences from pregnancy and genetics that osteopathic or tie revision can support, the clients I see for breastfeeding support only are a different story.

It is very common for mothers to come to me after a pediatrician or hospital stay that resulted in weight checks encouraging supplementation, when an experienced breastfeeding counselor could have provided much better insight into the breastfeeding dynamic. I see many families that have little to no milk supply due to nipple shields being handed out like candy for every latch problem as well as scheduled feeds and pacifier use.  Why are these providers that are well aware of lactation aids and supplemental nursing systems not using this approach?   All of the babies I see could use osteopathic and other bodywork, and most of them have some degree of tongue and lip tightness (is this from folic acid supplementation... I don't know). I see many mothers on the verge of quitting, who are already supplementing, or have already decided to use formula because of poor advice from multiple levels in the community.

I see many mothers with their second, third, fourth babies that have received perinatal mentoring, doula care, or attended the monthly Breastfeeding Clinic now experience joyful breastfeeding relationships, or simply knowing there is someone available to provide them with holistic support through the entire breastfeeding relationship, pregnancy through weaning (and tandem nursing).

newman breastfeeding centre family Esali Birth
Mom, the system is failing you.

YOU are not supposed to know everything about breastfeeding.
YOU are not supposed to stress about what kind of knowledge you're receiving.
YOU are not supposed to know that nipple shields cause more damage, don't support proper musculofascial development, and reduce your milk supply.
YOU are not supposed to have to "get used to" breastfeeding discomfort.

You do not fail at breastfeeding when the system is not setup to see you succeed, and the people that work within the system have poor training, refuse to change the way they advise people, or aren't even sharing the resources they know to be available because of greed and competitive perspectives.

You should be GUIDED on exactly what to look for to know baby IS getting milk.
You should be GUIDED to all the local resources you have available to you.
You should be GUIDED to understand that pregnancy, birth, postpartum, tongue ties & routines and procedures do affect breastfeeding.
You should be GUIDED holistically through your pregnancy, birth, and breastfeeding experience.

newman breastfeeding centre breastfeed Esali Birth
What can I do to receive the best Breastfeeding Support?

Every journey is different.  We can't guarantee there won't be struggles, different breastfeeding journeys, or life situations that reduce some of the choices you may be comfortable with making.

The key is asking for help from quality well-known resources until you receive helpful information, and can make the choice, that makes breastfeeding comfortable and enjoyable for you.  Find multiple providers available in your area, be sure your birth team knows their contact information, and use them.

  • Schedule Mentoring with #MOVdoula during pregnancy so you can learn the basics of breastfeeding, learn how choices for birth influence breastfeeding, and prevent many complications before they happen
  • Attend the monthly Breastfeeding Clinic, Birth & Parenting Social in the Mid-Ohio Valley
  • Message Esali Birth on Facebook to see if an in-person session is right for you
  • Schedule a Virtual Breastfeeding Support Session via the web, no matter where you live
  • Schedule a Home Breastfeeding Support Visit around the Mid-Ohio Valley
  • Use internet resources that are known for their quality such as KellyMom.com, BestForBabes.org, and La Leche League
  • Remember that many insurance plans cover breastfeeding counseling (prior to and after birth), including some Medicaid plans.  You can also use FSA & HSA accounts to cover breastfeeding-related and doula-care costs.  Likewise, the monthly Breastfeeding Clinic is free and a lot of support can occur through free messaging chats.  When you weigh possible costs of a few breastfeeding sessions against the alternatives to a long exclusively breastfeeding relationship, they are quite minimal, so get in touch!

Pregnancy safe herbs are easy to find.  If you're pregnant, this may be the first time you've tasted the herbal waters as you look for ways to improve your nourishment or find a warm alternative to your morning cuppa.  Learning more about how to safely select and use herbs in pregnancy and throughout the childbearing and parenting years was a strong drive for me completing The Science & Art of Herbalism course through Sage Mountain.

Are Herbs Safe for Pregnancy?

That's a general question for such a broad range of herbal choices.  So, the general answer is, yes, most herbs are safe for pregnancy.  Herbs are food - they're not pharmaceuticals.  That is, they are a whole plant - and we're not talking about essential oils, here.  We're not talking about extracted constituents from an otherwise safe herb for pregnancy.  We are talking about the whole herb, and like food, whole herbs are designed to provide the body with nourishment so the body can work optimally.  The more you move away from whole herbs, the more you have to think about in terms of type, dosage, and quantity.

What are Herbs Safe for Pregnancy?

Generally, you're looking for tonic herbs, as in toning to the body.  This doesn't mean toning like muscle-contracting, it means toning as in providing the body with optimal nutrients.  In addition to toning, using herbs that have a long history of herbal use will be a great place to start.  These tonic herbs are typically drank as a tea or infusion steeped for at least 5 minutes, and up to overnight, drank 1-3 times a day.

Tonic herbs that are considered generally safe for pregnancy include:

  • Red Raspberry Leaf (Rubus idaeus)
  • Strawberry Leaf (Fragaria vesca)
  • Nettles (Urtica dioca)
  • Oat Straw (Avena sativa)
  • Hawthorn Leaf & Berries (Crataegus spp.)

What are Herbs Safe for Pregnancy Specific Conditions?

While tonic herbs are herbs that can be used generally through all trimesters to nourish the body, there are some pregnancy-specific conditions that herbs can be used to treat, and these are intended to be used topically or as a tea drank 1-3 times daily  as needed.

Morning Sickness

  • Peppermint Leaf (Mentha piperita)
  • Ginger Root (Zingiber officinale)

Anxiety & Sleep

  • Oat Straw Tincture in Milky Stage (Avena sativa semen)
  • Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)
  • Chamomile (Matricaria recutita)
  • Skullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora)

Stretch Marks & Topical Skin Health

  • Calendula (Calendula officinalis)
  • St. John's Wort (Hypericum perforatum)
  • Comfrey (topical only) (Symphytum officinale)

When are Herbs Safe to Use During Pregnancy?

When to use herbs during pregnancy is really dependent upon your personal health.  Most herbs have far less side effects than commonly prescribed pharmaceuticals; however, we can still choose what we put in and on our body with knowledge and a few things to keep in mind.

  • Tonic herbs are generally safe during all trimesters
  • The second trimester is typically the safest for using stronger herbs as there is an increase of risk of miscarriage in the first trimester and an increase of preterm labor in the third trimester
  • Avoid oxytocic and anthelmintic herbs unless under the direction of your care provider
  • Be cautious of most emmenagogue herbs, especially during the first and last trimester
  • Be cautious of introducing new herbs if you have a history of miscarriage
  • Be cautious of strong laxative herbs (yes, this includes castor oil)
  • Be cautious of herbs with high volatile oils (i.e. essential oils), particularly avoid internal use of essential oils.  In moderation, these herbs in whole form are generally considered safe during pregnancy when they do not fall under other caution categories
  • Be cautious of bitters and avoid strong bitters
  • Be cautious of your personal allergies to plants
  • Use 3 quality sources for reference (not google and not "this is good for this" lists and not random people in mom groups) and make an educated decision based on your current situation

Let thy Food be thy Medicine

There are so many herbs safe for pregnancy.  This list is just the tip of the teapot when it comes to all the herbs you have for nourishment, calming, and pregnancy-specific conditions.  The bottom line is, start learning and finding your quality resources and choose foods, and herbs, that are generally nourishing throughout the day so that you are being provided with optimal nutrients more than just a few cups at a time.  If you are looking for personal guidance choosing herbs during the childbearing years, get in touch.

Other Resources for Herbs Safe for Pregnancy:

  • Herbs for the Childbearing Year - Susun Weed
  • Herbal Healing for Women - Rosemary Gladstar
  • AvivaRomm.com
  • Medical Herbalism: The Science and Practice of Herbal Medicine - David Hoffmann, FNIMH, AHG

Mushroom Coffee?  Herbal Coffee?  Mushroom Hot Chocolate?  No way, you say?

Coffee.  Caffeine.  Morning Cuppa.  Chai.  [Black] Tea.  What is it about those deep dark flavorful aromas that we love to fill our sit down and sip time?  Why is it that with all the energy-boosting methods out there, we turn to caffeine the most?  With the push of a button, that's all we need now for our favorite flavor.  Around every corner you see another coffee shop popping up to fill this addiction.

Kicking the coffee habit during pregnancy or breastfeeding is a great idea...  putting that idea into a practice can be another story, though.  I'm a sucker for the smell of coffee... the flavor... the depth.  I could just sit in a coffee shop just for the smell.  My favorite ice cream blend is chocolate & brownies with a scoop of coffee ice cream.  It is simply intoxicating.  Nevertheless, I cannot drink it regularly.  I will use it after a long birth, or a stressful night.  I'll use it when it gets super cold and there's snow all around and I just want that experience standing on my porch in the crisp morning.  Autumn is a weakness for me, for sure.  And that's why I have this Mushroom Herbal Coffee blend.  I can get my fix, and feel nourished while doing it.

While the consensus is one cup of coffee per day during pregnancy or breastfeeding may be OK... it is not the ideal.  Caffeine, and acidic foods, in any addictive manner can be detrimental to adequate hormonal balance and overall health.  It causes a draining affect on the body and creates a dependency for circulation and tension-relief.  Coffee and black tea can deplete the body of nutrients through their diuretic affect, even when they're decaffeinated.  Coffee and black tea can make it harder to stay hydrated, which effects multiple health aspects, and can effect your milk supply.  Starting out the parenting journey with overall healthy sleep and nutritional habits will be crucial to your future health.  Want to sleep when the baby sleeps?  Need to mellow out your moods?  Try this delicious mushroom herbal coffee alternative to help you break the caffeine, and preservative habit.

This is not just another herbal coffee blend.  This mushroom coffee mix is naturally decaffeinated and nourishing on multiple levels, wonderful for all ages, and can spice up any cool night around the fire.  That being said, as with all herbs that stimulate the digestive and diuretic nature of the blood - they can be overdone.  You can use these blended with coffee to slowly work your way to reducing the caffeine in your daily routine.  Then you can reduce the amount you're relying on these types of drinks altogether where they eventually turn into a treat now and then.  Anything that makes you feel as if you need it to function, be motivated, or relax daily is detrimental to your overall health.  Use sunshine, movement, sleep, and social connection along with a well-balanced habit of whole foods whenever possible to nourish your mind and body, and these treats for now and then or special occasions.

Mushroom Herbal Coffee Key Ingredients

Roasted Dandelion Root - Mushroom Herbal Coffee

Dandelion is well known as a liver-supporting herb able to help the body detox while not depleting the body of potassium like many diuretics.  While non-roasted dandelion is the best medicinal form, using a roasted dandelion (even 1/2 roasted and 1/2 not) is a key ingredient in this mushroom herbal coffee blend for a bitter rich flavor.

Roasted Chicory Root - Mushroom Herbal Coffee

Chicory root has long been used as an herbal coffee replacement and additive.  You'll see this soft blue colored flower blanket the roadsides through the summer as with most liver-supporting herbs, it grows well in poor soil working to improve the soil conditions for future plants, just as it can improve the conditions of the body for future health.

Roasted Chicory Root gives this blend a dark rich color and the bitterness you know well from your favorite cup of ahh.

Roasted Carob - Mushroom Herbal Coffee

While there are many coffee alternatives, unfortunately, some do lack the rich flavor that we know so well in coffee.  Roasted carob helps to bring back that richness in this mushroom herbal coffee blend.

Carob is often used as cocoa replacement.  You can get it in powder or chopped form, and even sweetened carob chips for cookies.  We're using the chopped form here for flavor and boldness.  It isn't quite as rich as cocoa, but brings a depth to this blend with many nutrients included such as magnesium and calcium.

Burdock Root - Mushroom Herbal Coffee

Burdock root, like dandelion root, is wonderful for the liver and detoxification system.  If you're experiencing skin-eruptions and other skin-conditions in pregnancy, burdock is a great support to the liver so it can do its job of removing toxins.  It also has a nice bitter flavor, building up that coffee replacement profile.

Ground Milk Thistle Seed - Mushroom Herbal Coffee

Milk Thistle Seed doesn't give this blend much flavor at all; maybe a little nuttiness if anything.  This addition is almost purely for the work it does on the liver.  While most of the other herbs in this blend support the liver through their diuretic and elimination nature, milk thistle has the added benefit of actually improving the liver's ability to regenerate so it functions better overall.  The beauty of the liver is that it has the ability to improve its function and even reverse diseases that are often thought of as incurable.  Because so many in our world aren't nourishing themselves by not only reducing meats, repetitive foods (mono-diets), and reduced processed foods alongside adding healthy doses of greens and a variety of whole vegetables and fruits, they become more and more reliant upon supplementation, medication, and intervention.  Our body only functions if we nourish it well and regularly.  Balanced nourishment (through food, movement, sleep, spiritual and social connection) are the foundation to full-body function.  With that foundation, milk thistle can improve the time the liver regenerates and may also support the body's ability to prevent pregnancy complications like acne, mood imbalances, PUPPS, cholestasis, HELLP and pre-eclampsia.

Reishi Mushroom - Mushroom Herbal Coffee

It is a common belief that a pregnant woman has a decreased immune system.  What if, they were simply not nourishing their body and due to the extra energy to gestate a baby, they became more susceptible to illness?  Reishi is very nourishing to the entire immune system helping you to avoid and fight off viral infections and other disease.  Reishi, like many mushrooms, has a mild flavor and gives this blend more depth.

Cordyceps Mushroom - Mushroom Herbal Coffee

Cordyceps are packed with antioxidants and are also thought to improve muscle efficiency in the body, including the circulation system.  They can also help to balance blood sugar levels, something many women are concerned for during pregnancy.  Cordyceps, in powder form, build texture in this blend with more flavorful depth.

Maca Powder - Mushroom Herbal Coffee

Maca is known for improving the health of the blood.  It is high in potassium, b-vitamins, vitamin c, manganese, and iron (even protein).  Maca can also help to balance moods.  The Maca Powder in this herbal coffee blend has a sweet buttery flavor to the mix.

Raw Cacao - Mushroom Herbal Coffee

While not a part of the basic blend, adding raw cacao gives this a mocha or hot chocolate option for kids and adults alike.  There is conflicting information as to if cacao actually contains caffeine or if it only contains a substance that stimulates similarly to caffeine.  Regardless, it adds a bit of an energy boost and depth of flavor.  Why raw cacao?  Because it has more nutrients.  There really isn't a big different in the roasted form many are familiar with (cocoa), but we keep it raw for the deeper flavor.  In fact, a lot of the this vs. that are looking at the differences in chocolate vs. cacao - two completely different products.  That's like comparing eggs vs. cake.   It does depend on where you get your cacao or cocoa from, but we prefer to stick with raw cacao for this blend when we can.  Cacao is high in magnesium and antioxidants, improving the nutrient profile of this mushroom herbal coffee blend.

I hope you enjoy this easy peasy mushroom herbal coffee mix and share your favorite way to enjoy with me on social media!

Mushroom Herbal Coffee & Hot Chocolate

To see this recipe, you must be a member of the FREE Esali Birth Community.  JOIN Esali Birth.

Esali Birth, a holistic perinatal education and doula support organization, will be using funds raised from the 2018 Esali Mother’s Day 5k to provide families of the Mid-Ohio Valley with free postpartum doula care. This continuation of postpartum care for a new mother allows her body time to heal helping to prevent postpartum mood disorders in mothers and fathers as well as time to reflect on the birth experience and move forward into early parenting with confidence. Families can apply for postpartum doula care by registering at http://www.esalibirth.com/postpartum-care-mov-program/ where arrangements can then be scheduled.

“The six weeks after birth are a critical time period for mom’s ability to establish breastfeeding, heal emotionally and physically from their birth experience, and transition into a new phase of motherhood. Most parents are not only left 24-48 hours after their birth to begin this new life transition on their own, but mothers are also routinely not being checked again by their provider until 6 weeks after the birth. Our culture often expects a family to quickly be back on their feet with house work and even out of the home jobs within weeks of birth,” says Danielle Bergum, Doula and Perinatal Mentor with Esali Birth.

Approximately 50 hours of postpartum doula care are available on a first-come first-service basis through Esali Birth for mothers in their three-month postpartum time period. Postpartum doula care can range from light house work and meal prep to breastfeeding support, babywearing guidance, and entertaining siblings while mom, and dad, rests and rejuvenates. Postpartum doula care is beneficial for women that have experienced both a normal vaginal birth as well as cesarean and pre-term birth or perinatal loss. At this time, postpartum doula care through this program is limited per family; however, families can schedule addition postpartum care through standard doula services as desired.

Esali Birth provides education, doula support, and full mentoring to families in the Mid-Ohio Valley and online. Esali Birth seeks to enhance the knowledge of options available to childbearing families as well as the human rights individuals have during birth and beyond. Empowering parents to make informed decisions about their health and well-being is our focus through confidence-building education, awareness and support.

# # #

If you would like more information about the Esali Birth Postpartum Doula Care Program, please contact Danielle Bergum at 304-482-4729 or email at mdbergum@esalibirth.com.

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