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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.

 

The Esali Birth Perinatal Pocket Guide is member's only resource; a pocket doula guide for pregnancy, birth, and the first weeks postpartum.  This easy to navigate pregnancy guide can be easily viewed on your phone or printed on index cards.  The labor guide is a great labor bag reference for dads, birth partners, and doulas.

Perinatal Pocket Guide Includes:

  • Prenatal Wellness Tips
  • Baby Alignment Tips
  • Pregnancy Discomfort Remedies
  • Pregnancy Belly Mapping Tips
  • Early Labor Tips
  • Early Labor Progression Tips
  • Active Labor Tips
  • Active Labor Progression Tips
  • Birthing (Pushing) Tips
  • Birthing (Pushing) Progression Tips
  • Placenta Uses
  • Unassisted Emergency Birth Tips
  • Breastfeeding Latch Tips

 Join the Free Birth Community!

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.

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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.

A doula perinatal mentor is like your best friend.  Remember that love you had growing up with a friend that would listen to all your stories, ideas, and imaginary worlds you snail-mailed to each other?  Remember when you were sad, and she gave you a hug?  Remember when you had a question, and she'd help you find the answer?  A doula is your best friend through the childbearing years with an inside scoop about the modern birth industry and your amazing body.  Not every doula practices the same way, but an Esali Birth Perinatal Mentor strives to encompass all of the needs of the childbearing years through knowledge, skill, and networking.

What does a doula do?  What DOESN'T a doula do?

What a Doula Does

  1. Tells you her personal abilities to support YOU through whatever stage of birth you're experiencing
  2. Doesn't pretend to be superwoman, but offers you love and guidance through your personal birth experience
  3. Massages your feet, hands, face, and whatever will make you feel better
  4. Walks with you prenatally providing informational and emotional guidance
  5. Provides education and support that encourages you to make informed decisions
  6. Seeks to build your confidence so you can become aware of your personal power, knowledge of yourself, and capabilities as a mother or father
  7. Understands the birth industry and hurdles you may have to cross, and helps you navigate these paths
  8. Offers physical guidance to improve your overall health for a happy healthy birth
  9. Offers nutritional guidance to improve your overall health for a happy healthy birth
  10. Helps you find area professionals that can support you through happy healthy birth
  11. Helps you find area professionals that can support you through postpartum and parenting
  12. On call 24/7 (not just after 37 weeks and not just for active labor)
  13. Helps you find answers to questions and may perform many hours of research for clients
  14. Looks over your food journal to help see where you could improve from timing of eating to what you're ingesting
  15. Finds time for you and your family's needs
  16. Goes with you to the grocery store to help select healthy balanced food items
  17. Help you prep for postpartum by blending herbal baths, stocking your pantry, and packing your labor bag
  18. Reviews your birth guide (birth plan) for language, efficiency, and necessities to help you communicate with your birth team
  19. Networks with area professionals to help maintain a positive image in the community that will reflect on your birth experience
  20. Leads birth comprehensive birth classes that help you become aware of ALL your options for ALL births
  21. Leads perinatal comprehensive classes that help you become aware of ALL your options from pre-conception through postpartum and early parenting
  22. Can drive with you to long distance prenatal appointments to chat about what you want to talk about, and help you reflect on your prenatal appointment after it has occurred
  23. Provides consistent support prenatally, even when you are choosing to birth without a doula or with another doula
  24. Provides consistent support prenatally for mothers includes those experiencing PTSD from Previous Sexual Trauma while working with your therapist to ensure you have the best support team available no matter when you have your baby
  25. Supports #ALLthebirths because a doula is supporting YOU
  26. Supports the birth team's interaction with the laboring mother to improve her experience and memory of the birth
  27. Guides you and your birth partner on positive communication skills to improve your labor experience
  28. Provides physical support during labor for comfort
  29. Provides physical guidance during labor to help a baby move into a more comfortable position
  30. Provides emotional support during labor for comfort and birth progression
  31. Communicates with the staff about your needs for quiet and privacy during labor
  32. Doesn't flinch when your water breaks all over their shoes and the doula is in the middle of counter pressure for your comfort
  33. Helps you roll from side to side during a medicated birth and you have little feeling from an epidural
  34. Holds your baby on your breast during the first hours after a cesarean when you're a little in and out from the medication
  35. Cares for older siblings whether at a home birth, during the hospital, or when you need childcare during a scheduled cesarean
  36. Meets you at your home, in the woods for a walk, and at your labor facility to support you whenever you need support
  37. Watch your labor signs to help provide information that helps you decide when to transfer to your birth facility
  38. Encourages you to listen to your amazing body and all the signals it is providing you to move, breathe, and dance with your baby
  39. Helps comfort you through transferring to a birth facility
  40. Can drive you to your birth facility while your birth partner supports you during transfer to a birth facility
  41. Help setup a birthing tub for hydrotherapy
  42. Help tear down and cleanup a birthing tub after a water birth
  43. Get in the birthing tub with you to provide back pressure and position support
  44. Is comfortable with birth fluids near and on them
  45. Helps you find the labor noises that opens your cervix and brings baby down
  46. Reassures your birth partner that all these noises are expected and opening the cervix, bringing the baby down
  47. Help cleanup the house after a home birth
  48. Rotates and wiggles your hips to help baby move through the pelvis
  49. Dances with you during birth for emotional and physical support
  50. Offers birth ball use guidance
  51. Offers peanut ball use guidance
  52. Tells you how amazing you are to build your confidence, and oxytocin, in pregnancy and birth
  53. Tells your birth partner how amazing they are to build their confidence, and oxytocin, in supporting you through birth
  54. Takes the lead on supporting you as you desire
  55. Guides the direction of your birth partner so they can support you in a leading role
  56. Works alongside your birth partner
  57. Holds your hair back and a bag for vomit
  58. Provides support even when there are shift changes at your birth facility
  59. Turns down the lights to help oxytocin build to its fullest potential
  60. Encourages privacy to build oxytocin for labor progression and an enjoyable birth
  61. Encourages intimacy to build oxytocin for labor progression and an enjoyable birth
  62. Reminds you to listen to your body for positions and movement
  63. Reminds you to listen to your body for needs of rest and relaxation
  64. Reminds you to listen to your body for pushing birthing
  65. Reminds the facility of your birth guide
  66. Reminds you to speak up for your desires
  67. Reminds you of your human rights during labor and birth
  68. Reminds you that you CAN birth vaginally when others are telling you that you don't have a choice
  69. Reminds you that you CAN choose a cesarean when others are telling you that you don't have a choice
  70. Fills up your water bottle, adds a little cucumber and fruit for electrolyte balance
  71. Reminds you to take sips of water for hydration
  72. Reminds you to eat light balanced foods, broths, and fruit as desired during labor
  73. Reminds you to communicate with your provider and staff for your wishes
  74. Reminds you that, "No Thank You" and "Not Right Now" are powerful words in the labor space
  75. Gets cooling wash cloths for your face and neck
  76. Gets warm towels for perineal support
  77. Provide hip squeezes to allow comfort and room for the baby
  78. Uses a rebozo for comfort and encouraging baby to rotate through the pelvis
  79. Works with the rest of the birth team and the staff to ensure you have all the perspectives when needed
  80. Answers the phone at 3 am to help you find calm in the early hours of labor, and breastfeeding
  81. Shares area contacts for perinatal services such as breastfeeding or osteopathic therapy
  82. Makes you a cup of tea and a sandwich while you're nursing your baby
  83. Brings your family dinner so you all can rest during postpartum
  84. Listens to your birth story and encourages you to feel all the feels
  85. Helps you wrap your baby for a more hands-free and connected postpartum
  86. Guides you on breastfeeding latch and positions for more comfort
  87. Guides you on when to seek more support for any issues that may arise during postpartum or parenting
  88. Go-to for perinatal-related information and support
  89. Connects the dots between birth choices and birth experience to help you process and understand your birth experience
  90. Checks in on you in the days after birth to ensure you are holistically supported
  91. Offers LOVE - hugs, tears, laughter and love

I can't say that a doula is right for everyone.  I can say that when you have a relationship built with your doula, the ability for better support during labor grows.  A doula is that best friend willing to be by your side through every experience, day or night, weekday or weekend, holidays and spur of the moment.  If you're looking for labor options, a doula perinatal mentor can be a beacon of light through the childbearing years.

Let's chat about how you can be supported through pregnancy, labor, and postpartum.

postpartum anxiety Esali Birth

Postpartum anxiety is an ever growing illness, particularly in western cultures and stemming from western lifestyles that create adrenal fatigue, exhaustion, overload and shutdown.  Due to the nature of our culture, more women experience postpartum anxiety than men, but this is certainly an illness that can be seen in dads and other supportive persons of a new baby, depending on the circumstances.

Most women are seeing western medical providers throughout their pregnancy and postpartum so treatment of postpartum anxiety and depression typically takes a western approach with prescriptions like Zoloft and other anti-depression medications.  For many women, they don't want to take this route (especially as the first approach) and are seeking natural and herbal treatment for postpartum anxiety but may not know who to turn to or have been told this isn't the best approach.

I believe you, Mom, and you, Dad, are intelligent human beings that can make informed decisions.  If you're reading this, you're seeking treatment or being active in seeking help for your condition.  Not all families are lucky enough to know that what they're experiencing as postpartum anxiety and depression is anything other than expected and normal.  We've made western mothers and parents believe they should be able to handle life with a baby, that it is supposed to be exhausting, and that baby blues are expected.  I'm calling B.S.

Baby blues are sometimes the first sign that something is wrong.  A mother and father should be nothing other than happy and fairly rested after they have the baby.  If they're not, and this doesn't quickly change, postpartum anxiety and depression are the next step.  We don't wait until the last straw.  We take a holistic preventative approach and then treat with the first signs of any issue.  The fact that western medicine is typically the treatment, however, makes it all that more difficult to accept help since the prescriptions come with side effects like severe depression and suicidal thoughts, nausea, headache, constipation, insomnia, seizure, hallucinations...  Not really the type of first treatment anyone expects.  So while these medications may have their place and time, there are a world of options moms have for natural treatments with postpartum anxiety and depression as well as baby blues and prevention.

General Prevention & Natural Treatment of Postpartum Anxiety and Depression

General wellness is imperative for all prevention and healing of all dis-ease.  You will see these same things repeated over and over and over again throughout Esali Birth.  With these general lifestyle choices, that is often all you need.  "Let thy food be thy medicine" as Hippocrates said - not as a form of treatment, but as a form of prevention.  Your daily (especially long-term) choices allow your body to work well or not.  I know it may not be that easy - but these choices will go along with every single treatment program.  These, of course are pregnancy and breastfeeding compatible.

  • Plan for Support - Prior to birth, plan to have someone, or multiple people, help you so that you (and Dad) can rest for at least 3 weeks.  You will have a wound the size of a small dinner plate that needs to heal after birth where the placenta has detached.  Whether this is someone living in with you or multiple people bringing you meals and planning for cleaning for you, the support and rest will help you heal faster and everyone the ability to sleep more, even if that means multiple naps during the day.
  • Get help with Breastfeeding - If breastfeeding is not easy, it is easy for this to influence happiness, sleep, and postpartum healing.  Breastfeeding should not hurt.  Engorgement is not normal (common, not normal).  Nipple shields are a clear sign something is wrong with the latch.  Tethered Oral Tissues are real (and bodywork and/or tie revisions can help tremendously).  Many medical providers, even with a "lactation consultant" title or training, do not have adequate experience or skill to support long term breastfeeding.  Get help.  If the tips don't start improving things in 24 hours, seek additional help.
  • Tell Your Birth Story - Share your thoughts and feelings and series of events of your labor and birth with someone who will HEAR you, and someone that doesn't try to convince you that "all that matters is a healthy baby."  YOU matter, too.  Your happiness IS your health.  Women desire to share their birth story and being told to supress thoughts (positive or negative) about this life-changing event can lead to significant trauma later in life, confidence, and overall depressive natures.
  • Eat Well - Eat adequate greens in all forms multiple times a day.  Eat a rainbow of colors of vegetables and fruits; steam them for maximum nutrient bioavailability.  Eat sprouted legumes, seeds, grains.  Eat minimally processed foods.  Balance your meals with adequate healthy fats, proteins, and carbs.
  • Move Well - Strive for walking a minimum of 1 mile a day and make a goal of an average of 3-10 miles a day prior to birth, and after you've healed postpartum.  This doesn't have to be done all at once and remember it is an overall average.  Take a day of rest, take a day for extra activity, sprinkle in movement and walking here and there.  Add in some calf stretches, bellydancing, hiking, squatting, climbing, hanging, lifting and whatever feels good to get your whole body moving more.  It is the movement throughout the day that allows nutrients to be taken to where it needs to go and hormones to flow well through your body.  Lack of movement means poor sleep as well and that causes more adrenal exhaustion and anxiety.
  • Hydrate Well - Hydration is more than drink more water.  You can drink plenty of water, but without proper nutrients and movement you won't retain the hydration.  Be sure you're getting all your necessary vitaminerals through balanced eating.  Cucumbers added to your water make great electrolyte balance and hydration balance.  Coconut water is another option.  Lemon water (with the organic peel) improves the detoxification system and reduces toxin overload that often contributes to mood disorders
  • Get Sunshine - A minimum of two hours of natural sunshine daily will be more than enough to allow your body to create Vitamin D (for immune support and hormonal balance).  Prison inmates are blessed with two hours of outdoor time daily... I think you can make the choice to achieve that as well and get used to a variety of different weather conditions.  Sure, take it easy sometime - but you'll feel better the more you get outside.
  • Rest - You must get adequate sleep and down time.  Sometimes the postpartum period won't allow full rest (particularly without a lot of real support), so lay down and take it easy for a good 4-6 weeks.  Depression symptoms peak around 4 weeks postpartum (also common after a great birth where mom is so energized she doesn't rest or get support).  Nurse the baby, eat, pee, clean yourself up and don't do anything else.  Seriously.  This time period is when a new mom (and dad, ideally) should be pampered.  We were NOT made to do this alone.  We were NOT made to go back to work at 3 weeks or 6 weeks or 12 weeks after having a baby!!!  I know your circumstances may not support the ideal, so do what you can and get support for the most minimal tasks until you feel rested - as long as it takes.
  • Self Care - You need time for yourself.  As mothers, our postpartum anxiety might begin with believing we are the only one that can care for our baby, particularly if we're breastfeeding.  You need time away from baby, and your significant other, and other kids, and you need time to be with your own thoughts - especially if dealing with postpartum anxiety.  30 minutes a day minimum by yourself to take a bath, write in your journal, interpret your dreams, go for a walk, do a craft, read.  1 hour minimum weekly with other adults that you enjoy being around (strive for this daily).  1 hour minimum weekly with your significant other while no one else is around (strive for this daily).  Your baby will be OK.  Your baby can be brought to you at any time baby needs you - and be sure whomever is caring for your baby at this time understands the importance of that.  The older your baby gets, the easier it will become for others to find soothing methods that will allow you to have your full 30 minutes and more.  Just can't bring yourself to get away?  Then hang out with a group of people with your baby that will also help you care for your baby.  Learn to babywear (and nurse using a carrier) or a stroller.  A big part of this step is doing something for YOU.  Paint, sing, dance, read, take a bath, go shopping, hang out with friends, hike, boat, ski.  Do something YOU love JUST for you - even if it is little bits at a time.  We'll talk more about this throughout this post.
  • Eliminate (or significantly reduce) caffeine, acidic foods, and sugary foods.  All these wreak havoc on the blood glucose, hormonal balance, and hydration levels in the body.  1 cup of coffee or tea may be "fine" daily in western terms, but we're looking at these issues from a more body-supportive approach.  If you're relying on these things to function daily, there are underlying problems.  Some of which are caused by the tannic and acidic nature of the diuretic constituents, fluctuations of blood sugar levels, and suppression of natural energy promoters in the body.  Coffee and black tea (even when decaf and especially when sweeteners and sugars like creamer, sugar, honey, agave, maple syrup...etc. are used) cause significant drops in energy and fatigue for 1-3 days following consumption.  Reduce and then eliminate the consumption of these until they become an occasional treat.  Don't be at their mercy.

For more guidance on general wellness, join the free Esali Birth Prep course valuable for all stages of the childbearing years for happier healthier living.

Chores & Habits for Prevention and Treatment of Postpartum Anxiety and Depression

We were not meant to do life alone.  We are social creatures.  Our civilized culture has made us live apart from people and particularly in America we suffer from independence-syndrome where we're so stuck on being independent we lose connection and help.  You can't really have it all, and it's showing strongly in mothers suffering from postpartum anxiety and depression.  Create a true village for yourself as much as possible.  If that village is just your immediate family, you may find herbal support more necessary.  You may find other treatments more necessary.  Unfortunately, that's the downfall of teaching our children to do things on their own as soon as possible... self-soothe, eating solids, sleeping in their own bed (or crib from birth), off to school, off to college, get your own place to live, live isolated/meet brand new people (often move away)... have a baby and other than "letting the doctor take care of you" you're meant to do life without much help.  Sometimes help from people in our culture is more difficult than not getting help, I know that, so use these tips.

  • Hire a Postpartum Doula - Someone that gets life with a new baby, doesn't want to just snuggle the baby (though will if that's what you need), and provides unbiased love and support and house cleaning and errand running and food prep, and pampering and hugs and will leave or come when you need them.  This used to be mom, sister, friend, and mother-in-law - but with our independent nature and strong separation from biological birth and living, we often have to hire these people in our culture.
  • Schedule - Keep a calendar with auto-reminders so you don't have to think so much.  Make habits of putting tasks and calendars on a device you use, be it a journal, your tablet, or your phone.  Connect it with the rest of the family as needed.
  • Be sure your schedule isn't jam packed.  You may know that you don't want to go to the annual Christmas party this year, but you don't have to go to the family dinner or to church or to all these traditions that are taking your energy.  Heal, rest, do what makes sense for you and your family.  Everyone else will get over it.  Even if "they did this when they had a new baby" - a history of doing too much is a precursor to postpartum anxiety and depression in you and your children.
  • Reduce the Laundry - If you work, especially, reduce your clothing options to 2-3 tops, 2-3 complimentary shirts, 2-3 pants, 1-2 shoes plus a few accessories.  Choose all these items with similar colors and patterns to easily mix and match, your accessories can be your wow pieces.  This reduces how much you have to think and how much laundry you have to do.  Same with the rest of the family.  Cycle out your clothes for the season if it helps so you are less likely to have too many dirty clothes at once.  Rewear clothes that actually don't need cleaned.  When your kids can walk, they can help with laundry by at minimum picking up clothes and making sure they go in a basket - make it a game.  The older they get, the more they can do.  My kids (now 9 and 6) have been doing their own laundry for years.  My husband has always done his own laundry.  Yes, we help each other out, but cleaning how is not mom's job even if she's a full-time stay at home mom (particularly during the first 3-6 months and while breastfeeding).  Be realistic and help where it is needed.
  • 15 Minutes of Cleaning - Set a timer (or put on some music) once, twice is better, a day for 15 minutes.  We're looking for that 15 minute indication.  Do whatever you can do in the necessary parts of the house (kitchen, main living space, getting laundry started, bathroom, bedroom).  Pick-up, tidy-up, start a load of dishes, sweep the floor... whatever... for 15 minutes.  You might be amazed how much you can get done when you know you don't need to do it all.  You might be amazed how great your kitchen looks with all the stuff just organized.  These 15 minutes give you motivation to get something done and permission to stop when the timer ends.  If you can't schedule this at a specific time every day and you feel like the only time you have is when the baby is sleeping, do it as soon as the baby goes to sleep - but make a rule that as soon as these 15 minutes are up, you will lay down and rest and try to nap yourself.  You're not trying to host a dinner party, you're just looking for basic function with a space to move around in a little better - its all for sanity.
  • Clean the Kitchen - At minimum, keep your kitchen clean.  If nothing more than making sure you have a clean surface to prep on and clean dishes, make this a priority.  Kids are great at putting dishes away when they're little, scrubbing when they're older, and loading a dishwasher if it is available.  Sometimes, the dishes might not be totally clean, but they're away in the dishwasher and can be easily wiped off for use.  You're more likely to eat healthy when you have a place to prep.
  • Prep Your Meals - Prenatally, use a meal-planning calendar to prepare for your postpartum and stock your freezer with healthy meals that can be heated up when you don't have leftovers or someone bringing a meal.  Prep veggie trays, fruit bowls, healthy snacks, get a salad spinner, make soup and learn to love leftovers (even if they're remade).  Take one day when you have a lot of help, and do as much as you can to prep for the week (or the month).  If you can segment food and freeze it to throw in a pot or crockpot, go for it.  Write down your meal options on a calendar to help with grocery trips and cooking meals (great for dads).  Get your kids to help.  Kids LOVE mixing, chopping, stirring and getting things from the refrigerator and pantry.  My kids help me so much (particularly my youngest) that when I have to prepare a whole meal on my own I'm a little bit lost.  We started them with hook and loop wooden veggie and knife sets, then plastic knives for chopping salads, and watched them carefully with sharper knives at a young age.  Cooking is a life skill that will teach about health, numbers, patience, art, love and social connection.  You can't go wrong.  Have your kids plan the meal if they're old enough.  Even if it's PB&Banana with raw veggies or Spaghetti (with a salad).

Generally, solicit more help for prevention and treatment of postpartum anxiety and depression!  Make a plan to eat an extended family-meal 1-4 times a month. You bring the salad, because it's the easiest (and you know you'll have fresh greens that way) and enjoy someone else's cooking, plus the leftovers to bring home.

Herbal Supplements for Prevention and Natural Treatment of Postpartum Anxiety and Depression

A good whole foods and minimally processed supplement can help fill in the gaps.  Esali Herbal Powders, available in the Esali Shop, include the following herbs for daily use as a supplement.  While I am not recommending specific brands, Mega Foods supplements are whole-foods derived and have high quality business practices if you're looking for a more conventional option as well.  These herbs may be used as a supplement during pregnancy or breastfeeding with guidance from an herbal counselor.  Some women are not comfortable taking kelp during pregnancy because of kelp's high iodine levels, however, in the Esali Herbal Powders Thrive blend the overall amount is quite low.  Of course, you also need to be aware of your iodine intake (i.e. if you eat iodonie-fortified table salt then skip the kelp, or switch to a healthier salt source).

  • Nettles (excellent on their own as a tea and soup green as well if you do nothing else - Power Green for hormonal and organ balance, detoxification support, and vitaminerals)
  • Spirulina (Power Green for hormonal and organ balance, detoxification support, and vitaminerals)
  • Chlorella (Power Green for hormonal and organ balance, detoxification support, and vitaminerals)
  • Kelp
  • Shiitake Mushroom
  • Beet Root (Cardiovascular System Health)
  • Cranberry (Urinary & Immune Health)
  • Alfalfa
  • Wheat Grass
  • Barley Grass
  • Oat Straw

Adrenal Supportive Herbs for Postpartum Anxiety and Depression

Most cases of anxiety are related in some form to overstimulation for extended periods.  Sometimes the birth, breastfeeding or postpartum period can be the event that is just too much for a taxed body to handle (even if you had a great pregnancy).  Sometimes hormonal imbalances from various causes (unbalanced diet, processed foods, artificial foods, soda, lack of sleep...etc.) causes anxiety.  In either case, daily adrenal support (tea or tincture - whatever you're more likely to take) can help along with being intentional with your daily tasks.  Adaptogenic herbs, those that help the body to adapt to and rebalance during environmental stress through non-specific activity.  In other words, help your body to work more efficiently without targeting a specific organ.  Adaptogens normalize functions of the body (decrease/increase as needed) to help bring your body back to a state of homeostasis.  They mostly achieve this through improved digestion and detoxification by stimulating the liver's functions of converting glycogen to glucose and increasing blood glucose levels, enhancing the entry of glucose into cells, and improving the usage of glucose within those cells while also normalizing the response to stress by preventing exaggerated stress responses.  While some women are comfortable using adaptogens during pregnancy, it is not widely recommended.  These herbs are fine to use while breastfeeding.

  • Pare down the schedule.  Learn to say, "No" to others and sometimes to yourself.  Listen to your cycle seasons and support your system by scheduling tasks that fit with your hormonal needs.  During postpartum, this means to treat your season like you would during menses.  Relax.
  • If any of your anxiety, unhappiness, or stress is related to communication and parenting, seek alternative parenting methods - Aha Parenting is an excellent website for positive parenting approaches that can really shift the family dynamic and mood for all ages - www.ahaparenting.com
  • Adaptogenic herbs in tea or tincture form (1-3 tincture dropperfuls or cups of tea total per day - I like to start with 1 a day and go from there).  Herbs may include (on their own or as a blend): Ashwaghanda, Rhodiola, Holy Basil, Elethero, or Shatavari (this one particularly for women's hormonal balancing).  There are many adaptogenic herbs, these are some of the most common.

Nervine Supportive Herbs for Postpartum Anxiety and Depression

Nervines are herbs that have a direct action on the nervous system through toning and nutrition or easing tension and creating muscle relaxing effects.  In general, the nervous system always needs supported in any dis-ease, but especially through anxiety and depression illnesses.  Some nervines are better for chronic (daily and regular) use and others for acute (immediate short term use).  You will likely add nervines as a daily therapeutic and keep 1-2 options for those really tough as-needed moments.

Nervines for Daily Routine Use for Postpartum Anxiety and Depression

The following are fine to use during pregnancy (with the exception of Motherwort) and breastfeeding.  1-3 doses daily.

  • Oat Straw/Milky Oat Tops - This demulcent herb gently, but powerfully, nourishes the nervous system.  Excellent for morning or evening use.  Incredibly mild flavor (similar to oats themselves) able to be blended with just about everything.  If you're looking specifically for the calming aspect, you need milky oats - Avena sativa tinctured while in their milky oat stage.
  • Chamomile - Great for tension and stress, particularly when it affects the digestive system.  Great as a before-bed tea (note that steeping it over about 5 minutes will be strong, but it will have a stronger diuretic effect).  Great blended with other herbs.  Can also be infused into an oil for a relaxing muscle rub.
  • Catnip - Makes a great mild-tasting tea with a very gentle relaxing effect particularly for abdominal and digestive tension (very useful for kids).  Great blended with other herbs to enhance the relaxing effects.
  • Lavender - Either the whole herb or the essential oil.  As a daily routine, lavender in a warm bath (not the essential oil unless it is in a diffuser) or on a diffuser necklace, or sniffed directly out of the bottle or bag.  Great as a bedtime routine to support better sleep - particularly when sleep issues are caused from anxiety.
  • Frankincense - The essential oil, especially when used alongside lavender essential oil, can be a wonderful quick-fix for moments where you feel overwhelmed.  I love to just hold both bottles up to my nose and take 3 very long slow deep breaths.  It is effective, quick, and doesn't overuse my oils.  I can do this as often as I'd like to throughout the day, because sometimes it doesn't matter what you do - you have a bad night and need a little pick me up that is nourishing to your body.
  • Motherwort - NOT FOR USE IN PREGNANCY - The mother herb and wonderful for mother-related anxiety and hormonal balancing, for PMS symptoms and other hormonal and mood fluctuations are present and particularly when the heart is concerned or where palpitations are anxiety-related.  This is one of the main ingredients in the Esali Birth Mother Me Tea blend available in the shop (with motivational scrolls for a little extra love and pick-me-up).  Heavy and long-term use may interfere with other cardiac treatments.  It is a mild menstrual-promoter and as such should not be used in pregnancy.  1-4 ml tincture of 1:5 solution in 40% alcohol up to 3x daily or 1-2 teaspoons in 1 cup boiling water steeped 10-15 minutes drank 1-3x daily (this one is bitter - be prepared).
  • Vitamin D3 - Cholecalciferol- OK, Not an herb or a nervine, but necessary if you're not getting enough sunshine.  You'll feel it in your nerves in terms of anxiety and likely cold, flu and other illnesses. (Fortified milk and juice won't cut it and isn't a part of a balanced diet).  Dr. Weil recommends 2,000 IU of Vitamin D3 daily and for a breastfeeding mom 6100 IU/day of Vitamin D3 is enough for mom and her baby.  There is teetering evidence on if any supplementation of Vitamin D works at all, but no matter what, take it with healthy fats because Vitamin D is fat soluable.  You need sunshine daily in all weather conditions (or extra amounts on days if you know you won't be out the next), but supplementation or full spectrum bulbs might be on your next purchase list.  If you're low in Vitamin D, you're likely low in magnesium as well.
  • Magnesium - Oral Chelated Magnesium Glycinate and Topical Magnesium Chloride combination.  This is not an herb or nervine, but likewise necessary for nerve health and if you're not eating a balanced diet (particularly high in wild-harvested green foods) you're likely lacking in this very necessary nutrient responsible for numerous whole body functions.  Magnesium is in many of the tonic and nervine herbs such as Nettles, as well.  For many, topical magnesium is the most readily absorbed.  Flakes in a bath or topical solutions.  If you're low in magnesium, you're likely low in Vitamin D as well.

Nervines for As-Needed Limited Use for Postpartum Anxiety and Depression

* ASTRISK NOTE:  Do not use the herbs noted with an '*' astrisk if you are taking a prescription depression or sedative medication unless under the direction of your care provider.  They can interact and enhance each other - not always the outcome you're seeking.  If pregnant, use these herbs with guidance from an experienced herbalist.

All of the herbs in this section are OK for use while breastfeeding.

  • Lavender - This is included in both sections as lavender can be used daily for general support, and the essential oil is great for in-the-moment anxiety relief by taking three very long deep breaths through your nose directly out of a bottle.
  • *Skullcap - Makes a great mild-tasting tea with a relaxing effect particularly for anxiety and anxiety-related tension.  Great blended with other herbs.
  • *St. John's Wort - Hypericum perforatum - Great for neuralgic pain and other inflammatory issues (often common with anxiety and depression).  Also useful for injuries to the spine, coccyx, and traumatic shock quite common after modern births, particularly in a hospital or birth center where women usually don't labor instinctively (choosing their own positions for labor and birth) or where birth has been induced or augmented.  A long history of perinatal use for anxiety and depression.  Note, reduction of oral contraception efficacy has been noted.  2-4 ml 3x daily of a 1:5 in 40% alcohol solution or 1-2 teaspoon of dried whole herb infused into 1 cup boiling water (pour over the herb) and steeped 10-15 minutes 1-3 times daily.
  • *Kava-Kava - Not for long term use.  Heavy long term use may cause skin irritation.  Heavy long term use may cause liver issues.  This is best used on a limited as-needed basis.  When you didn't get much sleep the night before.  When you're having a rough day (or week).  It can be used for mild insomnia and depression and in such cases can be used for a longer period.  This is a great tincture to keep on your person (particularly to alternate with Lavender or if lavender only makes you sleepy rather than anxiety reducing).  Kava can be great for hormonal-related anxiety and depression.  No more than 60-120 mg kavalactones 3x daily.  You know a strong tincture when it tastes nasty.
  • *Passion Flower - Passiflora is great as a soother and sedative (often used for insomnia).  Excellent for neurological-related conditions like seizures and Parkinson's disease and other anxiety conditions.  1-4 ml of a 1:5 solution in 40% alcohol about an hour before bed for support while sleeping or up to twice daily for anxiety-related concerns.  Or 1 teaspoon of dried herb infused in 1 cup boiling water (pour over the herb) and steeped for 15 minutes about an hour before bed or up to twice daily.
  • *If you're lacking quality sleep, especially if you think yourself awake, a blend of 2 parts California Poppy, 1 Part Valerian, and 1 Part Passion Flower tincture, 5 mL about 30-60 minutes before you want to go to sleep.  Chill for a while and you'll have a more restful sleep which can really change how you feel during the day.

Now, don't let anyone tell you there are no holistic or natural or herbal options when it comes to postpartum anxiety and depression.  Most of these are lifestyle changes.  Sometimes it can be support with other aspects like sleep support rather than specific herbs for anxiety and depression - it depends on root causes and lifestyle.  Sometimes, it is changing our own perspective and our eating/lifestyle choices that can be the hardest.  Once you do (and do it slowly as needed), you'll feel so much better.  I can't say life will ever be easy, but you'll figure out what works for you and everyone will be healthier for it.

If you're looking for support, get in touch!  I'd love to listen to your story and help you find a specific wellness plan that works for your personal constitution and situation.

Thrush Esali Birth

Thrush is an overgrowth of yeast in a baby's mouth which often transfers onto mom's nipples.  For a breastfeeding mother, this can mean a lot of discomfort and often an end to the breastfeeding relationship if it doesn't get diagnosed or remedied.  It is quite common for providers lacking breastfeeding skills to improperly diagnose thrush and many moms are told to not treat it or that the white in the baby's mouth is from milk.  This is unfortunate as many thrush treatments are available without any harmful side effects that can be utilized in a just-in-case fashion.

Symptoms of Thrush

Keep in mind that some thrush symptoms mimic symptoms of other circumstances like poor latch and tongue tie.  It is usually helpful to have multiple symptoms and sometimes why providers misdiagnose thrush.  If you're not quite sure and your case is mild, start with the mild treatments of thrush immediately to avoid worsening.

  • Nipple discomfort like a feeling of irritation, burning or sandpaper while nursing (especially after a period of no breastfeeding discomfort).  Nipples are often more pink or more red than their normal appearance
  • Burning and shooting pain within the breasts (ducts) during and between nursing sessions
  • Cracked or bleeding nipples (especially after a period of no breastfeeding discomfort)
  • White coating or spots inside baby's mouth (especially that don't come off when rubbing with your finger)
  • Diaper rash (especially one that is splotchy and very irritated)
  • Baby popping on and off the breast when coupled with other symptoms

Causes of Thrush

Thrush is caused when yeast overgrows in the baby's mouth and/or on mom's breast (often these are coinciding even when all symptoms are not present).  Yeast infections are not actually "infections" as yeast is present in all humans - so this "infection" is simply an overgrowth caused from imbalances.

  • Gut health and general imbalances of food intake (the real underlying cause of most yeast overgrowth) prenatally and postpartum
  • Medications in labor, especially antibiotics for Group B Strep causing yeast overgrowth in mom and baby
  • Vaginal yeast infection not treated in pregnancy (also a contributor of early rupture of the membranes)
  • Vaginal yeast infection not treated in early postpartum
  • Poor latch (position, depth, tongue or lip ties, pacifier or bottle use) causing nipple damage and/or plugged ducts
  • Overuse of lanolin or other moisture barrier nipple salve
  • Dairy or other food allergens

Treatment of Thrush

In much of western medicine, prescriptions like Nystatin and Diflucan are often used for thrush treatment, but without good or consistent results.  In any thrush or yeast treatment case, focus on gut health to ensure overall body balance is achieved or you're likely to have recurring thrush and yeast overgrowth (including diaper rashes and vaginal yeast infections).  The following treatments are listed with mild treatments at the top and stronger treatments at the bottom.  Most can be combined using multiple methods.

When treating for thrush, treat your nipples and baby's mouth at the same time.  Treat all pacifiers, bottles, and toys that are in baby's mouth at the same time as well by boiling/sterilizing between uses.

Balance Your Lifestyle

Bacterial overgrowth is often a direct result of other imbalances in your life.  No matter the treatment of thrush you select, this must be a part of your thrush protocol.

  • Eliminate processed sugar (reduce to the absolute minimum you can handle)
  • Eliminate excess of bread, dairy, pasta, crackers, pancakes, muffins, and any processed item similar to these
  • Eliminate allergen foods (often dairy, strawberries, citrus - especially undiluted juice)
  • Increase dark leafy greens
  • Increase all the colors of the rainbow in vegetable and fruit form
  • Balance meat and grain intake
  • Reduce stress (i.e. schedule overload, work load, family stress, lifestyle stress).  Stress wreaks havoc on bacterial balance due to hormonal and acidic changes within the body, immune system, and sometimes simply decreases your ability to choose healthy foods

Natural Thrush Treatment

  • Air & Sunshine - Oxygen and sunlight will kill bacteria.  Go braless to let your nipples breathe and avoid compressing your milk ducts too much which can cause plugged ducts and encourage not only yeast overgrowth, but mastitis as well.
  • Raw (or pickled) Garlic - Garlic has great bacterial balancing qualities excellent for any infection.  Cut up garlic cloves into pill-size pieces and swallow 3-10 cloves daily.  You can also just increase your intake of raw garlic in your foods like pesto or guacamole.  Garlic oil can be rubbed on the nipples and a diaper rash.  Some baby's may not like this treatment in their mouth, though some do like the taste of the breastmilk so still receiving the benefits.
  • Herbal Infused Oil or Herbal Wash with at least Calendula in the ingredients.  Other herbs beneficial with Calendula are Lavender and St. John's Wort.   This is *not* a pure or diluted essential oil.  While essential oils may be of benefit (like lavender or tea tree in some cases, but not internally for a baby especially), the essential oils of plants are the volatile oils which do not contain all the healing constituents as the whole plant and are not as safe to put in a baby's mouth.  Also, keep in mind, this is not a salve.  While salves can be healing - when it comes to thrush, items like beeswax and lanolin seal off the nipple from oxygen which is needed to kill bacteria and traps moisture which makes bacteria grow.  Salves can be helpful when bacteria overgrowth isn't a problem; however, here you're looking for herbs infused in quality olive oil or coconut oil or a wash made with herbal tinctures and diluted or infused in Apple Cider Vinegar (or other live culture vinegar).
  • Probiotic Paste - Probiotic powder mixed in olive or coconut oil to make a paste is great for nipples, diaper rash and eating.  Baby can suck off probiotic powder from your finger (no paste or yogurt needed).  Some moms prefer to use plain yogurt for the same reasons.  Plain is key here.  Keep in mind, though, dairy can contribute to yeast overgrowth - but sugar imbalances - especially processed sugar - is a food that yeast loves.  Plain yogurt can be soothing topically.
  • Apple Cider Vinegar - While it doesn't have to be ACV specifically, you want to avoid white or distilled vinegar.  You're looking for a live culture vinegar which has both probiotics and can be taken internally.  Vinegar is helpful for soaking into the skin for ease of application in the diaper region (dry bum usually equals a bum without rashes - no diaper creams needed so be sure to completely dry the entire diaper region and folds before putting on diapers if you're not using EC) or when clothing is a must, but be careful not to overdo it on the nipples.  Adding an herbal infused oil over the ACV gives you both properties without over-drying and cracking or creating a moisture barrier.
  • Oil of Oregano - This is the whole oregano herb infused into oil NOT the essential oil of oregano.  Big difference - be mindful.  This infused oil can help topically after a nursing session or on the diaper area, but I would advise against using this in baby's mouth as it is a hot oil that can be very irritating to mucous membranes (whole infused herb included but definitely a no on the essential oil for a baby).  Some moms rub this infused oil or diluted essential oil on the bottom of a baby's feet (and despite what oil professional you may know, this isn't actually the best place for oil application and absorption - but does help keep baby's hands away from it and then rubbing it in their eyes... ouch!).  Not a wide range of positive outcomes with this treatment, but I'm adding it here for information's sake.

Intensive Thrush Treatment

  • All Purpose Nipple Ointment (APNO) - Dr. Jack Newman's Candida Protocol is helpful when there is nipple pain and the previous treatments (AND food balance) doesn't work or you've found out you're dealing with thrush when it's an intense case (or really for anyone that just wants a more western medicine approach that actually works).  Like the natural remedies, this can be used from the beginning for any nipple discomfort until latch is managed or if you're not sure if its thrush or not or if it is another type of infection.  Keep in mind, this blend often prescribed by Dr. Jack Newman's International Breastfeeding Centre is really mostly for reducing pain, and may not support healing thrush because the best way to heal thrush is really to fix the latch.  The treatment the clinic uses to really treat thrush specifically, see the next bullet point.  The basics of this treatment are having a compounding pharmacy blend: Mupirocin 2% ointment (15 grams), Betamethasone 0.1% ointment (15 grams), and then add miconazole powder so that the final concentration is 2% miconazole. This combination gives a total volume of just more than 30 grams.  See Dr. Jack Newman's site for more thorough details as needed.
  • Medical-Grade Honey - This is NOT raw honey, despite its benefits.  Medical-Grade Honey is a form of manuka honey that has been pasteurized to remove the risks of botulism and other bacterial spores.  This removes the risks of infant botulism that comes along with store-bought and other raw honey forms that should not be fed to an infant less than 1 year of age.  Medical-Grade Honey is the form of treatment Dr. Jack Newman's International Breastfeeding Centre recommends for specific treatment of thrush (despite how much his APNO is used, see previous bullet point).  One brand of Medical-Grade Honey is called MediHoney and can be purchased on Amazon, among other health food stores and OTC pharmacies.  This is great for just about any scrape, cut, or burn so its great to have in your medicine cabinet and diaper bag.  For thrush on the nipples, simply coat between nursing sessions and keep the breasts exposed to air for oxygen flow, or a dry breast pad to avoid the sticky ointment getting on your clothes.  While Medical-Grade Honey provides moist-wound treatment excellent for nipple damage, this ointment is mostly natural and does not create a barrier where bacteria grows, so it is often a better treatment than many of the commercial herbal-based treatments sold in many health food stores.
  • Gentian Violet - Let me start this off by saying this is NOT a natural treatment despite what your mommy friends may tell you or what you read on mom blogs.  Gentian Violet is a dye used in surgical treatments among other scientific applications as well as to make black ink - among other things - but has been used for many years as a topical antibiotic.  A dilution of 1% can be painted on the nipples, then nurse, and touch up any uncoated spots after nursing.  Everything will be stained a bright plum purple for the duration of the treatment and a few days after.  This usually washes out of clothes, but not often so keep this in mind.  Coconut or olive oil can be rubbed on the baby's cheeks to prevent some facial staining.  Despite this not being a natural treatment, GV works very well and fast.  Many moms report relief within the same day.  If the pain has stopped after 3-4 days, discontinue use.  If not, continue for no more than a week for two reasons.  Too much GV may cause mouth ulcers (though this is typically from moms using a 2% dilution instead of a 1% dilution).  Also, because if it hasn't worked yet, it probably won't.  It may not be thrush and you could be dealing with a different kind of infection.  Gentian Violet can be found OTC in some pharmacies and, ironically, some health food stores.
  • Citricidal Grapefruit Seed Extract (GSE) - Again, this is NOT a natural treatment despite what your mommy friends may tell you or what you read on mom blogs - or even some physician sites.  While some forms of GSE may truly be the extract of grapefruit seed, the real extract of grapefruit seed has been shown not to be effective on its own and there is a lot of controversy surrounding this treatment for breastfeeding and any other bacterial imbalance.  This is also NOT Grape Seed Extract.  Grapefruit Seed Extract sounds like it is an extract from the grapefruit seed - but it is actually a concoction with various processes that has virtually no grapefruit seed extract remaining.  It is, nevertheless, often useful for thrush treatment in the same application manner as gentian violet after diluting 5-10 drops per ounce of distilled water.  GSE can be found OTC in some pharmacies and, ironically, some health food stores.

 

Remember to get treatment for latch and positioning and any other possible breastfeeding concern while treating for thrush.  Many times there are underlying causes that need addressed so recurring thrush doesn't damage your breastfeeding relationship.  Also keep in mind that other breastfeeding infections exist like mastitis (which is NOT the same thing as plugged ducts, though may be caused from them).  If these treatments don't improve your symptoms within a few days to a week, consider other causes and seek the help of a qualified breastfeeding professional.

 

Not everyone can hire a postpartum doula, nor has the family and friends able, willing or experienced to help during the postpartum weeks.  Often, Dad must return to work within a week and Mom is left alone at home.  Even with two parents home, taking care of one child, let alone multiple, can be an overwhelming task.  Reality is, we just weren't meant to do so much on our own, despite the number of years the western world has been putting independence on a pedestal.  Unfortunately, our culture is seeing the results of dispersed families, loan and credit card living, and lack of real community for the basic tasks of daily survival.

Nevertheless, this is our reality and tips to help us make it through the early parenting weeks and months are incredibly helpful.  Preparing for postpartum can be super easy when you start around your 36th week of pregnancy.  This gives you plenty of time to make freezer meals slowly while also getting you ready for if baby comes a little sooner than you might expect.

 

12 Tips for Prepping Postpartum Meals

  1. Keep postpartum meals wholesome.  It is easy to make heavy casseroles and comfort food, which often freeze well, and then not feel nourished when you need well balanced nutrition for optimal hormonal balancing and breastfeeding nourishment.  Comfort food is filling and yummy, and there's nothing wrong with this now and then - but remember to keep most of your meals nourishing and digestible to support a healthy milk supply, and emotional well-being.  Eat food blends that cover all the colors of the rainbow, especially green.
  2. Double up postpartum meals.  One of the easiest ways to prepare postpartum meals is to simply double your recipe for any meal and freeze half.  This allows very little extra time spent prepping additional foods.
  3. Single serve frozen postpartum meals.  It is common to freeze a big dinner for the whole family, but remember that Mom may be spending a lot of time alone in the house and may not need to heat up a whole meal - not to mention the extra time needed to thaw a larger meal.  Freeze breakfast or lunch burritos that can be warmed up when you want something a little more than a sandwich but don’t want to thaw out a whole dish.  If you’re a smaller family, get 3-4 meals out of your leftovers by packaging them in separate (disposable) containers.  This takes us to our next point.
  4. Thaw your postpartum meals the night before.  Once you have your calendar made, it will be easy to know what you're having and remember to set your meal in the refrigerator for faster cooking the next day.
  5. Meal Calendar Planning for postpartum meals.  Make a calendar weekly (or even for the first 6 weeks) of at least dinner options so that you don’t have to use energy to think about a wholesome meal which means you also save time (and likely money) when making a grocery list and shopping.
  6. Love your crock pot for postpartum meals.  Crockpots are great for large pots of soup, casseroles, whole chickens and vegetables, and leftovers.
  7. Splurge on organic and preservative-free processed foods. Everyone loves pantry items for convenience, but don't let convenience trump quality.  Spend some time canning your own soup or spend a little extra on higher quality brands in the health"ier" food sections to be sure you don't get bogged down with clogging chemicals when you need to feel your best.
  8. Make snack platters and fill bottles.  A great job for the birth partner, or anyone stopping by to help, is to prep the snack platters by opening any packages, washing any produce, and getting things ready to go for quick eating throughout the week.  Make a fruit and cheese tray.  Prep a veggie and fruit tray.  Do this every 2-3 days so you always have something fresh to eat while Dad is away, or when not even heating the freezer meal is an option.  Don’t forget to fill up reusable water bottles that can be tossed anywhere without spilling and placed at all the nursing places throughout the house.  These quick prep options also encourage mom to get out and get some sunshine and social time as the weeks go by because packing healthy snacks takes only seconds for you and any siblings.
  9. Keep snacks and drinks reachable.  If you have older children that aren’t quite at the independent stage, prep snacks for you and them at a reachable height.  This means they can go into the pantry or the refrigerator and easily grab healthy snacks and foods for themselves without your help for those marathon nursing sessions.  Don’t forget to include your own snacks at this height so they can bring you food or drinks when getting up is a little difficult.  Don’t forget items that they can make themselves to occupy their mind and hands, too, like lunch meat and cheese, roasted chickpeas, peanut butter, or pesto which makes an amazing dip or sandwich spread.
  10. Use an eCalendar planning service for postpartum meals.  Don't forget baby showers, blessingways, church groups, and any other network you're affiliated with for their desire to help postpartum.  A simple online web search will provide you with many options for meal calendar sign up aps and services to share.  These not only allow date sign-ups, but also provide options for take-out, gift cards, and sending meal boxes by mail for loved ones far away to lend a hand (not to mention house cleaning and yard work).  You can alternate these between your freezer meals and you can save your meals for when the help stops.  Don’t forget these postpartum help cards to hand out when you write your baby shower thank you notes.
  11. Cool meals completely before freezing.  Don’t forget to let your meals to be frozen completely cool before packaging to reduce sogginess when reheating and prevent thawing out foods when you put them in the freezer.
  12. Be conscientious about food storage.  Disposable trays are wonderful when avoiding the extra task of cleanup during postpartum but unfortunately these options are often limited to aluminum (which is a neurotoxin) or BPA or other chemically-lined paperware.  When possible, use glass for storage.  Bake in glass dishes and then store in something else, and where you’re able reheat in glass.

Looking for a few postpartum meal options?  Check out these recipes:

  • Apple Squash Soup - Wonderfully nourishing to the immune system and an excellent cool weather comforting meal.
  • Wild Rice Casserole - Casseroles are both easy to make and filling, and this one is doubly nourishing without all the heavy starches typical of casserole dishes.
  • Nettle Lasange - Twist up your lasagne dish with nutrient packed nettles - great for nourishment for the whole family, and for breastmilk.  (Don't have fresh nettles?  Sub 1/2 the amount the recipe calls for with dried nettles and a little water to reconstitute and blend in your sauce).
  • Broccoli Parmesean Vegetarian Meatballs - Excellent for a meatless meal, a snack, a side dish, or a main course.
  • 10 Crockpot No Cook Freezer Meals - Here is a great list of meal prep without the need to cook-ahead and all it requires is opening the bag and pouring in a crockpot for an easy peasy fresh dinner.  Excellent for the postpartum doula bag, too.

 

What was your favorite postpartum meal?

 

mommy brain esali birth

Mommy Brain have you in a fog these days?  It's no secret mothers (and fathers) experience a brain change after welcoming a child into their lives.  It starts with hormonal changes during pregnancy, and the neurological development often shifts the focus of prior careers and hobbies to survival - sometimes to the extreme of adrenal exhaustion in many western cultures where support is few and far between (or at least not geared towards healthy family development).

You've heard many mother's joke that they lost their brain during the birth, but this brain change really isn't a loss of knowledge, it's just a change of focus.  Just like all the other muscles in our body, our brain adapts to our daily environment.  We get really good at catching spit up before it happens and maybe not so zoned in on finite editing for work projects.  Mommy brain is a matter of priorities - it's OK to have a brain more geared towards biological nurturing than formula spreadsheets.  Mommy brain is really another description for "instinctual thinking" sometime the opposite of the logical thinking required for other aspects of our culture.

For many of us who continue, or decide, to work after having children - we can get a little overwhelmed with the amount of energy needed to raise a family.  How do we balance this new mommy brain perspective with the demands of modern life?  Here are a few tips:

Improving Mommy Brain

Eat well balanced

Without adequate nutrients, including healthy fats, your brain isn't going to work at full capacity.  Be sure you're getting all the colors of the rainbow, and don't forget the blue-colored foods known for their brain enhancing phytonutrients.  Pack your snacks and lunch for outings and for work.  Don't fall into convenience traps that end up reducing health and the bank account.  Think about your time schedule and pack what you can the night before or schedule this time for the morning.  Listen to your personal needs.

Sleep Well

Go to bed when you're tired.  Create a sleep environment that works for everyone.  Safe co-sleeping is known to improve sleep for the whole family because not only does this increase breastfeeding by having mom respond to slight movements of her baby, but it helps regulate baby's temperature and calm feeling to reduce waking overall.  Ultimately, though, you have to do what works for you because every family is different.  Whether it's cuddled right next to your baby, a sidecar for comfort, a mattress on the floor, or someone sleeping on the couch - if it allows the whole family to sleep better, this is going to increase your overall rested feeling, improve emotional reactions, and reduce adrenal fatigue symptoms.

Try to schedule your day and sleep to avoid the need for alarms.  Alarms wake you in the middle of your sleep cycle making you feel groggy and alerting your body with an adrenaline rush.  If you keep the same schedule every day, you'll eventually get into a routine that makes waking easier without an alarm.  If you're able to adjust your work schedule to fit your biological clock, this is the best approach; however, gently increasing the sound of your alarm may help to some degree.  Utilize work from home opportunities and flex schedules.

Get into a Routine and Don't Over-schedule

Not only is the work and sleep schedule helpful, but the ins and outs of every day can be exhausting.  Utilize seasonal cycle charting to improve hormonal balance that improves brain function.  Balance social functions and work events and if possible, change careers if this job isn't working for your mental and physical health.

Par down the wardrobe and zone in on either a few mix and match outfits with accessories or try wearing the same outfit like a work uniform, dress suit, and basic colors.  The less you have to decide throughout the day, the more energy your mommy brain can utilize for priority tasks.  Be sure your work wardrobe includes attire suitable for movement so you are comfortable all day and can get in walking and movement for improved health.

Create a meal calendar which not only reduces the amount you have to think about preparing when you arrive home, but you can better utilize leftovers made over to reduce the grocery costs altogether.

Self Care

Self care is for everyone in the family.  Daily, you need time to do whatever it is you like to do to feel clean, refreshed, and provide your brain with a bit of a break.  If we never take time to care for ourselves, we will eventually have a really difficult time caring for others.  Schedule self-care like it's your job because this is your number one job.  You lose that money-making job you have if you haven't cared for your emotional and physical self and things can go down-hill quick.  If you haven't cared for yourself, work load becomes work stress very quickly and mommy brain starts to look like full on depression.  Listen to your needs and request them while also providing this time for other family members as well.  Find your favorite relaxing spot and just be.  Don't mistake productive time for self-care.  You need time to turn off your brain and just be with your own thoughts and desires.  Just 30 minutes a day of self-care can do wonders for your overall mood, and mommy brain.

 

What's your favorite routine to improve your brain function?

Prepping for baby with postpartum meals is a great activity to get started around 35 weeks gestation.  A baby shower or blessingway is a great opportunity to start asking for [healthy] meals to stick in the freezer.  There are also many meal train websites for coordinating dates when the actual time arrives.

If you've ever received doula care from me, you probably know just how much I love Sausage and Kale soup.  To be honest, it obviously isn't the healthiest option - but it does pack a nutrient punch and is a sure way of getting kale, veggies, and bone stock into the whole family - even those most skeptical of changing their eating habits.

Sausage and kale soup tastes like autumn, but is soothing anytime and super quick to prepare.  I have introduced SO MANY men to kale, that are strictly meat and potatoes kind of people.  It often becomes one of their favorite meals, my husband's included.  You get a taste of that old traditional home cooked goodness with simple vegetables from almost any garden or farmer's market.

Bone stock is incredibly nourishing to the digestive system as well as supports tissue regrowth from skin, to ligaments and muscles, right down to the bone.  Not only for those with leaky gut syndrome, but for all to prevent inflammation from allergens and mono-diets.  The collagen and nutrients from bone stock help to build cells throughout the intestines and close gaps that enable allergens and toxins to move through the gut lining and tax the system.  Eating a bone stock based meal three times a week is a great goal for which to strive.  The key, however, is to use a bone stock that gels when it cools.  If it doesn't gel, then it doesn't have all the nutrients that provide the nourishing healing benefits to the whole body.  Bone broth (which is basically anything that doesn't gel, and certainly a broth that isn't made with the bones) can be used in a pinch, but you really want to get into a habit of cooking whole meats, saving the bones, and making your own stock (a post for another time).

Kale is a powerhouse.  Don't get me wrong, many foods are - so don't get into a mono-diet habit of finding one nourishing food and not balancing your meal choices with all the other colors, textures, and flavors.  Kale is easy, it can be grown in many mild climates throughout the winter, and it has a lot of uses (including tasty chip snacks).  So add it in with all your other seasonal selections in steamed or lightly cooked form.  As with all dark leafy greens (and many root vegetables), they are more nutritious when cooked until their color becomes vibrant.

Sausage and Kale Soup

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TCM Organ Clock

Sleep is a given, right?  If you don't sleep, you don't feel rested and your day can kind of go downhill from there.  If you wake up in the middle of your sleep cycle, you tend to feel groggy throughout the day and may stress your adrenals with the adrenalin boost caused by unnatural waking.

But, what else is happening when we sleep?  During the most common sleep hours, some of our most important body-support functions are happening.

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