Video: Steph Tallent and Nancy Webster share their experiences with Anemia and how to re-build your iron levels.
Category Archives: Birthworld
Video: In this informational video from Beeyoutiful Views, Steph gives some tips on reducing stretch marks.
by Mary Ewing
“Pack an extra change of clothes for baby and yourself.”
“Sleep when your baby sleeps.”
“Have a diaper ready and waiting before you start changing in case
he ends up going again…um, make that three or four ready!”
“Keep a nursing station in several rooms with snacks, water, and reading supplies.
That way you stay nourished, hydrated, and well read.”
These were just a few of the sage tidbits passed along to me before my first baby was born. And while they came in handy, what I did not realize until after the birth was that no one had even come close to preparing me for the realities of what it’s like to have an infant to care for.
I was ready for myriad diapering problems, knew chapter and verse about nearly every possible philosophy on how to get babies to sleep, was up on most spit-up and peed-on stories, but no one had sat me down and shared serious probabilities like:
∙ I would need an entire six weeks to recover after having the baby;
∙ I may have a lot of inflammation, maybe even a tear to heal from;
∙ Nursing may not be the entirely glowing and bonding experience it is touted to be (although it was bonding and often glowing, it was also at times uncomfortable and hard work);
∙ I would need to eat a good deal of nutrition-dense foods so my baby would get enough to satisfy her;
∙ My body would not be the same again for a long time, if ever.
I was not prepared for standing in my hospital room 24 hours after having our first daughter, battling nausea (from blood loss), continuing pain (I tore badly), exhaustion, and being disillusioned that my body looked really bad. On top of all that, I now had an infant who was totally dependent on me for her survival.
I don’t say this to discourage you from having children, because I gladly endure all of this to have my four kids (and hopefully more in the future)! I’m writing this because I wish someone had forewarned me, so I could be a bit more prepared and not so shocked by the “new normal.” Had I known there were things I could do to boost my blood supply immediately and eliminate some of the nausea and exhaustion or that there were simple things to help with some of the pain after labor, I would have definitely had a leg up in starting motherhood.
With what I learned, my subsequent postpartum recoveries have gotten progressively better. So pull up a cup of tea, and let me share with you a few things out of my postpartum experiences that may help you avoid the unnecessary problems I encountered my first time around.
Diet Not Thyself!
For nine months, I relished having a good excuse for my expanding waist line. Once I held my baby, though, I was ready to fit immediately back into my “real” clothes. I remember looking at my middle right after that first birth and literally crying at how terrible my abdomen looked. I was ready to jump on the diet band wagon—and I did. Wrong move.
Even though I was due to be a bridesmaid in three weddings just months after having her, my Emma would have been better off if I hadn’t tried so hard to “get in shape” for the events. She was fussy and not satisfied with nursing so I, like a lot of people, thought my milk was just not very good. I began to supplement immediately. What I have since learned is that when I was dieting—i.e., starving myself—I was also depriving Emma of the rich fats, proteins, and other nutrients needed to help her feel satisfied and full. Therefore, during the postpartum weeks and throughout nursing times, you should not try to lose weight by limiting foods.
By the time we welcomed my third baby into the world, I was so flabby that my midwife could actually put her hand between my abdominal muscles, but by then, I also knew how to manage my diet the right way for baby and me. What you can do after a birth is to eat the same diet I suggest for pregnancy.
The Weston A. Price Foundation (www.westonaprice.org) nursing mother and pregnant mom’s diet provides both you and your baby with a fantastic, balanced array of nutrients to help you both: you to heal and restore and your baby to grow and develop. It also offers the added benefit that, because it disallows all junk foods, you should better achieve your optimum weight. Add to that the calorie-burning properties of nursing, and there is a real possibility you actually will achieve a slim waist (just don’t make that your primary goal).
Many people recommend a postpartum exercise plan to help with slimming down, but please be cautious about over-exercising during nursing. While functional exercise is tremendously beneficial to maintain functionality and movement, I would caution against extreme exercise routines or rigorous training regimens—especially long distance running—because most such approaches burn too much fat. This can deplete your fat reserves which are needed to help your baby. Find a functional routine that encourages moderate cardio exercises and flexibility.
Oh So Tired!
Tiredness comes with the territory when you have a new baby. Your infant needs constant attention, and tending to her is only made more exhausting if you already have other children that need you, too. Despite what everyone says about sleeping when your baby sleeps, you still need to wash clothes, shower, and cook. The blood loss that comes with a birth also contributes to your exhaustion. And while I can’t solve your laundry problem, I can suggest some great supplements for extra energy and help with post-birth anemia.
Beeyoutiful’s Liquid Chlorophyll is terrific for boosting blood cell formation. This will help your body produce what you need to replace what you lost. In addition, it’s a great anti-inflammatory which will help decrease inflammation caused by birth. For my last two children, I’ve started taking Liquid Chlorophyll within minutes of the birth and have not experienced the nausea and vomiting I did with my first two children.
Regardless of which sleeping philosophy you choose for your child, remember this as you are helping your little one adjust to life: your baby has lived in a warm, peaceful place for nine months, always soothed by your heartbeat and your movement. Taking a baby out of that and expecting him or her to self-soothe immediately is an unreal expectation. The first few weeks should be a time of holding and teaching a baby to soothe. Don’t set yourself up to fail by expecting yours to be a perfectly scheduled baby from day one. Soothing skills must be learned, and you are the teacher. So give yourself and your new one some time to recover and to enjoy each other, even if that means a few more days until you attain your perfect schedule.
The Pain that Didn’t Go Away
Once the birth trauma is past, it can be disappointing to find out how much you still hurt. You ache all over and have afterpains—and it tends to get worse with each baby. With my first two children, I used a large amount of narcotics and other pain relievers. But I was super excited to use Beeyoutiful’s Ow!-Ease to reduce soreness with my most recent baby. I rubbed the salve on my abdomen and back to relieve pain. Combined with Bromelain, using it eliminated any need for prescription or over-the-counter pain medications. I was thrilled because this not only prevented my baby from ingesting the drugs but helped me stay more alert and able to care for the baby. (Note: Ow!-Ease is not for use on broken skin. Do not apply it to any cuts or abrasions, and use it with care around the baby. Thoroughly wash your hands of any residue before handling your infant.)
Miracle Skin Salve was my second, equally loved, friend. I wish I had known of Miracle with my first baby. I had such bad lacerations I couldn’t walk without pain for over a month. Thankfully, I haven’t experienced such bad ruptures since, but I have had a lesser one which my midwife still thought may need stitches to heal properly. Wanting to avoid suturing, I applied Miracle Salve liberally to the one-inch tear, and when my midwife did her five-day checkup, she was amazed to find that the tear had almost healed. Although she cautioned me to take it easy, she said I was free to resume normal activities. Not only had Miracle helped heal the tear super-fast, it had completely relieved the pain. Other than the first day, I felt no discomfort at all. Definitely worth having—and spreading—around!
Getting Your Hormones to Behave Again
Emotions are raging, skin is dry, your body is rearranging itself, you’re hot then cold, your world feels like it will never be the same again. Thankfully, time does help, the support of family and friends is invaluable, and there are some great supplements that can relieve a lot of the symptoms—or at least make them tolerable.
Beeyoutiful’s Red Raspberry Leaves has probably been a friend throughout your pregnancy, and it can still be your friend now. It helps tone your uterus and allow it to shrink back into its regular size and place. Raspberry also helps some women increase milk supply. I love the convenience of the capsules, especially since adjusting to life with a new baby can be hectic. Although I love to drink red raspberry tea, it is much simpler to use the capsules and be assured I’m getting an appropriate amount each day.
Evening Primrose Oil is my next favorite. Unfortunately it has taken me four postpartum periods to realize what an asset this simple fatty acid can be for a recovering mom. I had horribly dry skin after having my latest baby. A nutritionist suggested I add Evening Primrose Oil to my regimen. After just 24 hours of consistent use, I saw a marked decrease in skin dryness, and my emotions seemed a lot quieter. My skin regained its turgor and softness within three days of starting EPO. I also realized the hot flashes had stopped, my breasts were no longer tender, and I felt much less soreness. In addition, EPO helps relieve hemorrhoids, and the oil’s fatty acids are tremendously important in relieving postpartum depression.
I’ve outlined below a few other helpers that are important during this time.
- Magnesium Citrate. Your body is working hard to keep up with the demands of your newborn baby and her growing body. As a result, the reserves in your own body can get depleted. Magnesium levels in particular are often reduced quickly. One of the biggest symptoms of this is “being snippy.” There are, of course, a load of potential reasons to excuse your snippiness, but wouldn’t it be nice to alleviate the need for them with just a few capsules? Magnesium helps relax muscles, including your baby’s. A baby lacking magnesium is often fussy, so by taking your daily magnesium, you can relax both you and your baby.
- Tummy Tuneup and Digestive Enzymes. You may have worked on your digestion prior to and throughout pregnancy, and it isn’t time to stop yet! Anything you take into your body will also help your baby as he adjusts to eating, drinking, and eliminating. These two supplements will help build baby’s digestive tract, as well as help her process anything in your breast milk she may be having a hard time digesting. It also helps you because the last thing you need right now is an upset stomach! I have not only taken the Tummy Tuneup myself, but from Day 1, I give it to my children. For a nursing baby, I sprinkle a small portion on the nipple just prior to nursing. My goal is to get an entire capsule in my wee one each day.
- Colic Calm Gripe Water. This one is for the baby! I learned about Gripe Water when my son was small and very colicky. After I spent weeks walking and rocking a screaming child, my mother-in-law found this great bottle of gold. After giving it to him just a few times, we were both in heaven, and I’ve never since been without it while there is an infant in our house. It quickly relieves pain and helps baby rest. I’ve recommended it to many friends who are always quick to sing its praises. Several key ingredients help calm the digestive system, bind with eliminate and the offenders, and relieve pain. It is safe for daily use or can be used for breakthrough problems as well.
Wouldn’t Trade It for the World
Even with the pain, exhaustion, long days and long nights, irritability, depression, unknowns, and emotional moments, I still would not trade a second of mothering for anything. In the midst of all that happens after birth, you won’t get these days back again. The sweet cuddles, the tiny baby melted onto your chest as he sleeps, the smells of a newborn, the tiny clothes, and adorable grunts and coos will only last for a few short weeks before they’re gone forever. Cherish and enjoy each minute. Love on that baby, and take care of yourself. Hopefully with a little help from the friends I’ve introduced you to, you can look back at these times and have only good memories of your recovery!
Products mentioned in this Article:
Practices for a Pleasant Pregnancy
By Mary Ewing
After three pregnancies, each featuring a number of “pregnancy symptoms” and baby complications following the birth, I had resigned myself to the idea that all my pregnancies would be difficult, and my health would never be great while pregnant. Still, I envied women who actually enjoyed pregnancy. Many feel wonderful and love every minute of it. But I had never experienced such a thing!
Throwing up was a way of life form me with most of my pregnancies-sometimes the entire nine months. I was constipated, had blood sugar problems, anemia, back aches, swelling..you name it! Since I was convinced a lot of my problems centered on nutrition. I decided to change my diet and be faithful with supplementation to see if my next pregnancy would be any better.
The first few weeks of my fourth (and current) pregnancy were still hard-tiredness, vomiting, migraines, and dizziness-but I stuck with my plan to stay on a healthier diet, get moderate exercise, and use supplements. Slowly I noticed a difference and by week 15, I was actually starting to feel good. By 20 weeks, I consistently felt wonderful. For the first time ever, I was pregnant and felt fine at the same time.
Despite my success, I was quaking in my boots as I went for gestational diabetes and anemia checks around 30 weeks. I just knew some of my problem was “genetically me.” I’ve always battled hypoglycemia and anemia, so when my midwife took blood samples, we waited nervously as her machine ticked down the seconds. I almost fell off her couch when the results came back not only normal but textbook normal. As the weeks have passed, I continue to feel fine, sleep well, and have fairly decent energy levels.
So what did I do this time? Three things:
1. Traditional Diet with Supplementation;
2. Moderate Exercise
3. Good rest.
Traditional Diet with Supplementation
In my “Pre-Pregnancy” article (Beeyoutiful Fall 2010 Catalog), I recommended the Weston Price Foundation approach to a healthy diet: raw milk, farm fresh eggs, good fats (butter, animal fats, coconut oil, olive oil, cod liver oil), bone broths, lacto-fermented vegetables, and grass-fed meats and vegetables (see Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon on page 12). This has become the mainstay of eating for my family and me. I’ve also limited my intake of white flour, white sugar, empty calories, preservatives, and chemicals. Eating 2 tablespoons of coconut oil each day has helped to decrease my cravings for carbohydrates and starches and to maintain my pregnancy-appropriate weight gain. My protein intake is 80-100g per day, equally spaced throughout the day, and making sure to have a healthy portion in the morning. Protein is crucial to the development of your baby during pregnancy. Most people consume only about 35g per day. That level can sustain you and your baby, but it increases your risk for developing toxemia or pre-eclampsia.
Early on, it was sometimes a struggle to eat these things when I felt yucky-Sprite and a chocolate chip muffin sounded much better. But if I chose to eat a bowl of bone broth, I would often start to feel normal again soon. Thankfully, as I entered my second trimester, I felt much better and was able to eat the suggested diet without problems.
Even the best diet often lacks key nutrients crucial for ourselves and our developing babies. Therefore, supplementation is essential, and I cannot tell you what a difference this pregnancy has been. My husband is grateful for Beeyoutiful because supplements have meant a lot less complaining on my part!
SuperMom-an excellent prenatal multivitamin. I’ve had some problems early on with tablets, but using the capsules four times a day instead helps ease my indigestion or discomfort. On days I was having a particularly hard time stomaching things, I found that taking SuperKids was a great way to get my vitamins without the discomfort. These supplements provide important building blocks to help keep you healthy and nurture a strong baby.
Tummy Tuneup or Ultimate Defense probitoics. I’ve taken Ultimate Defense because of nausea and to insure the best gut health possible, eliminate nausea, and pass on a healthy gut to my newest addition. A recent study links a decrease in childhood allergies to use of probiotics during pregnancy.
Digestive Enzymes. There’s a theory about morning sickness that links it to the live and a back-up of toxins. Digestive Enzymes can help the body break down these toxins and ease morning sickness. It also helps the body use the nutrients in food, decrease bloating, and indigestion (see Beeyoutiful’s article “The Essential Work of Digestive Enzymes“.
Folic Acid. Although Folic Acid is most critical during the first few weeks of conception and growth, it’s important to continue supplementation throughout pregnancy. Check with your midwife or health practitioner for the specific amount to take, because this varies between individuals. Typically 400-800 mcg per day is recommended. SuperMom contains 400 mcg, so you will likely need to take extra. Also, on the days you just can’t stomach much else, Folic Acid’s small tablet is a great source of folic acid without having to take a bunch of pills.
Magnesium. Wow! I can’t say enough about this one. The migraines and constipation I feared were the norm for all pregnancies…are not. I had heard many years ago that magnesium was crucial for migraine sufferers, so when my migraines peaked again in the middle of pregnancy, I took a healthy dose of magnesium every day. Within several weeks, I no longer suffered the constipation my OB had told me was completely normal and expected in pregnancy. My husband was thrilled, too, because it meant I no longer read a full novel every three days, camped out in the bathroom. I also slept much better than I ever had. In addition, magnesium helps prevent pre-eclampsia and pre-term labor. I take Beeyoutiful’s Magnesium and split my dose with two capsules in the morning and two before bedtime. I take it with raw milk because calcium is great coupled with magnesium.
Cod Liver Oil. Another “Wow!” moment when I started taking this. Although it had been on my shelf for years, I just didn’t want to take another thing. But the energy, clarity of mind, and overall vitality I experienced was incredible. To be sure that Cod Liver Oil was making the difference, I took myself off of it for a few days. Within a week, I was sluggish and feeling drained again, so I haven’t missed it since. It not only nourishes your brain but provides your body with crucial Vitamin D3 which helps keep your immune system in high gear. In my first three pregnancies, I struggled with colds and viruses several times during each one. (Nothing more miserable!) But with this pregnancy, I was 35 weeks along before catching even a slight cold, and it ran its course in just 48 hours!
Red Raspberry Leaves and Evening Primrose Oil. These two are excellent hormonal supports during pregnancy, and they prepare the uterus and body for labor. I did take these in my third pregnancy, and although I can’t confirm their overall impact, my labor was only four hours long-tolerable until the last two hours or so! I have read many different suggestions regarding when to start taking them. I suggest personal research and asking your midwife or health practitioner what is best for you. Each woman’s body is different, and the needs should be specifically addressed.
Supplements to keep on hand:
Activated Charcoal. This has been a lifesaver during this pregnancy, for two reasons: (1) A horrible stomach flu went through our family while on vacation. I immediately grabbed the charcoal and began regular doses. Although I typically catch any and all stomach viruses, it totally skipped me! (2) It greatly relieved morning sickness and indigestion. When I felt bad or had that acidy feeling in the pit of my stomach, I drank a slurry of Activated Charcoal powder. While I don’t mind the slurry’s taste and texture, others may prefer tablets or capsules. (NOTE: With regular use of charcoal for morning sickness, be sure to take either a mineral supplement or to mineralize your water because charcoal can decrease the mineral population in your intestines.)
Pregnancy Tea. Oh, what a comfort you are! When I am not feeling well, have a lack of energy, feel extra emotional, cold, or just want to enjoy a cup of warm tea that’s good for me, I relish Pregnancy Tea. Its slightly spearmint flavor is quite a comfort when mixed with a little honey and sipped in my favorite rocking chair.
Ow!-Ease. For those back aches or round ligament pains, Ow!-Ease is my favorite pain reducer. If occasional back or neck-aches creep up, Ow!-Ease delivers instant relief.
Exercise and the Rest
During this pregnancy, I’ve tried to stay as limber as possible. In the past, I’ve tried to stay active, but by 30 weeks, I usually take to the couch. Backaches are my biggest enemy, along with swelling of the legs and feet, and being generally uncomfortable. I have found several things to help combat this.
1. Regular/weekly chiropractor appointments. Find a reputable chiropractor who will work with your midwife or health practitioner to privde the care you need while pregnant. I found an incredible chiropractor-a young dad himself-who has been diligent to communicate with my midwife about my specific needs. The results have been amazing. I’ve had no backaches since seeing him, no nausea, no swelling or round ligament pain (which plagued me non-stop with my last two pregnancies), and I am much more active. In addition, he convinced our little one to flip head down and engage early in the third trimester. He advises that pregnant women find a chiropractor who is familiar with natural medicine and trained and/or certified in the Webster techniques. Most chiropractors will work a cash payment deal with patients who do not have insurance, so make sure to ask them about arrangements for paying.
2. Bradley-recommended exercises. I had hoped to take a class in the Bradley method this pregnancy-yes, even though it’s my fourth time around! Unfortunately it didn’t fit into our schedules. Yet, I checked several resources out of our local library that offer a few chapters about moderate, appropriate exercise-mainly stretching and positioning. Kegel exercises are very important as well. I spend at least half and hour a day relaxing my body and practicing relaxation. This has helped tremendously to relieve stress or tension pain that often accumulates with pregnancy, and I am hoping to experience its benefits in labor as well! (Editor’s note: Mary reports that this was the first of her four labor/delivers that she was actually able to maintain relaxation throughout the entire time. Her support system, which most had been with her through all four delivers concurs! She is thrilled with the results of this exercise in relaxation.)
3. Drinking plenty of water. Water retention is usually a sign of dehydration. I’ve known this through all my pregnancies but have not followed it as closely as I should. Usually by 30 weeks, I look more like a sausage than a person. But thankfully, between the chiropractor helping blood flow through the pelvis with a loose and straight spinal column, the stretching and increased water consumption, I have not had to battle thick extremities. This in not only beneficial to me but also to the baby. It helps insure good blood flow to the little one.
4. Get enough sleep. Sometimes easier said than done-but important. Since I am a night owl, I began enforcing an earlier night time for myself and thankfully began sleeping longer stretches. Also, turn off all electronics in your room.
Even though I haven’t attained that “perfect” pregnancy yet, I’m excited about the progress on my journey of making this process healthier for myself and my future child. Sitting here tonight, I feel the kicks and jabs of my little one as she stretches and grows, and I’m extremely thankful for the insights I’ve gained over the last few years. I hope it won’t take you as long as it did me to discover the joy of feeling good while pregnant!
Editor’s Note: Please join us in Celebrating with Mary on the safe birth of her fourth child on December 26, 2010. Charlotte Elizabeth Rose Ewing weight 7lb 8 ounces, 20 ¼ in. We are so happy for Mary and her husband, Talmadge Ewing, and the proud siblings, Emma, Elliot, and Maggie! Mama and Baby are both doing very well, which Mary credits in no small part to the nutrient dense diet she enjoyed during her pregnancy.
Mary Ewing is a part-time employee for Beeyoutiful, as well as wife, mother, and aspiring homesteader. She stays at home with her four children and enjoys exploring life with her brood as they cook, clean, garden, and play. Her passions are traditional cooking, essential oils, gardening, learning about raising lifestock, and traditional forms of art such as sewing, crocheting, knitting, and smocking!
Products Mentioned in This Article: