Fertility Supporting Lifestyle Tips

Fertility Promoting Lifestyle, Habits and Supplements

Remember that the eggs and sperm you have now are based on lifestyle and environmental factors from 3 months ago. It is a good idea to work on detoxification through diet and lifestyle changes for 3 months prior to aiming for conception through natural or artificial reproductive measures.

fertilityart

Diet: In general following the Mediterranean diet that is abundant in vegetables and fruits and fishes and cold pressed oils, has been shown to promote fertility and egg and sperm quality in both men and women. Many people have undiagnosed sensitivities to wheat that may impair the immune system and effect fertility so avoiding wheat products may be an important step to take as well. Aim for as many organic and ocean fresh rather than farmed seafood and free range/grass fed poultry and dairy and meat sources. Full fat dairy (organic preferably) has also been shown to enhance fertility.

Drink: Aim for 1/3 to ½ of you weight in ounces of filtered water a day. Limit or discontinue coffee and other high caffeine and or sugar beverage consumption.  Aim to drink most beverages at room temperature or warmer, especially in the cooler months. It is best to drink the bulk of your water 15 minutes before meals or 45 minutes to an hour after meals.

Exercise: Exercise is a key to balanced health and vitality, however too much can impair fertility. Aim to exercise 3 to 5 times a week with a goal of maintain a heart rate of between 120 and 140.  Exercising in nature is powerful medicine beyond the benefits of exercise. Also consider gardening and yoga as rejuvenating forms of exercise.

Reduce Exposure to Environmental Toxins: If you or your partner work in an environment that may expose you to toxins (construction, chemical labs , lawncare, farming, computers…etc.) be sure that all protective measures are taken to limit exposure at work and be sure to remove and  isolate work soiled clothes and shower immediately. A shoe free household can help limit household exposure to environmental toxins.

Drink filtered water, avoid pesticide treated lawns and eat organic as much as possible and at least avoid the dirty dozen, heat and store food in glass or nonreactive metal, do not drink or heat food in plastic containers or covered with plastic wrap, follow safe seafood consumption guidelines and use green cosmetics and cleaning products. The Environmental Working Group is a great resource to help you become a safety savvy food and product consumers.

Do not wear cell phones close to reproductive organs. Do not use a laptop directly on the lap. This is especially important for men.

Menstrual products should be organic and unbleached. Menstrual cups are a good affordable option.

Stress management: Too much stress shuts down reproductive pathways in men and women. Regular acupuncture, adequate/appropriate food and water intake, regular moderate exercise helps reduce stress. Aim for at least 15 minutes of joyful activity every day. Be in harmony with your partner. Seek out counseling if you need to. Meditation, mindful based practices and time in nature are stress relieving. Saying no to excessive commitments and saying yes to yourself and family are essential to allow a family to grow.

Medications: Some medications including calcium channel blockers, sulfasalzine or mercatopurine, Cimetidine, Cyclosporin, Spironolactone, Keoconazale, steroids or antidepressents may affect fertility and vitality of pregnancy and offspring. Talk with your provider about alternatives if you are on any of the above medications.

Substance use and abuse: Cigarettes, excessive alcohol consumption and recreational drug use are not compatible with maximizing fertility. If either partner has a substance use/abuse issue, it should be treated and discontinued to optimize fertility and maximize parenting potential.

healthy-man2

 

Male behaviors and habits: Sperm are very sensitive to overheating. It is essential to avoid hot tubs and tight briefs to allow for proper temperature regulation of the testicles. Cyclists should  invest in a special seat to limit restriction and pressure on the genitalia and if sperm count is an issue may want to discontinue cycling while trying to conceive.

Sexual Habits:  Timing of sexual intercourse and ejaculation is important to maximize the likelihood of pregnancy. Tracking cycles with a Basal Body Temperature chart, and ovulation predictor kit(OPK)  and observing cervical mucus can be a powerful tool in identifying fertile times as well as helping highlight possible areas of imbalance in the cycle.

At the very least sex should occur three to four days before ovulation and definitely on the day of the LH surge (which can be identified through an OPK).

Another way to consider optimal times of sexual activity ending in male and ideally female orgasm, is to pay attention to cervical discharge. A few days after the menstrual flow has stopped completely cervical mucus should begin to appear. Once the mucus appears have intercourse ending in orgasm every other day. Keep each other revved sexually on the off days through foreplay and romance that does not end in male ejaculation.  Look for the egg white slippery cervical discharge and be sure to have sex that day.

If there is no noticeable cervical mucus: Through acupuncture, diet, herbs/supplements, cervical mucus can be improved. It is the medium that makes it possible for the sperm to meet the egg. A lack of healthy cervical mucus can be the barrier to conception. If you do not seem to have noticeable cervical mucus, it is important to use a lubricant called Pre-seed during 4 days before ovulation.

Once male ejaculation has taken place, it is important for a woman to rest for half an hour or more on her back, possibly with her legs up the wall to promote better blood flow to the pelvis and allow the sperm to travel into the uterus to prepare to meet and penetrate the egg. This resting time is a great time to visualize and caress and whisper sweet nothings to each other.

supplements

Supplements: Supplementation helps ensure that there are ample building blocks present to promote healthy sperm, egg and fetal development.

Basic supplementation includes a well balanced, bioavailable prenatal/multivitamin and fish oils. Thorne, La Sante and Standard Process daily pack are some of the quality multivitamins available.

I recommend roughly 2,000 mg of a cold pressed screened for toxins fish oil a day, for men and women.

Zinc is also essential for reproductive health and can be supplemented with and handful of raw pumpkin seeds a day.

A yummy health shake to incorporate pumpkin seeds includes a handful of soaked (overnight) pumpkin seeds or almonds, a few dates, half a banana and water blended cinnamon and vanilla can be added to taste.

Co Q 10: Helps improve energy production at a cellular level. It has been shown to increase vitality of egg and sperm. It is especially helpful in increasing sperm motility. (60-400mg per day is recommended. I usually recommend 200mg two times a day.)

Additional herbs and supplements may be indicated based on specific challenges a couple may be facing.

 For a printable copy of this information click this link: Fertility Promoting Lifestyle

Nontoxic and Stink Free: Homemade Deodorant

I often say to my patients and friends, if you wouldn’t put it in your body you shouldn’t put it on your body.

We live in an ever more toxic environment; much of our exposure to environmental toxins can not be completely controlled.

tips-to-stop-body-odor

However, we can control what we choose to put in and on our body.

Hygiene products, like body washes, shampoo, conditioner, and deodorant can be a huge source of endocrine-disrupting chemicals.

deodorant

Of course, most people want to feel and smell clean and are afraid that stepping away from their favorite store brand may leave them sticky and stinky. Unfortunately, many “natural or organic” deodorants leave you smelling worse than you did without them. Since I work in close proximity with my patients, I needed to find a way to smell good (at least not bad) and honor my mantra of “only put on your body what you would put in your body.”

Fortunately there are many helpful resources to find ways to make really good products to use in your daily body and household maintenance with substances you probably have in your kitchen pantry.

Following are a few that I have found helpful:

http://www.passionatehomemaking.com/

http://www.healthextremist.com/

http://www.crunchybetty.com

The last batch of homemade deodorant I made has received rave reviews:

I followed the recipe from http://www.passionatehomemaking.com/2013/01/homemade-all-natural-deodorant.html and added some delicious essential oils for their therapeutic benefits as well as divine scents. With just three basic ingredients this recipe is quick and easy.

Ingredients:

6-8 Tbsp Coconut oil (solid state)
1/4 cup baking soda
1/4 cup arrowroot powder or cornstarch (arrowroot is preferred over cornstarch, but cornstarch can be substituted if that is what you have)

I added about 10 drops of frankincense and lime essential oils to this and everyone who has tried it has loved it.

You can also add a bit of vanilla from your cupboard or any other yummy scents that come from pure essential oils.

For more information about safe body and household products, and to see if your products withstand the test of reducing your toxic load check out:

The Environmental Working Group: http://www.ewg.org/

Skin Deep: http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/

Washington Toxics Coalition: http://watoxics.org/

Be the change you want to see. Yes we should have policies that protect us from corporations dumping toxins into our food, body products and our environment. We can work towards that, while taking care of ourselves.

Fall and Winter Wellness

Tis the season for pathogens to fly about and lodge into our ears, noses, throats, and lungs.  However, illness is not inevitable and if illness strikes we have tools to put up an efficient fight.

A strong body, especially if it is supported by good rest, nutrition, and maybe a little extra herbal care (this time of year) will not succumb to a mild or moderate pathogen.  However, a strong pathogen or a weaker body, or an ignored body because we are too busy to rest, eat, or notice that tickle in our throat before we are struck down for days, weeks, even months does happen.  It can happen to you; it happened to me.

Following are some tips and tools to protect you from the nasty bugs and keep you healthy and strong.
Some of this is the information we all know, but don’t always apply:

  • Get enough sleep and down time. If you have a problem with insomnia, review the information shared in my last blog article:  http://www.newmoonacupuncture.com/insomnia-aids/
  • Eat well.  This is soup, stew, and roasted vegetables season, use garlic and onions with reckless abandon make your crock pot your friend.  Remember refined sugar weakens your immune system and it takes 24 hours for it to rebound.
  • Drink plenty of clean water; half your weight in ounces.
  • Supplementing with vitamin D3 can be important.  I have chewable orange-flavored fish oil that also has vitamin D in it that some of my kids eat like candy.
  • Stay warm and protect your head, neck and waist from cold air.  Wear scarves, turtlenecks, and coats and shirts that keep your middle covered and warm.  Rice-filled socks can be heated in the microwave and thrown around your shoulders before going out into the cold, or throw them on your belly or by your feet when you go to sleep.
  • Preventative herbal care:  Elderberry syrup can help keep your immune system strong. Immuplex is a great whole food multivitamin with extra immune boosting properties. There are some great East Asian Herbal formulas that a licensed practitioner can prescribe.
  • Moxibustion on Stomach 36 is an ancient preventative therapy to keep your immune system strong and pathogens at bay.  This blog article and the link details using moxa on Stomach 36 and we are happy to sell sticks of moxa to anyone:  http://www.newmoonacupuncture.com/conditions/immune-support.

If you feel a tickle in your throat, heaviness in your chest or sinuses, or are just tired and achy, take action (and inaction).

  • If you start feeling run down, clear your schedule and rest.  Your body needs energy to fight pathogens.
  • Eat well and cut out pathogenic white foods:  Dairy, white potatoes, and refined grains and sugars.  Increase healing white foods:  Onion, garlic, radish, turnips, pears and apples.
  • Keep drinking plenty of water and warm fluids (not coffee or black tea).  Drink water every time you cough to keep your lungs well-hydrated.  If your throat is raw, add some olive oil to the water.
  • Herbs:  Increase dosing of Elderberry syrup to 3 times a day.  The Chinese formula Yin Qiao or Gan Mao Ling are great to stop a pathogen at the first sign.  I keep these in stock during cold and flu season.  If the pathogen settles, there are other great formulas that can support a quick recovery.  Cupping, gua sha, and acupuncture are always helpful.
  • A few drops of hydrogen peroxide in each ear:   http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=endscreen&v=M0t1K_-YA30&NR=1.
  • Easy to make cough remedies:  4 T. honey, 4 T. lemon juice (or apple cider vinegar) and if desired 1 tsp whiskey or rum.  Warm it on the stove so everything mixes well and take a tablespoon 3 to 6 times a day.  (To make this stronger add 4 T. raw onion juice.)  Another homemade remedy is:  1/4 tsp cayenne pepper, 1/2 tsp ginger, 1/4 tsp cloves, 2 T. honey (or to taste), 2 T. water, and 1 T. apple cider vinegar.  Take 3 teaspoons when needed.
  • Inhaling the scent of peppermint essential oil (from the bottle, on a cloth or diffuser) can help reduce spasmodic coughing and asthma attacks.
  • Wet sock treatment:  Our in-house naturopathic physician, Dr. Laura Flanagan, recommended this to me and I believe it helped me turn the corner from succumbing to illness to entering recovery.  This website has good directions: http://www.vsnaturopathy.com/Wet-socks.html.

Miso Promotes Health, Prevents Disease, Helps with Colds and Flus

whatismisolongReal food, is real medicine and miso is an ancient food that is a prime example of food as medicine. Eaten regularly, it can promote health and prevent disease. Used therapeutically, it can help overcome a cold or flu and help convalesce from mild to severe illness.

South River Miso is my miso of choice, it is made in the united states, it is stored in glass or ceramic containers and has the greatest variety (including gluten and soy free)  and taste that I have ever come across. I am planning on placing an order for miso from South River miso by the end of March. If you would like to join in the order to save on shipping and possibly get a price break, let me know what you would like.

The following is from the South River Miso web-site, please go to the site to find out more about the healing powers of miso and the variety that South River miso supplies.

Miso (pronounced mee-so) is a delicious all purpose, high-protein seasoning which has played a major role in Japanese culture and cuisine for centuries. It is most often made from a combination of soybeans, cultured grain, and sea salt by a unique, double fermentation process, which was elevated to a state of fine craftsmanship in traditional Japan.

In Physical Constitution and Food, Dr. Shinichiro Akizuki, director of St. Francis Hospital, Nagasaki, writes:

I have found that, with very few exceptions, families, which make a practice of serving miso soup daily, are almost never sick…. I believe that miso belongs to the highest class of medicines, those which help prevent disease and strengthen the body through continued usage…Some people speak of miso as a condiment, but miso brings out the flavor and nutritional value in all foods and helps the body to digest and assimilate whatever we eat….

This a recipe, my associate Connie Christie shared with us during our Solstice open house:

Miso Soup with Scallions – A cure for the common cold
By: Diane Joswick, L.Ac., MSOM

Did you know that Miso Soup with Scallions is actually an ancient Chinese herbal remedy for colds?

In 300 AD famous herbalist, Ge Hong, writes about Miso Soup with Scallions in a book called, Bei ji zhou hou fang or Emergency Formulas to Keep Up One’s Sleeve.

The soup is indicated for the onset of a cold when a person is just beginning to feel a headache, stuffy nose and a slight fever.

So, the next time you feel a cold coming on, be sure to have your miso!

Miso Soup
Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 6 cups water
  • 3-4 Tablespoons Aka Miso or red soy bean paste (usually sold in the refrigerated section)
  • 3-5 green onions stalks, chopped

Directions:

  • Dissolve the miso in a little bit of boiling water (about 2 tsp.)
  • Bring water to a boil in a saucepan and add the miso & scallions.
  • Simmer for 5-10 minutes.
  • Remove from heat top with green onions and serve.

Variations: you can add various other ingredients to make a more substantial soup, such as tofu, fresh mushrooms, cooked shrimp, snow pea sprouts, cooked rice noodles, or paper-thin slices of fresh ginger.

Save your Bones with Nutrition not Pharmaceuticals

As a health care provider, a woman and mother: Bone health is near and dear to my sternum.Bone-Health

I have a number of patients who are on Fosamax or who have been on Fosamax and either stay on it for lack of trustworthy or affordable alternatives, or go off of it to avoid its very real negative side affects and just worry about whether they are doing enough to protect their bone health. There are safe alternatives. They just have to be applied to be effective.

I have come across a number of non-pharmaceutical nutritional products that claim to maximize bone health. They range in price from $50 to $200 for a month”s supply and some of them have some great research behind them. However, the following article about the prune diet, is not only well researched, it is almost completely food based except the 500 mg of calcium and 400 IU of vitamin D a day. In addition, the therapeutic dose of prunes, may well help cure another common ailment of many women I know.

If you or someone you know is worried about bone health, read the following article, implement its recommendations (12 prunes, at least 500 mg calcium supplementation and 400 IU Vitamin D a day) and and ask me about other options for supporting bone health.

The ‘Prune Diet’ reverses osteoporosis
Jacob Schor ND FABNO
www.DenverNaturopathic.com
November 13, 2011

A study published in last September’s British Journal of Nutrition has moved the “Prune Diet” from something we thought might work into the category of something that looks like it does work.

Hooshmand et al describe the results of a clinical trial began in 2007 by Bahram Arjmandi. A group of 160 postmenopausal women were split into two groups. One groups ate dried plums each day while a second group ate dried apples each day and acted as the control. All the women took calcium (500 mg/day) and vitamin D (400 IU/day).

Bone mineral density was measured at the start of the study and at 3, 6 and 12 months.

Those women who ate dried plums had significantly increased bone mineral density of ulna and spine in comparison with those who ate dried apples. Those eating the dried plums also had significantly decreased serum levels of bone turnover markers including bone-specific alkaline phosphatase and tartrate-resistant acid phosphatase-5b (this is a good thing to see). [1]

The idea that prunes could be used to treat osteoporosis isn’t new. This study just confirms what earlier studies had already been telling us,
that consumption of dried plums improved bone mineral density (BMD) by suppressing rate of bone turnover. Daily consumption of prunes should now be considered a valid strategy for prevention and treatment of osteoporosis.

Many women we see are quite hesitant to take the bisphosphonate drugs prescribed for osteoporosis. There are good reasons that they do. The big story is the growing evidence that links these drugs with osteonecrosis of the jaw, what is commonly called ‘dead jaw syndrome.’ Then there are the more recent indications that long term use actually increases risk of femur fractures.

[NOTE: Dried plums are the same thing as prunes. The dried plum term might be considered a euphemism employed to rebrand this long time staple food in order to increase sales. The official name change happened in 2000, so now under Food and Drug Administration (FDA) rules prunes are officially ‘dried plums.’]

Bahram Arjmandi who is listed as a coauthor on the September’s paper, has been investigating dried plums for over a decade; his first paper was published in 2001. [3]

In fact the current report is almost identical to a pilot study Arjmandi published in 2002. Arjmandi had previously shown that dried plums were, “ … highly effective in modulating bone mass in an ovarian hormone-deficient rat model of osteoporosis…..” So, Arjmandi conducted a study, “…to examine whether the addition of dried plums to the diets of postmenopausal women positively influences markers of bone turnover.” Fifty-eight post-menopausal women were randomly assigned to eat either 100 grams of dried plums or 75 grams of dried apples every day. The prunes but not the apples, “…significantly increased serum levels of insulin-like growth factor-I (IGF-I) and bone-specific alkaline phosphatase (BSAP) activity.”

High levels of both of these chemicals are associated with faster bone formation. Serum and urinary markers of bone resorption, however, were not affected. The drugs typically used to treat osteoporosis focus on the other side of the equation; they slow bone resorption.

Since then Arjmandi has written a string of papers using animal models of osteoporosis in order to better understand the action dried plums have on bone. In a 2005 paper using ovariectomized rats, he reported that, “Dried plum, ….[restored] femoral and tibial bone density…. increased lumbar bone density as well, ….. improved bone quality …. [and] improve[d] trabecular microarchitectural properties in comparison with ovariectomized controls.”

Arjmandi pointed out the unique action dried plums had on bone:

“Loss of bone volume accompanied by loss of trabecular connectivity is generally believed to be an irreversible process, but our observations suggest that dried plum improves trabecular microstructure of tibia after losses have already occurred.” [4]

Similar benefits were obtained using castrated male rats and reported in 2006: “…. dried plum completely prevented the … [castration induced] decrease in whole body, femur, and lumbar vertebra bone mineral density (BMD).” The bone resorption biomarker deoxypyridinoline (DPD) rose by 36% in the castrated rats but dropped 57% in those rats consuming dried plums. [5]

In 2007, another rat study found that while dried plums were effective, parathyroid hormone was even more effective at restoring bone mass. [6]

Arjjmandi began this clinical trial under review when he moved Florida State University in 2007.

Several additional papers of interest have been published while this trial was underway. A 2008 paper explained that, “Dried plum polyphenols inhibit osteoclastogenesis by downregulating NFATc1 and inflammatory mediators.” [7]
A 2009 publication tells us that the polyphenols in dried plums “…..attenuate the detrimental effects of TNF-alpha on osteoblast function…” [8]

Of particular interest is a 2010 paper reporting that a combining dried plum and fructo-oligo-saccharide (FOS) supplements increased both of their bone restoring effects. In fact this combination had a greater effect at increasing bone density than any other functional foods yet tested. [9] Also of note, there is an additional mouse study published in 2010, showing that dried plum supplements could restore lost bone mass in aged mice. [10]

Although this current study leaves little doubt that eating dried plums preserves bone, the question then is whether patients can actually be eat enough of these things? The daily dose of dried plums used in this experiment was 100 grams, that’s equivalent to about a dozen prunes. For a lot of people that many prunes will have a laxative effect. Knowing what to do and doing it may prove to be two different matters. One way to approach this is to simply take prunes, “to bowel tolerance.” That means eat as many as you can comfortably. Over time you can increase the dose as your body learns to tolerate move over time.

Another option is to combine the prunes with other things or foods that have the opposite effect on bowel transit times (BTT), things that tend to be constipating. Calcium certainly does this to many people. So do ground poppy seeds and carob powder. It is perhaps noteworthy that both ground poppy seed and prune paste have been traditionally consumed in close proximity in certain cultures. Keep this in mind if your prune tolerance is low.

Fortuitously, a fair percentage of patients who are in the age that they may benefit from “prune therapy” also have relatively slow BTT (that’s the fancy way to say they are constipated) and this prune prescription may provide relief.

Breath Matters

If you are reading this you are likely breathing.
However how much of your lungs are you really using? Are you nourishing every cell with your inhalation and really expelling the old stale air with your exhalation? Or are you breathing shallowly, you diaphragm barely budging, your breath filling only a small portion of your lungs?

So many of us are starving. Our breath is shallow and our diet is suboptimal. It is a marvel we have energy to do anything, much less move beyond the basics.

I invite you this week to nourish yourself more completely. Through food, breath and movement.

If we want to move beyond survival we must hold fast to the basics:

Drink half your weight in ounces of purified water daily.

Aim for at least 80% of your food to be a close to nature as possible (the farmers markets are in full swing and a great resource for local food).

Breath deeply and completely, as if your life depended on it.(Since it does.)

Following is a breathing technique from a lovely birthing resource:

Though this book is geared toward a laboring mother. It is remarkable for anyone. This is from page 68-69 of Labyrinth of Birth by Pam England. I am modifying the language to make it more inclusive.:
Step One:
This works best with a straight spine, so sit up, stand or walk tall.
In breath: Imagine, as you breath in, you are pulling life giving energy from your root chakra downward and backward along (the inside) of your perineum, and up your spine to the crown of your head. It is important to imagine your breath moving upward following the curves inside your spine. Attention on upward-moving inhalation is uplifting and refreshing.

At the end of your inhalation, in the brief pause before exhalation begins, focus your attention on the crown of your head or on your forehead between your eyes.

Keep your eyes slightly open, gazing softly downward. Looking up distracts you from your inward journey. Closing your eyes completely would interfere with walking or allow you to fall asleep. A soft downward gaze allows you to “be here now.”
Practice this inhalation meditation for a few breaths.

Step Two:
Out Breath: Follow your outward breath, from beginning to end, downward through your body, from the top of your head to the bottom of your belly, just above your pubic bone. Imagine this life giving breath re-energizing every organ, every tiny cell, in your body. Practice this exhalation meditation for a few breaths.

Step Three:
Fill and spill the “cup of breath.” During this step you will begin to experience the circular pattern of breath: breathing up the inner curves of your spine, breathing down into your body, up and down. Feel the relaxing rhythm of circular breathing for several breaths.

Now notice the brief pauses between your in-breath and out-breath, and between your out-breath and in-breath. Bringing your attention to this still place between breath slows down the mind and deepens meditation. Pay attention to this in-between-breaths place for the next few breaths.

It may help to deepen your meditation to add the “cup of breath” imagery. Imagine a little “cup” sitting behind your pubic bone area. As you exhale, instead of letting the breath dissipate, imagine it is pouring into the cup. During the pause between outward and inward breath, imagine the full cup tips backwards and, as you breath in, you pull the life giving breath from the cup across your perineum and up your spine.

Step Four: Walking in Circular Breath Meditation. Now you are ready to combine circular breathing with walking. Focusing you attention on breath and walking together works like clockwork to deepen your peace of mind.

Shulamit Devorah’s Birth Story and more

I had expected her to come close to or after her due date  of December 26.

I had work left to do: I had clients to see, money to earn and save, more household order to create, baby clothes, diapers and blankets to find and clean, important discussions to have, fears to express and destroy, sleep to catch up with, big issues to resolve.

Early Labor:

I had two nights of just a twinge more than Braxton Hicks, a few hours of interrupted sleep. I was scheduled to work through the 23rd and should have planned to stop sooner, but I had patients’ needs to consider, and income to earn. I did not want to be waiting, watching my belly, waiting, waiting, and waiting.

I worked Thursday the 16th; thankfully it was a short day. I was contracting off and on, able to work but not always able talk through the contractions. Maybe I had just been too busy and not drinking enough water or eating enough protein. (Yes, I strive to do what I advise, and very humanly fall short.)

So after consulting with my midwife, Cathy Weston, I ate a good dinner and drank lots of water. I went home and directed my household to complete undone nesting in order to create the birth-space I needed. I took a bath to stop the contractions or relax into them; whichever needed to happen.

They let up a bit. We got the children to sleep. I rested and slept, awoke every twenty minutes with achy moany contractions. I got up and discovered that I had lost my mucus plug. Clear signs baby was coming sooner rather than later.

Active Labor

I filled the bath tub. I called Cathy, texted, and then called some of my birth support team. I still wasn’t completely convinced I was in labor and felt a bit guilty waking people in the middle of the night; especially if it wasn’t really happening…

But it was. While in the tub, I moaned through my surges and swayed my hips in a figure eight or spiral and invited my body to open. The surges rolled in, irregularly and intensely. I asked my friend Johanna to get the birth tub set up while I relaxed in the bath tub a bit more. The surges flowed on, I moaned and swayed, then got out to help facilitate the birth tub filling. I had never given birth on dry land and preferred the heavy labor in the water.

The tub was filling and too hot for me to get into. Cathy had arrived, she arranged her supplies strategically, checked the water, and checked my blood pressure.

I labored in the kitchen bracing myself between our island and counter, moaning, swaying, opening… praying. I labored draped over the couch holding my husband’s hand or chatting between contractions. I drank labour aid, I pottied as needed, I wanted the birth tub to be full I wanted the warmth, the buoyancy and comfort…the midwife’s epidural was calling to me… we filled it more it was at safe temperature. I immersed myself and surrendered to the surges that kept coming irregularly with immensity. As surges rolled in, my throat opened, a birth song bellowed out my hips swayed, my body opened and my baby continued her journey out.

I stuck in a few spirit calming needles, in myself and some of my birth team. Daniella used the OHM forks to soothe us and move us through the intensity and beauty of this time.

In my previous births, my water would break right before I began to push. Pushing was a primal urge that embraced my core as I provided passage for my baby out. This time was no different, after a longer lull in surges…I knew my water would break with the upcoming surge. I became a freight train, my horn rang out, my water broke, I pushed and the baby’s head soared down to my opening. I felt her head, a lot of it, I felt the burn that often summoned Johnny Cash and chugged through the end of the freight train surge.

Havivah woke with my sounds, just in time to assist Cathy with perineum support and new baby head guiding. Anthony held my hand; we declared that we can raise our family with the love and compassion that we aspire. We have room in our life for this new baby. We will do the work we need to be a strong family and a joyful couple.

The next surge was an avalanche, I roared and pushed and her head completely emerged with no time to sing a Burning Ring of Fire and no need. Her head was almost completely out. I guided my flesh around her head, to smooth out the last of our journey. In my third push, her head was fully delivered. With the next push, she rushed out into the water; I reached down to her and saw her hands, her head, her raven hair and blue green eyes. I kept her in the water for a bit to marvel at her beauty before her first breath.

Out of the water, her sweet pink tongue tasted her first breath. I held her in my arms and drank her in and fell in love again.

After the Birth

So often we mothers focus on the birth as being the feat to overcome. Forgetting that the minutes, hours, days, and weeks following birth are extreme.

There she was in my arms at 3:33 Friday morning, December 17th, 2010, our Shulamit Devorah, whom we had waited for so long.

Solomon woke up at some point and couldn’t take his eyes off his newly birthed sister. She gazed at me; she turned her head toward her dad and her siblings’ voices. She opened her mouth and nestled me, a baby bird needing to feed.

Many babies are ready to feed minutes after birth. Early feeding helps minimize uterine bleeding, can facilitate delivery of the placenta, and soothe and nourish the newly born. I put Miss Shulamit to my breast, her cord was short (12 inches) and still attached to the placenta and still attached to me. Her position on my nipple was not ideal and it hurt…but I was so euphoric and in love I let her plug through. (I would pay for this later with a very sore cracked nipple.)

The placenta finally released and I delivered it: Achy and oogy.

The cord no longer pulsating, Cathy clamped it and Havivah helped cut it.

We moved from the birth tub to the bath tub. Cathy had filled the tub with some soothing herbs. I rested in the tub for a bit while Anthony and Havivah and Solomon held Shulamit and bonded with her. When she came to me Cathy told me to support her by her jaw and let her float and unwind in the tub. She stretched out and moved and swayed. I could see the movements I had felt for months; they made so much more sense to see them on the outside. We looked at each other in awe.

From the tub there were more feedings, more sibling cuddling and finally sleep.

The first waking after birthing is surreal. What had been one are two. There is a baby bobbing on my chest looking for food. I feed her, it is tender: Her tiny mouth does not quite match my anatomy. Though I can’t see it, I trust she is getting colostrum and keep alert for her first eliminations.

We feed when she is awake or cueing in her sleep. When it hurts through the suckling, I readjust her to minimize nipple trauma. That first feeding injured my most challenging side.

After pains:

They say that every subsequent birth the after pains are worse. I vaguely remembered them with my three previous births. I think we are primed to forget them.

These after pains roar in with a vengeance. They are worse than the labor pains and I cannot stay in the water with them. They come on strongest with nursing and the nipple pain at initiation is toe curling, then the after pains surge in. I must stay in the moment and get through it. I know it won’t last forever. It may be days before this passes, so I get through each feeding, each after pain one at a time.

Cathy tells me to take one teaspoon of Calcium and Magnesium every two hours. Maybe it helps. The she brings me a Black Haw and Cramp Bark tincture to take every 5 minutes if needed. I take it before and during nursing and it helps some. I also take Motherwort tincture to help with the emotional challenges. I also take Rescue Remedy in my water and sprinkle it on my kids and husband.

After a day and a half of after pains, that continue to make me moan to get through, I remembered to use my OHM forks. Oh, bliss. The forks directly over my uterus mellowed the roar to a hum. I would also use them on other points and I was able to move through after pains with more grace and less distress. I also began taking a Postpartum Chinese formula to help with the after pains and rebuild my Qi and Blood. The heated health stone in a moxa-infused pouch helps comfort my belly and back, and helps rebuild my strength.

After three or four days the after pains are done. The nipples are healing.

Breastfeeding:

Baby is nursing beautifully every 2 hours or so, with some help. The initial nipple damage from her first nursing is still healing and historically it has been my hardest breast to feed on due to the flatness of the nipple.

Alecia Burgett, a local independent IBCLC, referred me to biologicalnurturing.com. Following the recommendations of reclining and nursing and resting made a world of difference. Also trusting that as my baby grows as long as I teach her how to latch on properly with a wide open mouth and lips flanged out we will get by and thrive. It takes at least six weeks to really get breastfeeding established and then it becomes second nature.

I am in baby bliss: Living in baby time. The demands of work and schedules are merely a whisper. I will stay here as long as I can.

Then I will create the balance of family and work.

It is hard, but it is worth it.

Knowledge, support and self care allow us to weather these storms and soar.

We are blessed and we keep breathing.

Success with a Painful Condition

This is not the most comfortable health concern to talk about for many reasons, but many people suffer from it and feel helpless.

You need not be helpless against:

Hemorrhoids

What a pain in the tush!

They often crop up during pregnancy or after delivery. They are common in people with sedentary jobs and poor fiber intake. Men and women alike have found themselves cursed with this painful condition. Yet suffering an embarrassing silence, or relying solely on Tux or other witch hazel products are not the only recourse.

I have had success in a number of cases or dramatically reducing the pain and discomfort associated with this condition. Sometimes within minutes of treatment.

Acupuncture and herbs (collinsonia root) and appropriate water and fiber intake can dramatically improve hemorrhoids.

One client after almost two weeks of not being able to work and barely able to mother because of her discomfort. Received some improvement from the herb collinsonia root alone and was virtually pain free within hours of her acupuncture treatment.

I promise there is no local needling involved with the acupuncture treatment!

Let’s get to the point: Hemorrhoids hanging out and making it hard to sit, stand or eliminate? Get some acupuncture, one treatment may give you remarkable results. With herbs and slight diet modification results may last a lifetime. Life is challenging enough without a real pain in the butt.

pregnant bellys
Pregnancy and childbirth can be common causes of hemorrhoids.

Kale Salad

This recipe comes from one of my clients, it sounds delicious. I am going to make some for dinner tonight. This would be appropriate to eat year round and with the 21 Day Purification program.

Cut one, clean bunch of kale into bite sized strips.

Drizzle enough olive oil (or other cold pressed healthy oil) over the top of the chopped kale to coat it.

Add 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt (or my salt combo of equal parts sea salt, kelp or dulse flakes and onion or garlic powder)

Massage the oil and salt mix into the kale (you will be using your hands), this makes the kale the perfect texture for a raw kale salad.

Once the kale had been oiled and softened add whatever other veggies and salad bits sound delicious or eat the kale salad as is.

Sample salad: Kale, apples. avocados, olives, sesame seeds, shredded carrots and cabbage.

You may add an additional dressing for added flavor.

Delicious, beautiful and certainly nutritious!

Purification Recipes

The Standard Process 21 Day Purification Program is a powerful tool to start getting your health back into balance. Unlike many detoxes, the purification program is full of delicious and nutritious foods and shakes. I have found the greatest success with this program when my meals are planned out and I always have something satisfying to eat or drink with me throughout the day.

I wanted to provide some delicious recipes with you to enjoy through your purification journey and throughout your days.

“Sweet roasted cauliflower”

Set the oven to 400 degrees Farenheit.

Cut up a head or two of cauliflower and put in a big bowl.

Pour on glop of olive oil.

Sprinkle some salt and pepper. (I use my salt mix that is 1/3 Real Sea Salt, 1/3 Dulse flakes, and 1/3 onion or garlic powder.)

Mix well, to coat the cauliflower.

Cook at 400 for 1 hour. The high temperature helps seal in the sweetness.

Delicious hot or cold, can be ground up to be a substitute for mashed potatoes. Yummy!

The recipes in my previous posts: Beets Rock! are perfect for the program as well.

Standard Process also has a number of yummy recipes on their site.

Enjoy the recipes and greater health!