Gifts born at home

December 19, 2011 at 5:52 pm

Gifts “born at home” are my favorite gifts to receive and my favorite gifts to give. Usually I’m spending this week each year hurriedly finishing-up the gifts I’m making for family and friends. So I thought I’d share some homemade gift ideas from my repertoire, in case anyone out there is looking for a last-minute way to hand-craft some born-at-home love.

1. Magnets

These have been a total hit with everyone I have given them to. My aunt found the idea at, made a bunch, and put them in cute little tins she found at Michaels. So I copied her. I have been making these for several years now, so I always stock up on gift card tins after Christmas when they’re really cheap in anticipation for making more down the road. I love seeing them all lined-up in their tin, ready to brighten someone’s day.

Thank you, Sarah

November 25, 2011 at 12:54 am

A picture of Sarah Josepha Hale is hanging in my living room. This is because Sarah is one of my heroines. Here’s why…

First of all, she wrote “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” and that is certainly something. But that’s not really why she’s so cool, it’s just an interesting little tidbit.

Sarah Josepha Hale was born in 1788 in New Hampshire, the daughter of a Revolutionary War veteran. As an adult, she became a writer and editor, and she used those talents to bring about wonderful things. I think that is the main reason I admire her, because I am a writer/editor who wants to do that too.

Sarah was the editor of Godey’s Lady’s Book (a women’s magazine) for forty years. It was the most popular and highest circulating magazine for women during its time. Through the magazine, she promoted women’s education and advocated for women in their roles as wives and mothers. She did not retire from her work as an editor until she was 90 years old. And she wrote and wrote! By the time she died, Sarah had published nearly fifty volumes of her written work.

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Cervical scar tissue and cesareans

September 12, 2011 at 9:13 pm

One of my most popular blog posts is one I wrote just over a year ago called “Cervical scar tissue.”  In that post, I shared important information about how scar tissue from various procedures (LEEP, D & C, etc.) can potentially impact future birth experiences, causing labor to stall for hours or days if the scar tissue isn’t massaged by a caregiver to help it release and allow the cervix to dilate completely.  I also said:

I have a hunch that cervical scar tissue is likely contributing greatly to the rising cesarean rate. . . . Unfortunately, doctors aren’t usually around while their patients labor, so massaging the scar tissue rarely happens. Instead those women far too often get stamped with “failure to progress” after a long, exhausting labor, and sent to the operating room.  Many spend the rest of their lives believing they’re incapable of giving birth vaginally. (Cervical scar tissue)

And now I’m even more convinced than ever that a large percentage of today’s cesareans and “failed” VBACs are happening as a result of cervical scar tissue. A comment from Lauren on my post has alerted me to something alarming:

Mom’s Granola

August 31, 2011 at 4:29 pm

I have fond memories of waking up to the smell of freshly toasted granola.  I don’t know if I’ve ever eaten granola better than my mom’s. And most of the people I’ve ever made it for agree and ask for the recipe. Many of you requested the recipe when you emailed asking for my Treasure Box questions, but last night (as I was making granola with my husband) I got thinking I should just post it here on the blog!  Why didn’t I think of that before?

I would do the same with the Treasure Box questions, but there are a LOT of them and I can’t remember all their sources (they came from lots of different websites). I just don’t feel good about getting traffic from stuff I cut and pasted from other websites without giving them credit.  When I originally created the list of questions, it was just for my own personal use, so I didn’t bother keeping track of where I got them.  Oh well.  I’m still happy to email my list to any and all!

I think I could also call this granola “HELLO-MILK Granola.”  The weeks when I’m eating this granola, my let-down and milk supply are typically much stronger, even too strong!  Makes sense since oats are supposedly a galactagogue and the nuts and seeds are packed full of nutrients.  It’s worth trying, if you’re struggling to keep your milk supply up.  If it doesn’t work, at least it tastes good.

Mola mei tai

June 22, 2011 at 8:02 pm

Back in the 60’s, my dad lived and served as a missionary among the Kuna people who live in the San Blas Islands off the coast of Panama.  The people called him “Orokua” which translated from Kuna means something like “little round golden girl.”  Ha ha!  It’s kind of a long story how that came about.  My dad loved the Kuna people, and they loved him back.  So, I’ve spent my whole life hearing stories of the Kuna, seeing photos of their distinctive dress, and looking at the stunning hand-crafted Kuna art my dad brought home with him. Molas are part of the traditional dress of the Kuna women. They are elaborate hand-sewn reverse-applique panels with intricate designs. For several of my teenage years, I had a mola hanging just outside my bedroom on the wall. My grandma has a mola hanging in her living room. My dad has many molas hanging in his home.

Busca’s birthing brew

February 5, 2011 at 11:55 pm

Since August, I’ve been concocting a birthing beverage in my head. A couple of nights ago, my husband and I tried it out.

It’s a lot tastier than it looks. :-)

First I’ll give you the recipe, and then I’ll explain the why-to’s…

Emergency Preparedness

January 29, 2011 at 4:56 pm

Regardless of what type of disaster may strike or how severe it is, there will always be pregnant women in need of special assistance. Pregnant women are among those most at risk in disaster situations, in part because severe stress can trigger premature labor, but also because so many women are forced to give birth under precarious circumstances. When hospitals may be over-flowing with sick and injured survivors, roads or transportation inaccessible, and electricity likely unavailable, women who would otherwise have given birth at the hospital will have to seek alternatives.  It is also a possibility that hospitals will only have resources for the most high-risk pregnant women, leaving low-risk mothers to give birth with little or no assistance from staff.   Even in the absence of a large-scale disaster, on just an ordinary day-to-day basis, sometimes a birth happens too quickly to make it to the planned location or before a qualified birth attendant can be present.

Robbie Prepas, a certified nurse-midwife, saw many such births first-hand during the Hurricane Katrina disaster.  She delivered five babies in the New Orleans airport, twins in an ambulance, and provided impromptu care to hundreds of pregnant and postpartum women, checking fetal heart tones, etc.  She explains, “There were no policies or procedures in place to care for pregnant women or mothers and their babies after Katrina.  We even lacked such basics as diapers, formula, baby bottles and clean clothes” (“Disaster Preparedness for Mothers & Babies: Getting Prepared”).  Midwife Mary Callahan, CNM, MS, also assisted in the Hurricane Katrina relief effort, providing midwifery services to displaced women in a large shelter and assembling emergency birth and prenatal kits for use in other area shelters (“Chicago Midwives Travel to Baton Rouge”).   While we may be fortunate to cross paths with a doctor, midwife, or paramedic with birth supplies in an emergency childbirth situation, we can’t be certain of such luck. Given all of the possibilities, the best course is to have plans and supplies in place so that we can meet our specific needs in emergency situations.

DIY cardboard play kitchen

November 1, 2010 at 10:05 pm

I realized yesterday that I never shared our January 2008 DIY play kitchen adventure on this blog. Since the holidays are coming up, and I love homemade gifts, I’m eager to share how we made a play kitchen from recycled moving boxes… here it is!

Years ago, my brother and his wife gave us the play kitchen their kids had outgrown. It was fantastic. Our girls got a lot of use out of that thing. You can see part of it in this picture here…

Electrolyte replacement

August 18, 2010 at 10:30 pm

Getting fluids in early labor

Pregnant women and women in labor often need electrolyte and energy boosters.  While many recommend using Emergen-C or sport drinks like Gatorade, here are some alternatives which might be more suited to a laboring woman’s needs:

  • Homemade electrolyte drinks
  • Midwife Kim Mosny recommends this “Labor Aid” recipe…

    * 1 qt. water
    * 1/3 c. honey
    * 1/3 c. juice from a real lemon
    * 1/2 t. salt
    * 1/4 t. baking soda
    * 2 crushed calcium tablets

    Here’s another similar recipe including magnesium (I assume it’s also added to a quart of water)…

    * 1/3 cup lemon juice (preferably fresh-squeezed)
    * 1/3 cup honey
    * 1/4 tsp. sea salt
    * 1/4 tsp. baking soda
    * 1-2 calcium/magnesium tablets, crushed, OR 1 Tb liquid calcium/magnesium supplement

  • Coconut water, “nature’s electrolyte,” an isotonic beverage (having the same level of electrolytic balance as we have in our blood).
  • [Coconut water] was significantly sweeter, caused less nausea, fullness and no stomach upset and was also easier to consume in a larger amount compared with [carbohydrate electrolyte beverage] and [plain water] ingestion. In conclusion, ingestion of fresh young coconut water, a natural refreshing beverage, could be used for whole body rehydration after exercise. (Saat, et al, 2002, Rehydration after Exercise with Fresh Young Coconut Water, Carbohydrate-Electrolyte Beverage and Plain Water)

  • Vitalyte (a.k.a. Gookinaid), an electrolyte drink created by biochemist and marathon runner, Bill Gookin
  • I am very impressed with the successful use of VITALYTE for fluid and electrolyte replacement in labor, often in cases in which the only recourse would have been intravenous fluids. -Jonathan McCormick, MD, Ob-Gyn

    We have now successfully used VITALYTE for treating morning sickness (including hyperemesis with twins), pre-term labor (by correcting fluid and electrolyte imbalance) and pre-eclampsia (for increasing fluid volume and sodium intake). I am very pleased, don’t care if we ever create an RCT to “properly” study it all. -Marla Hicks, RN, midwife (source)

What do you drink in labor?

Got lecithin?

August 4, 2010 at 6:05 pm

Partway through my first pregnancy, I started having pain in my pelvis. It wasn’t the normal round ligament pain. It started in my lower back and radiated through my whole pelvis into the hip joints. When I walked or climbed stairs, it was especially bad. Eventually, I could hardly walk without excruciating pain, lasting for weeks. I asked my doctor about it, but I think all he told me was, “That’s normal.” Thanks, doc. It sure didn’t seem “normal” to me. If only I had met my friend Meredith way back then!

Meredith and I met at our doula training in February of ’09. Some time afterward, when we were hanging out at one of our houses, she started telling the story of how she switched from a doctor to a home birth midwife mid-pregnancy (with her second baby). She began by describing some pelvic pain she had been experiencing and how her doctor was no help to her. Bells and whistles started ringing in my head… Hey! That happened to me too! I had almost forgotten about my first pregnancy pelvic issues until she mentioned hers.

Good-bye, Gerber

July 26, 2010 at 10:25 pm

Click on the image for more info.

Last summer, when my son was approaching six months old, a friend introduced me to the “baby-led weaning” concept, and I was almost immediately sold. Basically, baby-led weaning approaches the introduction of solid food from a developmental (and common sense) standpoint. Its proponents argue that a baby shouldn’t be given any food other than breastmilk (or formula) until that baby can feed him/herself (usually this doesn’t happen before about 6 months). Or, in other words, babies’ digestive systems will be truly ready to process solid foods when they are physically able to pick up food, take it to their mouths, chew/mash it, and swallow it. Makes sense, huh? No doubt it’s the way human babies began eating food for thousands of years. At least until rice cereal appeared on the scene.

Treating mastitis

July 21, 2010 at 2:59 am

Most women who’ve given birth and subsequently nursed their babies have at least heard about the possibility of developing mastitis (if not experienced it themselves). I have, on one occasion, developed what appeared by my estimation to be mastitis. It started out with what seemed like a plugged duct. I had experienced a plugged duct before, so I nursed frequently on that side while massaging the painful area. Eventually the pain was accompanied by flu-like aches all over my body. I didn’t want to wait around for the fever to start, so I immediately opened up my Nursing Mother’s Companion to see what suggestions were there. I was a little disappointed that it didn’t offer many concrete natural treatments and encouraged women to see their doctor for a prescription of antibiotics to avoid having the infection progress into an abscess. I have only taken antibiotics twice in my memory–once for an ear infection as a teenager and later for a supposed UTI (which was probably not actually a UTI in retrospect). I am not a big fan of antibiotics, and I think we all know they’re over-prescribed, over-injected, and largely responsible for the scary super-bugs we keep hearing about. So, needless to say, I didn’t want to go to the doctor and get a prescription.

No-sew baby wrap instructions

July 1, 2010 at 3:18 pm

I frequently peruse the clearance fabric looking for anything stretchy and breathable. You can never have too much stretchy, breathable fabric.  That is, if everyone you know is having babies. Wrap-style baby carriers are my new favorite gift for pregnant mommas because they are a must-have for busy moms who need their hands, and they’re incredibly easy to make.

Here’s how (I consulted this site to figure out the details):

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