Building better breast milk

March 16, 2012 at 11:20 pm

Giving your babies breast milk is one of the greatest gifts you can give them, regardless of your nutritional status. But over my 8+ years as a momma studying pregnancy, birth, and breastfeeding, I’ve learned of several ways we can take that wonderful gift of breast milk and make it even more beneficial to our babies. We’ve probably all heard that consuming lots of omega-3 fats (through fish and plant sources) will benefit our babies’ brains and our own emotional health, but there are other ways to improve the quality of the milk we produce for our babies. Here are just a few of them…

1. Chlorella

Not long after my fourth baby’s birth, my mom flew into town with all sorts of supplements. One of the supplements she wanted me to take was chlorella. I wasn’t sure whether it was safe to take while breastfeeding, so I started doing a little internet digging to find out. That’s when I found a Japanese study about the effects of maternal chlorella supplementation on breast milk.


February 11, 2012 at 4:32 pm

I’m gearing-up to do another “God’s Medicine Chest” post, so I have healing foods and produce on the brain. It’s also on my brain because of this “pin” I saw and shared on my new Birth Faith Pinterest board. It was a blogpost from The V Spot outlining how to store a variety of fruits and vegetables. And it reminded me of the trusty chart I have on the side of my refrigerator, torn from Delicious Living Magazine about a decade ago. It’s been a really helpful resource all these years, and it covers most of the fruits and vegetables people eat every day (even more than The V Spot covered so beautifully).

Silver lining

January 16, 2012 at 6:04 pm

Back in November I posted about some weird health issues I was having. I thought some of you might be wondering what became of all of that. Here’s the latest…

  • Most of the time I’m not really dizzy anymore. Once in awhile the dizziness emerges, but I have been steadily improving and expect to be whole again soon.
  • I’m avoiding mushrooms, most foods fermented with yeast, some corn products, some aged cheeses, MSG, and most processed meats. I feel good about continuing to avoid them.
  • Avoiding bread and yeast for several months had an unexpected silver lining. We realized that as long as my daughter doesn’t eat bread/yeast the chapped lips and eczema sores she is has been plagued with around her mouth every winter of her life stay away! Here are some pics from several years ago…

Just call me the family filter

November 22, 2011 at 5:50 pm

The older I get, the more my body tells me (screams at me) that I can’t eat like a “normal” person.

This past week has alerted me to some additional food sensitivities (I have many) that I hadn’t been aware of before. That knowledge came packaged in a full week (and counting) of dizziness. I kid you not when I say there were some moments over the past week when I felt like I just might be on the verge of death (who knows, maybe I was?). Fun, fun. But all of it has helped me to piece together a bunch of puzzle pieces about my body that hadn’t made sense before. I will now be adding a lot of things (things I love to eat) to the list of foods I need to avoid (or eat very sparingly) in order for my body/mind to function well.

I have known since I was a teenager that I am allergic to mold, but I never really thought of it as a food allergy. We got an air filter (for my basement bedroom) and assumed my bases were covered. Turns out it is a food allergy (at least for me). And fungus is everywhere. Those mushrooms I binged on a couple of weekends ago… bad, bad idea.

Apparently people with mold allergies are also often sensitive to yeast in its many forms (good-bye bread), including fermented foods (good-bye probiotics). This explains why the homemade kefir made me dizzy and why homemade sourdough foods made me dizzy. And it’s a darn good thing that I’m a Mormon ’cause alcohol would be sheer poison to my body. This also explains why I felt dizzy while sleeping for two weeks in my dad’s (likely mold-infested) basement last summer.

As a little child

November 15, 2011 at 2:40 pm

When I grow up, I want to be like my baby.  Here’s why…


1) She wakes up smiling from ear to ear every day, full of enthusiasm for life and eager to get started. I don’t think this has ever been true of her not-a-morning-person momma. But I wish it were.

2) She lives the old “early to bed, early to rise” adage. This is probably largely responsible for #1. I think we’d all be much happier, healthier people if we did the same.  I know I would.

Antepartum depression

October 9, 2011 at 6:36 am

Sometimes I feel like God gives me blogpost assignments. This is one of those. I actually had a few other blogpost ideas lined-up, including the follow-up to my “Mate selection” post about smell and bonding. Then, as I sat nursing my baby a few mornings ago, I got the distinct impression that I needed to write more about my experience with depression during my last pregnancy.  Perhaps this is God’s way of answering one of your prayers.  Who knows? But I’ve learned, over the years, to listen to those whispers that come into my mind, prompting me toward some action. I usually only find out why the prompting was important when I choose not to listen and then suffer the consequences. Listen to those voices, friends! I am choosing to take action on this prompting because maybe, just maybe, one of you desperately needs to know you’re not alone.  And I can’t bear the thought of not speaking up and letting you know that I care.

I mentioned in my recent long drawn-out birth account that I experienced a period of darkness and depression in the middle of my pregnancy. I described it this way:

 I’ve always claimed to be happier and more emotionally stable while pregnant than while not pregnant, and in my previous three pregnancies that had been true.  But not this time.  In September, I got on an emotional roller coaster like nothing I had ever seen.  And I wondered multiple times a day whether taking that flying leap off the cliff of surrender had been the stupidest thing we’d ever done.  If it had been right to welcome this baby on God’s timetable, then why on earth was I so ridiculously miserable?  I was bombarded with seemingly incessant waves of darkness and misery.  Some afternoons, when my husband arrived home from work, I fled immediately to my bedroom or closet, locked the door, and let myself weep and writhe and wail without restraint.  To make matters worse, I felt guilty and horrible that the beautiful, special baby growing inside of me could probably feel my dark thoughts and feelings, and I felt even more guilty and horrible that many moments my thoughts were resentful and rejecting toward that special child.

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.

God’s Medicine Chest: Carrots

August 30, 2011 at 8:06 pm

I actually wrote this post almost a year and a half ago when I had big plans to start a series of “God’s Medicine Chest” posts, but I never shared it on this blog. I love learning about the healing power of everyday foods. Especially when those foods are easy to grow and/or purchase organically. Here are some carrots we grew in our winter garden…

And here’s some cool stuff I’ve learned about carrots that might be new and helpful to you…

Baby shower basket essentials

August 26, 2011 at 7:18 pm

After ten years as a momma, I’ve learned a thing or two.  For instance, I’ve learned that a lot of the things on most soon-to-be parents’ baby registries (and in some of their carefully decorated baby nurseries) are non-essential.  There are really very few things most new parents/babies need, and some of the best essentials aren’t really available for baby shower presents (boobs, for instance).  It has been a while since I attended a baby shower for a first-time momma, but next time I’m invited, here’s what I wish I could afford to load into a pretty basket for her, though I’ll probably settle for just one or two items from the list…

1) Emergency Birth Kit

As I posted back in January, 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.  You’d never be sorry that you had birth supplies on hand.  I know I was glad I had a kit for the car when I drove to my midwives’ office in labor last time! I’d also include a print-out of the American College of Nurse-Midwives’ Giving Birth “In Place”: A Guide to Emergency Preparedness for Childbirth.

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…

Improving your epidural birth

November 18, 2010 at 8:46 am

Back in August, a close friend from college specifically requested that I do some posts for women like her who plan to have epidurals. So I wrote the first in a supposed series of “Improving your epidural birth” posts, encouraging pregnant women to “hire wisely” when choosing a care provider.

This morning I got feeling bad that I haven’t written any more posts for that series, and I suddenly realized that I have! In fact, the vast majority of the posts I’ve written over the last six months are on topics that would be of interest to all women, not just those who choose to forgo pharmaceutical pain relief in childbirth. And scanning three+ years of posts on my old blog brought up many more.

So, with all of that in mind, I give you some of my best tips for improving your epidural birth (besides carefully choosing a care provider), gleaned from my blog (and other helpful sites) over the years.

1) Prepare your body for pregnancy.

The more I learn, the more I realize that the groundwork for a really wonderful birth experience must be laid long before labor begins. When you nourish and take care of yourself, your body will be stronger and better able to perform its vital functions in pregnancy and childbirth. A strong, healthy body is much less likely to suffer complications that can have a detrimental and traumatic impact on your birth experience.

Many of the same things that will best prepare your body for a healthy pregnancy will also improve your chances of conceiving—eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables and low on processed foods, maintaining a healthy weight, optimizing your body’s levels of key nutrients (vitamin d, magnesium, essential fatty acids, and folate).  Making these dietary and lifestyle changes habits before conception will make them much easier to maintain throughout the coming pregnancy and beyond. 

Protecting your perineum (from the inside out)

November 9, 2010 at 9:04 am

IMG_36311Someone I love gave birth last week for the first time. We talked on the phone about her experience a few days later. While she felt really good about how everything went, she was hurting. An episiotomy+tearing, back pain from her epidural, plus the normal pain associated with initiating breastfeeding were wearing on her. Having experienced some severe tearing with my first birth, I gave her my solidarity. Recovering from perineal trauma was some of the most excruciating physical pain I’ve ever experienced! I’d take labor pains over that any day.

During our phone conversation, she mentioned that one of the nurses at the hospital had asked her if she ate meat (she does eat a little, mostly chicken). Seems like a strange question, but apparently the nurses at that hospital had noticed a trend among the women they attended in labor: in their experience, women who were vegetarians were more likely to tear. A statement like that calls for some follow-up research, no? I jumped on it and starting digging around in the scientific literature to see what dietary substances are associated with increased skin elasticity. I never really found a clear-cut answer to the vegetarian question, but I did find lots of other cool information.

I’ve posted before about how to prevent tears from the outside in, but now I know a whole slew of ways we may be able to protect our perineums from the inside out. These are some dietary additions you may want to make if you’re hoping to prevent tears (and improve your skin and health in general):

Growing, Glowing, and Going: Slacker

November 1, 2010 at 11:03 pm

So I was going to write a series of posts sharing my adventures exercising through this pregnancy.  Ha.  Oops. My only excuse is that I got too busy researching and posting about other topics like preventing postpartum hemorrhage, the perils of cervical scar tissue, the bed rest myth, and preventing preterm labor. So I’m not a total slacker-blogger, right? ;-)

The latest on my pregnant runner exploits is… well… I’m a slacker. I did really well going running 2-3 times a week (and listening to LOTS of podcasts) up until the last few weeks. I started noticing some discomfort in my lower abdomen and found myself walking a lot more than running on those last several runs. So I decided it was time to transition into the walking stage of my prenatal exercise regimen. We have taken several walks since then, but not nearly as many as I should be taking. And I’m feeling more and more of the effects of my lack of exercise… more aches and pains, general lack of energy, etc.

Preventing preterm labor

October 16, 2010 at 12:58 am

2014-10-17 11.25.53 am

Before I get into my research on preterm labor, I want to make it clear that preterm labor should be taken very seriously.  I am not a medical professional, so none of the contents of this blogpost should be considered medical advice. If you suddenly begin to experience possible preterm labor symptoms, the March of Dimes urges:

Call your health care provider or go to the hospital right away if you think you are having preterm labor. The signs of preterm labor include:

  • Contractions (your abdomen tightens like a fist) every 10 minutes or more often
  • Change in vaginal discharge (leaking fluid or bleeding from your vagina)
  • Pelvic pressure—the feeling that your baby is pushing down
  • Low, dull backache
  • Cramps that feel like your period
  • Abdominal cramps with or without diarrhea

(Source: Preterm Labor and Birth: A Serious Pregnancy Complication)


A couple of weeks ago, I wrote “The Bed Rest Myth” and promised that a post about preventing preterm labor was in the works.  Here is that promised post.  To re-cap, I got thinking about preterm labor a little over a month ago. A family member was put on bed rest (at 7 months pregnant) for some worrisome cramping and contracting she was experiencing. Her situation catapulted preterm labor onto my radar screen with big flashing red lights. Since then I’ve spent considerable time digging through the available research, hoping to find some clues that might be helpful to women facing preterm labor (and those hoping to prevent it).

Building a Baby Ready Body

October 4, 2010 at 4:15 pm

Just a quick post to let you know about a pre-pregnancy eCourse being offered by Michelle at Find Your Balance starting October 21. I’ve always believed that diet and lifestyle can have a great impact on fertility, so I’m thrilled that Michelle’s eCourse will be sharing helpful information on that very topic to help women prepare for pregnancy. I’ve really enjoyed Michelle’s blog over the last few months. She shares mouthwatering whole food recipes and a wealth of helpful information on nutrition and wellness. Click here to view more details

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