Tag Archives: breastfeeding

7 Natural Cold Remedies For The Whole Family.

Colorful Baby Toy SetBeing pregnant or breastfeeding continuously, for over two years, I have had to defeat more than a couple of seasonal sniffles the natural way.  Having a cold isn’t the end of the world, but it’s unpleasant, sleeping, breathing, coughing and spluttering.

I wouldn’t take a cold or flu remedy while breastfeeding, and I definitely wouldn’t choose to give the little guy anything either.

So when I saw the little guy with a runny nose, and a total aversion to having it wiped with a Kleenex,  I had to employ underhand tactics to help him out!

Here are a few tips, a round up of some natural remedies for the whole family as an alternative to those over the counter remedies which contain a cocktail of expectorants (to bring up phlegm), decongestants (to unblock your nose) and pain relief…eek!.

Fluids

Plenty of water.  Occasionally add some honey, manuka is my favourite, to soothe a sore throat.  Don’t add lemon, it is too harsh on a sore throat, and no brandy for the little ones!!  Honey is Ok after 12 months old, it has soothing and antibacterial properties for a sore and tickly throat,

Chicken soup

It’s not just an old wives tale.  The American Journal of Therapeutics showed that a compound found in chicken soup – carnosine – can help the body’s immune system to fight the early stages of flu.  Chicken soup contains a whole host of other goodies, organosulfides found in onions and garlic, and carotenoids found in carrots are just a few other nutrients that are great for boosting the immune system.

Steam

Steam is the most natural way to ease congestion, you could buy a humidifier, but there are many other ways to get that steam circulating.  A pan of water simmering on the stove (stay in attendance with this one!), a wet flannel or face cloth on a warm radiator, running a hot shower or bath and relaxing in the steamy environment.

Rest

Slow down and give you body the chance to use its strength on recovery, keep warm and get plenty of rest or sleep to let your immune system put up a good fight.

Natural oils

Try a few drops of a menthol oil, eucalyptus and clove oil is a good mix.   We use Olbas for children, a few drops on a damp cloth in the bedroom at nigh, it contais a mix of cajuput oil, clove oil, eucalyptus oil, juniper Oil, levomenthol, methyl salicylate  and mint oil at a concentration suitable from 3 months old.

Raise your head at night

For adults, an extra pillow under your head, for kids, a couple of books under the legs of the cot or bed to raise the head a little higher will help the nose clear effectively instead of blocking the nasal passages.

Remove irritants

A last resort, remove any perfumes, air fresheners, scented candles or anything that might be adding to nasal irritation.

Your remedies…

So theses are some of the things we practise at home. I have read about saline nasal sprays or irrigation for adults and kids, but its not my thing!!  I also can’t bring myself to use one of those nasal aspirators on the little guy, I can’t imagine the little guy cooperating with either!!

What are your favourite home remedies to help with colds and runny noses that work for the whole family..please comment and let me know?

Having A Moment Of Milk Doubt? How Often To Nurse Past 1 Year Old.

20131114-103126.jpg

Every so often I have a breast milk fuelled wobble.

I start thinking about pouring the little guy a couple of cups of milk a day. I worry that his calcium intake is not sufficient for his bone development. Should I be supplementing with vitamin drops, am I really doing the best thing letting him feed several times daily still.

At times like this, I need to find reassurance that I am still doing the right thing for my guy, that I am not depriving him of any vital nourishment, and that in fact he is getting the fullest of fattiest milk to develop his brain and the most bioavailable source of vitamins and minerals possible.

There isn’t an enormous amount of information out there about extended breastfeeding, even less of it is properly researched…so it took some time to find rthe reassurance I was seeking.

You can read some of my previous research here, I looked into exactly why breast milk is so good past one year…

But how much should a toddler be drinking?

There is no official minimum intake guideline for milk. Form what I managed to round up from various sources, it seems like between 1-3 years of age, 15-18 oz of cows milk is a good amount (400-500ml). But how does that translate to the invisible measures of breast milk.

According to KellyMom, as long as your toddler is nursing at least 3-4 times a day then there is no need add cups of cows milk.

The reasoning…milk-splash.jpg

Cows milk is just a convenience, a convenient source of calcium, vitamin D and fat.

Check out my detailed research here to see exactly why breast milk is more than adequate, but just quickly, it is super full fat, with high levels of vitamins and minerals designed specifically to be easily absorbed by the human child.

So if your child is nursing regularly still, then go with it, combined with the varied diet that he will be getting, then all should be good in the brain and bone!!

If you want the figures in detail, the NHS website recommends the following as a guideline daily intake, but it can be averaged out over a week:

Ages 1 to 3 years: 700 milligrams (mg) per day
Ages 4 to 8 years: 1,000 mg per day

Here are some serving recommendations:

  • 1/4 cup raw tofu prepared with calcium sulphate: 217 mg (The calcium content of tofu varies, depending on how it’s processed. Check the label.)
  • 1/2 cup plain yoghurt: 207 mg
  • 1 tablespoon blackstrap molasses: 172 mg
  • 1/2 cup fruit yoghurt: 122 to 192 mg
  • 1/2 cup calcium-fortified orange juice: 133 to 250 mg
  • 1/4 cup ricotta cheese: 167 mg
  • 1/2 cup milk: 150 mg
  • 1/2 cup chocolate milk: 144 mg
  • 1/2 ounce Swiss cheese: 112 mg
  • 1/2 cup vanilla frozen yoghurt, soft-serve: 102 mg
  • 1/2 ounce cheddar cheese: 102 mg
  • 1 slice whole grain bread: 24 mg
  • 1/2 ounce mozzarella cheese: 103 mg
  • 1/4 cup collard greens: 66 mg
  • 1/4 cup homemade pudding (from mix or scratch): 76 mg
  • 1 tablespoon tahini (sesame seed butter): 64 mg
  • 1/4 cup turnip greens: 50 mg
  • 1/4 cup cooked spinach: 60 mg
  • 1/2 cup calcium-fortified cereal (ready to eat): 51 mg
  • 1/2 cup calcium-fortified soy beverage: 40 to 250 mg

 

An Apple A Day, Growth Vs Nutrition.

20131114-103413.jpgWas the first year of your baby’s life blighted by that WHO growth chart. Each weigh in, exciting, but tinged with just a little fear…failure to thrive, dropping off the curve, supplementing suggestions, early weaning…

Then the solids start, and the mission to bulk up continues.

Food becomes such a focus, but is it for the right reasons?

There are many reasons why a healthy, varied and fun diet is so important in those first months and years…but only at the bottom of my list of reasons will you find the growth chart.

Here are a few of the reasons why I try to focus on variety and enjoyment of food, rather than pure old weight gain.

Variety is the spice of life…

It is believed that the taste for flavour begins in the womb, literally, by flavouring the amniotic fluid! What you eat in pregnancy supposedly going on to affect you baby’s tastes as the grow up. The idea continues with breast milk, not only a constantly evolving source of nutrition but of changing flavour too. It is another way of potentially influencing tiny taste buds and preparing them for a variety of foods.

So the idea continues from birth to 12 months. This is a time when baby is most receptive to new tastes and textures, the theory being that exposing them to as many flavours and foods as possible in these early months means that they will continue with all of these recognisable foods and hopefully be as adventurous going forward in life.

Iron deficiency

Quite a major reason for a varied diet, particularly in a breast fed child, is the lack of iron in breast milk. Around six months when the digestive system is fully formed (please read my article on the virgin gut) and baby’s reserves of iron are all but gone, it is important to introduce some good sources of iron like beans, peas, lentils, broccoli, green leafy vegetables and dried fruit. Knowing you need to incorporate such specific foods can make you quite creative, my guy loved this spinach and lentil dahl for an iron boost and a more exotic alternative to broccoli!!

Strong skeleton, strong mind…

The adult skeleton normally contains 206 bones.  Babies on the other hand have a different mix of over 300 different bones and cartilage parts. One you probably know about, the cranium, start off as three separate plates which shift and move to allow for passage of the baby’s head through the birth canal.  As the baby grows, these plates fuse into one cranium, that soft fontanelle disappears.

All bones start off as cartilage, but many are still cartilage at the time of birth. Cartilage turns into bone over time through a process called ossification.

Calcium is obviously the big factor in bone development.  A diet rich in calcium is vital for your child.  But bones are a made up of more than just calcium…collagen water, phosphorus, magnesium, and other minerals are all found in bone…so they are all as important as calcium in making bone!

Vitamin C from citrus fruits, tomatoes, peppers, and other fruits and vegetables is essential for making collagen, the connective tissue that minerals cling to when bone is formed.

Vitamin K is thought to stimulate bone formation. It is found mainly in dark leafy greens like kale and spinach, but is also available in beans, soy, and some fruits and vegetables.

Potassium decreases the loss of calcium from the body and increases the rate of bone building. Oranges, bananas, potatoes, and many other fruits, vegetables, and beans are all rich sources of potassium.

Magnesium, like calcium, is an important bone mineral. Studies have shown higher magnesium intakes to be associated with stronger bones. “Beans and greens”—legumes and green leafy vegetables—are excellent sources of magnesium.

Fruits and vegetables are also important for what they don’t do. Some foods—especially cheeses, meats, fish, and some grains—make the blood more acidic when digested and metabolized. These foods add to the body’s “acid load.” When this happens, bone minerals, especially calcium, are often pulled from the bones to neutralize these acids.  Diets high in fruits and vegetables actually tip the acid-base scales in the opposite direction and make it easier for bones to hold onto their calcium. (Source: PCRM)

So variety really is more important than quantity?

When you understand the importance of developing good lifelong eating habits and growing bones and growing every other element of a child’s body, it becomes clear that pure weight gain is just a by-product of all of this.

Were you a slave to the growth chart, were you terrified of dropping down a percentile??  Do you think less importance should be placed on that growth chart, or do you think it is an important indication of a healthy child.  Please comment to let me know your thoughts.

Sources

http://pcrm.org/health/health-topics/parents-guide-to-building-better-bones

http://www.niams.nih.gov/Health_info/Bone/Bone_Health/Juvenile/default.asp

Nursing At Sixteen Months, Feeling The Pressure!

messy play

Where are my boobs??

Entering into the world of extended breastfeeding wasn’t as terrifying as you might imagine.

The little guy gradually started nursing less often, it became more about comfort and less about quantity. Nursing seemed confined to home, perhaps it was boredom feeding, more often than not it was me using my milk to get him to settle for sleep. We were rarely feeding on the run or while out and about because the world is so much more exciting to look at than the same old boobs!

At sixteen months old, breastfeeding a fully fledged toddler with twelve teeth and a few words in his vocabulary seems perfectly normal to both of us. To close friends and family, it isn’t that strange either, maybe just a little bit, but not strange enough for them to question me about my choice.

And then totally out of the blue, in the middle of a busy playgroup, he came running over to me and began tugging at my shirt. Of course without thinking, we started feeding perched on a windowsill. I looked out across the room to watch the other kids splattering shaving creme and glitter up the walls and all of a sudden…there they were

Two women, crossed arms, staring at me feeding my toddler!

Probably for the first time in my breastfeeding experience, I felt slightly awkward!

It occurred to me that they may find the whole scene slightly awkward…embarrassing…odd?!?

Anyway, not one to be deterred, I gave myself a quick reality check, flashed them a big smile and a giggle and carried on.

A recently published report came to mind, one stating that the confidence of a mother may affect breastfeeding success. The Journal of Advanced Nursing published a report that found that mothers who are more extroverted and less anxious are more likely to breastfeed and to continue to breastfeed than mothers who are introverted or anxious. (Source: Wiley)

So do you feel that a mums personality may go some way towards her breastfeeding success and longevity?

I certainly felt a fleeting pang of embarrassment, but another mum may have been totally mortified and quit breastfeeding then and there.

Generally, I feel inclined to disagree with the findings of the report, that less confident personality traits mean breastfeeding failure is imminent. Myself, the shyest, most private kind of mother, I became totally liberated by the experience of breastfeeding, and make a point of publicly feeding with the hope of inspiring another shy mum to do the same for her child.

I do agree that emotional stability is a more likely contributing factor, health professionals need to tune into all of these underlying personality traits in order to offer the best support and advice.

Let me know about your experience, are you shy, did it affect your confidence to breastfeed, did you lose all inhibitions to do what you felt had to be done?  I also did some research into the benefits of breast milk past one year which you can read here.

Making My Grand Return, Toddler In Tow.

20131026-210801.jpg

It has been two months since my last post. A lot has happened. Such a short space of time in which so much has changed, and life marches on leaving you struggling in the ripples it leaves behind.

Just a couple of months ago, life was a different entity all together. A trauma involving a good friend became my priority, she needed me, so I had to be there with my full focus. Then the more trivial bits…some major home improvements, a case of foot and mouth, a very poorly little guy, and all of a sudden I realised just how much time had passed.

So after my disappearance, I am easing back into the all consuming world of blogging with a nice simple post. If I don’t do this one, I have a feeling that three months, then six months then a year may pass with my blog gathering dust.

My sixteen month old little guy is a fully fledged toddler, he has dropped a nap, he sleeps slightly better at night (one feed instead of four!) and he gets VeRy bored indoors, no longer content to play with a few toys on the lounge floor!

Day to day at the moment involves constantly entertaining, stimulating and interacting with a very inquisitive and hands on little guy with the attention span of a goldfish. Playgroups, messy play, animals, art exhibitions, swimming, anything to keep him occupied.

…but it has been really rewarding.

Seeing him understand how to handle a paintbrush and splodge paint around, hold a stick of chalk and make shapes on the chalk board, sit at his little table and tap on his keyboard making phone calls on a remote control, playing with the contents of his mini kitchen.

My favourite time is letting him play while exploring textures, that’s why I love painting, play dough, salt dough, sand and water. Over the next few posts I will post up a few really simple recipes for totally edible and homemade art ideas.

I hope you have fun getting mucky…

P.S. We are still breastfeeding!!

So, You Want An Epidural?

epi

It is the Rolls Royce of pain relief for a grueling labour.  The most up to date statistics (here) currently state that, overall in the USA, 61% of women giving birth to a singleton make use of the wondrous epidural.

In the UK, figures (here) reveal that percentage of women to be 33%.

Like many other women, I was all for an epidural at the start of my pregnancy, probably even before I was pregnant when I think about it!  I planned to just show up at hospital and make it my first request!  The more I read about them though, the more nervous I got that i might need one, aside from the needle in the spine, there were some surprising facts floating around that started to change my opinion of what I considered a routine and safe procedure.

So I thought I would take a closer look at some of the facts that I found particularly interesting, and share them with you…

What is an epidural?

Starting with the basics, lets straighten out the types available:

Spinal block is an instant and total numbing that lasts for a short period of maybe a couple of hours.  Medicine is injected into the fluid of the spinal cord, just the once, no catheter is left in place.  Because of its instant and total numbing effects it is good just before a c-section.

Epidural takes 10-20 minutes to have an effect, the anesthetic is injected just outside of the fluid of the spine.  A catheter is taped in place and medication can be administered over a long period of time to provide numbness to the lower half of the body.

Walking epidural is a low dose or combination form of epidural.  The lower dose of anaesthetic is combined with a painkilling opiate like pethidine or morphine, this usually allows the woman to move around with support but don’t expect to be pacing the corridors as you will likely be attached to a drip and baby monitor which can make moving around difficult.

CSE is a combined spinal-epidural.  A one-off dose of painkilling opiate, with or without anaesthetic, is injected into the spinal space, very close to the end of the spinal cord.  Pain relief lasts for around 2 hours, and then if more pain relief is needed, it can be given as an epidural.  The spinal administration is combined with the placement of the epidural catheter into one procedure.

How does an epidural work?

The spinal cord runs through a space in the bones of the spine.  Nerves running from the spine send messages to different parts of the body enabling them to function.  The nerves from the lover section of the the spinal cord control the lower sections of the body.

By injecting anesthetic into the epidural space of the lower back, as seen in the diagram above, the nerves controlling the lower body will be blocked, and feeling will be lost in the legs and the torso from the belly button down.

Can this medication reach baby?

This is the big question that we all want an answer to.  Although injected around the spinal cord, the drugs used will still enter your blood stream.  It is claimed that the amount of medication that does enter the blood stream is very low with an epidural and even lower with a spinal, but it will still cross over to the baby via the placenta.  I am guessing that the longer the epidural is being administered the more medication ends up reaching the baby.

It also takes a couple of hours for feeling to return to your legs after having an epidural, while the medication starts to wear off.  The Royal College Of Anesthesiologists states (here) that while the effects are typically not visible within hours of receiving a general anesthetic, traces can still be found in the body and breast milk for a few days.   That’s not something I fancy floating around in my newborn!

Breast feeding after epidural.

close up of newborn baby near breast

Studies have shown (here) epidurals to have a negative effect on breast-feeding.

That’s a sweeping statement sure to make many mothers angry…after all, we all know that breast feeding is temperamental even in the most ideal of situations.

But one really fascinating study worth looking at (here) showed a deficiency in oxytocin at delivery with epidural analgesia.

This I find interesting…oxytocin is the hormone that stimulates let down and brings milk or colostrum with it.  Low oxytocin…problems breast feeding…makes sense to me!  I have to admit I thought it was maybe down to the anesthetic effect of the drugs on the baby which made it harder for them to latch on, so I really like this scientific stand point, much more compelling.

So what about mum?

Ok, so you managed to handle the big needle in the spine, but what are some of the effects on mum apart from the feeling of total relief from contractions that just started to get the better of you…

Allergic reaction to the anesthesia used
Bleeding around the spinal column (hematoma)
Difficulty urinating
Drop in blood pressure
Infection in your spine (meningitis or abscess)
Nerve damage
Seizures (this is rare)
Severe headache

You can Google the risks of an epidural easily like I have just done for the list above.  No doubt you have done it at some point, so I won’t go into too much detail, as the list is almost endless!

Two particular points that were of interest that I want to look at have a knock on effect on baby are:

  • Low blood pressure (hypotension)
  • Elevated maternal temperature

Low blood pressure has a direct effect on how much blood is pumped into the placenta.  This in turn affects how much oxygen reaches the baby which is obviously not ideal.  To remedy the problem it is likely that you will get hooked up to IV fluids which may restrict how freely you can move into different positions for labour (another reason why your walking epidural might end up less mobile).

Elevated maternal temperature has the potential to spark a whole cascade of meddling, not least because a temperature can be a sign of infection but also because it may lead to a faster heart rate in the baby.  Fast heart rate can be a sign of a baby in distress and may lead to a c-section.  Baby may need tests to rule out infection and may require treatment with antibiotics after the birth, interfering with those precious first moments of skin to skin contact, breast feeding and bonding.  That right there is a good enough reason for me to try and stay away from the epidural!

Does an epidural really slow down labour and lead to a higher chance of c-section?

This isn’t just something they say to scare you away from an epidural, it’s not just hear say from the natural childbirth advocates, there is a simple reason why this is the case.

Plain and simply put, epidural anesthesia is indiscriminate, it freezes up the pelvic floor muscle which are crucial to guiding and delivering a baby safely and steadily.  This once active muscle that was guiding baby out so nicely, becomes a little bit too relaxed giving baby the opportunity to turn around in the birth canal.  This is where forceps may be needed to reposition baby, episiotomy cuts may be needed to allow forceps access, or c-section may be required if labour is too obstructed to deliver vaginally.

Will an epidural be so high on your birth plan now?

The epidural will always have a place on the delivery ward, it is essential at times, every labour is so different and who knows how yours will turn out.  What I think is important is to really study for a birth, prepare with as many natural aids as possible, yoga, meditation, hypno birthing, aromatherapy, TENS, massage…the more prepared you are in the earlier stages, the further you may get into your labour naturally, that might be all the incentive you need to go that final leg alone!!

How did you handle the pain of childbirth?  How did you find the epidural if you went down that route?  Would you make the same choices for the next time?  Let me know, leave a message below…

Top Mommy Blogs - Mom Blog Directory

One Lovely Blog Award!

one-lovely-blog

This was a lovely surprise!   My first blog award, from someone whose own blog is so inspiring and always keeps me coming back for more, Atlantamomofthree, a big thank you!  Have a look at her blog, it is full of informative articles, recipes, breastfeeding and childbirth thoughts and lots of laughs.

She also bestowed upon me the brilliant Yoda award which made me laugh so much, I am honored!!  THANK YOU!!  Please check out her blog Atlantamomofthree.

Image courtesy of http://www.atlantamomofthree.com
“You are a wise soul, with your understanding and care coming across in all your posts. Thank you for sharing your wisdom with us, oh green one.”

I tried to look back into the history of the award, but like many other people, I failed to find out much about it’s origin.  The trail doesn’t go back much further than 2009 when the creator may have sent the original idea into cyberspace.  Several incarnations of the image exist, probably reinvented by people wanting a more aesthetically suitable image, but other than that I can find no concrete evidence about the origin of this award!

None the less, the award is a great way to show appreciation for great writing, research and photography.  Based on how proud I felt when I received the nomination, it is a really inspiring process to join in with!  So in accordance with the rules here I go…

Seven random facts about me…

  1. I wanted to be a milkman lady when I was young.
  2. I am trained to make false eyes.
  3. I hate hate hate exercise.
  4. The sun makes me very nervous.
  5. My shyness manifests as verbal diarrhea.
  6. I sleep on my face so spiders can’t crawl in during the night.
  7. I rarely see anything to completion, too fickle!

My nominations are…

  1. Goodnight Mush  Fabulous resource for baby wearing and passionate about breast feeding.  Gorgeous photographs and a lovely personal peek at life with two children.
  2. Mummy Flying Solo  Makes me laugh without fail.  Inspiration on all things parenting and life, so grounding.
  3. The Lady Likes Food  I just love her heart healthy but decadent desserts, but there is a whole host of other fresh, and interesting recipe ideas here.
  4. Rambam Institute  This is a Jewish medicine blog, but there are always fascinating insights into health issues covering a range of areas, I like the pot luck lessons I learn here!
  5. Analytical Armadillo  Breastfeeding, information, research, my heaven!

The rules for accepting the award are as follows…

  1. Thank the blogger who nominated you and link back to their blog.
  2. Post the award image in your acceptance post.
  3. List seven random facts about yourself.
  4. Nominate others for the award and notify them on their blog.