Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Nursing Mothers Should NEVER.....

From the BBC
Many new mothers have asked me what they need to avoid when they're nursing. Somehow, they seem to think that there is a list of "safe" foods somewhere that will tell them exactly what to eat and what not to eat. Fortunately, there is no such least not one that I've found. There's a good reason for that. Most nursing moms can eat just about anything as part of a well balanced, healthy diet.

Then I have moms telling me they have to stop breastfeeding because they are taking a certain medication. While there really are some medications that are unsafe for breastfeeding moms, many medications are safe. If in doubt about a specific medication you can check here or here for detailed information.

So what exactly DO nursing mothers need to avoid? Here is a list of things nursing mothers should NEVER do:

  • Use Tobacco - Neither you nor your baby need to be around cigarette smoke. In fact, regardless of whether he is breastfed or not, having a parent who smokes actually increases a baby's chances of falling victim to SIDS!
  • Use Illegal Drugs of Any Kind - This should go without saying, but no mother needs to put any kind of pharmaceutical into her body that has not been prescribed for a specific medical condition.
  • Get Stressed - The body reacts to stress by producing adrenaline. Unfortunately, adrenaline inhibits oxytocin, the hormone responsible for milk letdown.
  • Have a Prolonged Separation from Baby - While it is true that you can pump, it is best to avoid any kind of prolonged separation from your baby while nursing because your baby's proximity actually produces hormonal reactions within your body that keep you making plenty of milk.
  • Be around Negative influences - Anybody who is quick to tell you to just "Give that baby a bottle" is a negative influence. If you have people in your life like that, you need to steer clear of them as much as possible. If they are family members, you may need to gently, but firmly, tell them that you are not going to listen to their negativism, and if they want to be around you and the baby, they need to keep negative opinions to themselves. Perhaps this will help a negative relative!
Is there anything you would add to this list?

Monday, July 29, 2013

My Birthday Verse

My lunch-time view at the Marriott World Resort in Orlando!
I've just returned from an absolutely incredible weekend of training, encouragement and fellowship with some of the most positive people I've ever met. Many of you know that I work with an amazing program that is committed to providing value, saving people money, and allowing them a vehicle to achieve their dreams. One of the things that most impresses me at every convention I attend is the emphasis on faith by so many of the speakers, and the multiple expressions of thankfulness to God from person after person crossing the stage. The culture of this company from the President/CEO down is one of faith and thankfulness. I love that!

Yesterday people who had achieved the distinction of helping 4 other people make at least $4500 were recognized and each shared a nugget of wisdom. One lady from Virginia made mention in passing of her "birthday verse” as having been a guiding force in her journey. She explained that she was born on September 16, and God had used Exodus 9:16 to encourage and motivate her.

Me with my dear friend, Anita Eno who tried to show me
this business 7 years ago, but I wasn't smart enough to listen.
I was intrigued. My birthday is December 13, so I began searching the Bible for every book that had a verse 13 in the twelfth chapter. There were several good ones, but nothing really hit me between the eyes until I happened upon Romans 12:13, “Share with God’s people in need. Practice hospitality.” WOW!!!! I couldn't believe that I found a verse that so perfectly describes what I want to do and who I want to be! And I couldn't believe how aptly this verse unites the various parts of my life into one common thread that I fervently desire to see woven into every fiber of my being. 

I began to think of the various ways that I can fulfill that verse and came up with the following ways I can share.

Sharing Knowledge
The field in which I am most knowledgeable, of course, is breastfeeding. It delights me when I am able to help a mother who is in despair be able to nurse her baby successfully. Because I do want to keep A Nurturing Moment afloat, I charge a fee, but if a mom can’t afford to pay that fee, it doesn't matter. I still love helping her. My motivation isn't money; rather it is the joy of seeing a mother happily nursing her baby, especially when she was struggling to do so before we met.  
Each of us has a gift or ability that we've been given. When we use that gift to share with others who need it, it is the richest blessing imaginable. As I watch various mothers whom I've gotten to know over the years use their talents to help others, I am so honored to be a part of their lives.

Sharing Practical Necessities
Every breastfeeding mother needs nursing bras, but some are hard-pressed to be able to afford them. That’s why we began our Bosom Buddiesproject which provides gently used nursing bras to mothers on the WIC food assistance program. Any time a mom donates bras to the program, we offer her a discount on her in-store purchases that day.

One of our ANM moms, Sarah Bailey, is coordinating a wonderful program called Share the Love which provides cloth diapers to families who must choose between buying diapers and buying food. We are thrilled to be a drop-off location for this amazing program!

Sharing Hospitality
At A Nurturing Moment we love to have moms drop by to hang out, nurse their babies and visit
We love having moms hang out at A Nurturing Moment!

with each other. We offer comfy chairs, nursing pillows, nursing stools and bottles of cold water to our guests (if we ever fail to offer you something, don’t hesitate to ask for it!) In our final “dream” location, we will have a much larger nursing area/ classroom/ playroom/ internet café where you will be able to hang out, meet friends and even get healthy snacks! It does my heart good to hear moms enjoying each other’s company, building friendships, and encouraging each other as they nurse their babies together!

Sharing Hope
I often see new moms who are simply distraught and overwhelmed. Our Nurturing Moment family has a very special way of reaching out to and helping each other. You can’t begin to know how proud I am of each one of you who takes a few moments to share hope with another mom. Whether it’s through a Facebook comment, a phone call, or even just a quick (or not so quick) word of encouragement to a new friend you've just met in the store, you shine a ray a hope into the life of a mom who may be truly despondent. Thank you for creating a culture around A Nurturing Moment that shares hope.
Share with God's People in Need. Practice Hospitality
Sharing a Plan for the Future
When I have a mom sitting in front of me wiping away the tears as she talks about returning to work and leaving her baby, my heart just breaks. Sometimes I will mention in passing that I’m part of a company that can help them create a substantial income. But let’s face it, the truth is, I don’t ever want to offend or turn off a customer. I do pray each morning for God to show me who needs to hear about this opportunity, and there are certainly some of you I've shared with because I just knew I was supposed to.

However, after seeing so many people this weekend whose lives God has changed through this company, so many moms who are now able to be home with their children, I just want to make sure that you understand my heart.  I am willing to give 100% to help you be successful in building a business that will allow you to save a lot of money, but enable you to make more than you ever imagined possible if you’re willing to work. It is NOT a “get-rich-quick” scheme. Honestly, anything worth doing requires time, energy and commitment. Nevertheless, I promise you that there is no product to sell, no kind of quota and never any pressure….just me and my desire to “Share with God’s people in need.”

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Is Placenta Encapsulation for You?

Recently we've had several mothers come into A Nurturing Moment asking about placenta encapsulation. Local doula Brittany Berghammer makes this service available to local moms, so we asked Brittany to give us some insight into this procedure that is quickly growing in popularity!

ANM: What exactly is placenta encapsulation?

Brittany: Encapsulation is the process by which the placenta is turned into small pills much like a regular vitamin that you would take daily. Usually the placenta is cleaned, then flash steamed with fresh warming plants (ginger root for one), dehydrated, and finally ground into a fine powder for pills. 

 What is the history behind it and how did you get interested in doing this?

It dates way back into the practice of old Chinese medicine, which happens to be the method I use. I got interested in doing this after my children were born, and I was looking for natural ways to cure baby blues and PPD since I suffered pretty badly. The first placenta I did actually came about as a quick split-second decision by one of my first doula clients . Since then I have done dozens of them. It has become really popular in the past months!

What is the process you use?

 I use the Traditional Chinese Medicine Method (TCM). The thought process behind this is to warm the mother. You warm the placenta adding fresh ginger root and pepper while steaming the placenta before dehydration.  Tradition is for a new Chinese mother to be kept warm, eating warm foods, covered in blankets etc. for the first month after the baby is born, so preparing the placenta ussing this method goes along those lines. 

 Why would a mother choose to have her placenta encapsulated?

 If she is looking to have a natural way, made exactly for her with her very own hormones, to help with baby blues/PPD, help heal quickly after giving birth, help with milk supply, or even help her with energy levels this is the way to do it! I advise my moms if the pills make them too energetic not to take them near bed time! 
 You made your placenta with your own body, and your hormones are in it. So when you take it after birth in the pills, you are replacing what your body has just lost. It is made for you by you. It's your perfect 'medicine'! 

Are there any legal or medical risks?

In the state of Alabama there are absolutely no legal risks. There is no law on any book saying the mother cannot have her placenta, and we know laws are only made to tell you something you cannot do. You are entitled to have it if you so should choose; some women plant theirs with a new tree for the new baby or even a rose bush ! 
Medical risks are minimal;  there is always some chance, however small, of some kind of infection. It is not recommended that a mother with active HIV/AIDS encapsulate for that reason, but it has not really been studied. The only real problem I have ever read or heard about is the amount of energy - it's like drinking a lot of coffee. This is easily solved by cutting down the daily dose. Since it is made by your body you already have everything in the placenta in you to begin with. 

Will hospitals let you do this?

 Currently only Huntsville Hospital (and it's satellite hospitals) are allowing moms to keep the placenta. You used to be able to keep yours if you delivered at Crestwood, but very, very recently they have stopped allowing moms to have it. They have given me a number of reasons for this. The first reason they gave was that it is against state law so I looked it up: no such law. The second thing they said was that their waste management people told them they cannot release the placenta, so I called the waste management company. They told me they consider the placenta to be mom's property. Thirdly they said it was a thing the laywers told them to stop because of the risk of infection getting out, however small this risk is. I would love to have Crestwood open up to changing this policy,  even having moms sign a simple waiver of liability for the release of the placenta. All the moms I have spoken to would be willing to do this. Nevertheless, Crestwood is not hearing any of this, and I feel I've reached a brick wall with them. If any mom out there wants to write their Labor and Delivery unit letters telling them that it's your placenta,  and you want to have it, I would love you and give you free hugs!! 

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Thanks for NIP!!

An Iowa woman received quite a surprise on her thirty-third birthday. Jackie Johnson-Smith was having pizza with her family at Fongs in DesMoines when her baby got fussy. She began to nurse him with a cover, but noticed that waitress Bodi Kenney was glancing her way.

Like many mothers, Jackie has received critical stares for nursing in public (NIP). Thinking that perhaps the waitress was judging her, Jackie headed out to the car while her husband paid the bill.  In an interview with radio station KCCI she said, "I instantly felt panicked. Like, 'What is she thinking? Is she not wanting me to do it here?'"

So when her husband came out to the car with the receipt shown to the left in his hand, Jackie couldn't believe her eyes! Bodi had written, "I bought one of your pizzas. Please thank your wife for breastfeeding!!"

In her thank you note which she sent to Bodi's husband via Facebook (and subsequently  shared with Michele Zipp at The Stir,) Jackie expressed her feelings this way:
Jackie Johnson-Smith with her 3 children.

I didn't come from a breastfeeding family. I myself was formula fed as was common place through my family. My breastfeeding journey has been deeply personal with endless woes and triumphs. Your wife touched me in a place in my heart that is so tender, so raw and rooted and so very proud. Unbeknownst to her at the time it was also my 33rd birthday. I felt an amazing sense of belonging and optimism that day because of your wife's beautiful sentiment that is still carrying me days later.

Bringing it to Huntsville

This story really touched me. I have often tried to encourage moms I see nursing in public, but my fear has always been making a mom feel uncomfortable, so sometimes I just smile and say nothing. I decided after reading this that I need to do more! So I have created a special thank you note that I am keeping in my purse. It was inspired by the note Marley posted in her last blog. I have modified it a bit to make it my own, and added a $10 gift certificate to A Nurturing Moment as a special way to honor any mom I happen to see NIP.

So wherever I go, I am keeping my eyes open. I'm looking for that mom nursing discreetly in a sling. I'm watching for the mom sitting with a cover in the restaurant booth. I'm searching for moms Nursing In Public so I can hand them our special new note to say THANK YOU!

Maybe if we all look for moms who NIP and take time to say THANK YOU, we will make NIP a commonplace site right here in the Tennessee Valley!

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Childbirth and Infant Mortality Abroad: The Netherlands

By: Marley Phillips, ANM Intern

Okay folks, let’s talk about the Netherlands. The Netherlands has the 20th lowest infant mortality rate in the world. Not as impressive as the other countries featured, but I digress. This country has had worldwide recognition for its maternal healthcare, and I wanted to know why. The Netherlands is home to possible the most risqué city in the world, Amsterdam. The country as a whole is known for its sexual promiscuity and frequent visits to the “coffee shop”. With this knowledge, I did not expect the Netherlands to be a very family-friendly place. However, the government strives to take care of expectant mothers and ensure parents and babies are happy and healthy.

The Netherlands requires all citizens to buy approved private insurance plans. Insurance must cover anyone who asks for insurance. Citizens pay flat-rate premiums for all ages and incomes. If people use less than a preset amount of care in a given year, they get a refund. All insurances cover birth, but all insurances may not cover a hospital birth. Insurance also covers the cost of a kraamzorg service, but more about that later.

Holland is known for having the highest rates of homebirth in Europe for decades. We’ve always heard the amazing fairytales of a magical place where women get to choose where they birth. And midwives; oh, midwives for miles and miles! Despite the stories, the Netherlands’ home birth rates have been steadily declining for quite some time, and are now at an all time low of 24%.  Now, 24% may not seem very low to you or I here in America where the home birth rate is less than one percent and absolutely, completely taboo. But, for Holland, this is a staggering drop in numbers. 25 years ago, over 2/3 of women gave birth at home and now less than 1/3 are opting for the same birth experience. So why are so many women running for the hospital these days? According to this news story, some doctors are saying women now want a variety or pain relief and speedy deliveries. Seems like Holland is catching up to the rest of the world’s need for luxury and promptness.

After confirming the pregnancy with a general doctor, doctors can refer a midwife or women can choose their own midwife. The first appointment with a midwife won’t be until around week 12, where the midwife obtains medical history and does screening to assess if a woman would qualify for home birth, or if she should be referred to an obstetrician. The midwife will continue to monitor a patient’s condition to ensure she is the perfect candidate for home birth.

In the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, women should also arrange for a kraamzorg service. What’s a kraamzorg service, you ask? A kraamzorg is a wonderful service offered to new families that provides in-home postnatal care. Along with showing the new parents how to bathe and dress and basic breastfeeding support, the kraamzorg will also do some light cooking and cleaning around the house. The kraamzorg stays for about a week for 4-8 hours per day, depending on the need. Since this is such an amazing service, women are encouraged to find a kraamzorg service by the12th week of pregnancy because it could be difficult to find an availability.

If a woman opts for homebirth, there’s not much procedure. Labor starts, midwife comes, out pops baby. The only thing is that each bed will require a metal riser to meet safety regulations for delivering a baby. Obviously, there is no type of pain medication when giving birth at home, so if a woman wants that she needs to go to a hospital. Although, I should mention only about 10% of women actually get the pain medication in Holland, and doctors are not too willing to administer it. When pain relief is given, it is usually in the form of an opiate-based liquid on a push-button basis. A midwife will deliver the baby, unless there is some type of abnormality, and most women are released within 24 hours of delivery.

Another option for expectant mothers in the Netherlands is a maternity hotel, or kraamzorghotels. These hotels offer a home birth for women whose home can’t accommodate a birth, or who simply don’t want to stay home. In these hotels, the woman and her husband (or other guest) can stay in luxury and she delivers her baby, and will have a kraamzorg immediately available to help when the baby arrives. Prices weren’t available, but some insurance will cover this. There are also maternity clinics for these women who can’t have or don’t want a home birth. Women may choose this option as a way to be close to hospital amenities in case of emergency, but not actually have to birth in the hospital.

Breastfeeding is heavily encouraged in the Netherlands, although the numbers may not necessarily reflect that. 80% of women initially begin breastfeeding and by 6 months that rate has dropped to 20%. Many women attribute this to feeling unwelcome while feeding in public, as well as returning to work, even though the Dutch have great legislation for breastfeeding moms. The Netherlands has also started putting in breastfeeding cafes around the country. These cafes serve as a place for mothers to meet up and nurse, share stories, give advice, etc. The country is also working on setting up public destinations specifically for nursing moms, so that they may not feel shunned or be asked to leave any establishment while feeding, which has been a hot button issue in recent years.

So, here’s the Netherlands: nothing overly spectacular or groundbreaking happening here. Midwives handle nearly all the deliveries, whether at home or in the hospital, and there is a harmonious system between midwife and obstetrician that is clearly working for this country. Holland maintains a fairly hands-off approach to pregnancy and childbirth, and I am really hoping this country doesn’t follow in the footsteps of the rest of the industrialized world and begin over-medicalizing the natural art of childbirth. Yet, based on these new statistics, the  Netherlands reputation as home birth capital of the world may be quickly fading.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

The Baltic Amber Craze

Harvest is a popular medium light raw Baltic Amber.
One of the fastest-selling items we carry is Baltic Amber. Many moms swear by these natural teething necklaces. Recently one of our moms had her baby at the pediatrician - a doctor who is very conservative about prescribing medications and usually just recommends frozen washcloths and other natural remedies for teething. The office staff was intrigued by the baby's amber necklace and asked the mom a lot of questions about it. So I want to try to answer the questions that are most frequently asked about this amazing resin.

Just what IS Baltic Amber?
Polished Butter and Honey offers two tones of
Baltic amber beauty.

Let's begin by explaining what it is NOT:  it is NOT a stone or mineral. Rather, it is a fossilized tree resin from pine trees which once grew in Northern Europe. As the climate warmed, the trees began to exude large quantities of this resin which then fossilized and oxidized.  It contains 79 % carbon and 10.5% each of hydrogen and oxygen.

How Does it Help Teething Babies?

Diversity is a raw Baltic Amber containing a variety of colors.
That is a great question!  As Baltic amber comes in contact with the warmth of the skin, it releases trace amounts of succinic acid, a substance that has been recognized for centuries as a natural, traditional remedy for many ailments. One of the functions of the oils relesed by baltic amber is analgesia. It takes the edge off of pain. In fact, many parents have found that within an hour of putting the Baltic amber necklace on their child, fussiness has subsided. 

The neckace is not intended for the baby to chew. Rather, it should lie right at baby's collar bone where baby can't get it into his mouth. There are examples of 17th century amber teethers, but experts today do not recommend that it be used for chewing.

How Safe Is It?

This two-tone mix of light and dark raw amber is
especially popular for little boys.
Of course, one of the primary concerns of any parent is safety. The Baltic amber we sell comes from Lithuania, the premier source in the world for genuine Baltic amber. Each piece is individually knotted so that if the necklace were to come apart, baby wouldn't be able to swallow the beads. The plastic clasp is designed to break apart in the unlikely case of a strangulation situation. However, we do not recommend that baby sleep by himself in a crib with a baltic amber necklace on. Many parents will wrap the necklace around baby's ankle at night so that he is still receiving the comforting effects.

Lemonade is a very light raw amber that is extremely
high in succinic acid. 

How Should I Take Care of It?

Amber doesn't wear out or need to be recharged. However, it does need to be cared for properly. It should be cleaned with lukewarm water and a soft cloth. You never want to use a detergent or cleanser on your amber. It needs to be removed when you bathe your baby because you don't want to get soap or lotion on it. They will leave a residue on your amber that will interfere with its ability to release its healing oils. Any time you have baby in a pool or any other chlorinated water, be sure to take it off.

Please take a minute to tell us about your experience with Baltic Amber.