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The Ancient Cleanse

I have to start this by stating as I have many times before, that this is not my recipe.  I cannot for the life of me find the man that I got it from but it is pure magic when trying to cleanse the body.

I would also like to note that before doing this cleanse be aware that their are side effects to cleansing that are sometimes not very pleasant…headaches, nausea, cramping, blurry vision….what do you expect, you have been toxic for a while.  That is why you need to jpay attention to your body and adjust your cleanse if you are moving too quickly.

How do you know you are moving too quickly?  You experience any symptoms that make you feel uncomfortable…if you do then you need to slow down by simply eating some food.   Make sure it is still healthy alkaline foods but it will help the process slow down.  Also make sure that you drink lots and lots of water.  This will help with the symptoms as well since it is flushing those nasty toxins out.

Shilajit will also help since it will give you the minerals that you need to remove the toxins as well.  Read more about Shilajit Here.

ANCIENT CLEANSE INSTRUCTIONS: The cleanse is really simple, All you have to do is blend three servings of juice in the morning and drink it throughout the day.  It will keep you full and for those sugar and protein cravings, you get to snack on apples and almonds throughout the day as well.  I found that this greatly helps with the cravings and need to just simply chew something.  You will also drink water with lemon throughout the day to help flush toxins and keep you well hydrated.

Supplies you will need to have on hand

  • Blender
  • Distilled Water
  • 3 Mason Jars (16 oz) or equivalent
  • Raw Honey
  • Organic Raw Cacao Powder

 These items will be your snacks throughout cleanse

  • Raw Almonds
  • Cashews
  • Lemons with Distilled Water
  • Organic Apples

These items will need to be fresh so will require stopping by a store a few items throughout 10 day cleanse

  • 2 bunch of Organic Kale
  • 2 bunch of Organic Spinach
  • 3 bunch of Organic Cilantro
  • 3 bunch of Organic Parsley
  • 2 bunch of Organic Mint
  1. Combine one handful of each-kale, spinach, cilantro into blender
  2. Add one half a handful of each-parsley & mint into blender
  3. Add 1tbs raw honey and 1tbs cacao to blender
  4. Add distilled water and blend
  5. Pour into mason jars and consume throughout the day.

Herbs for the Maiden, Mother & Matriarch

By this point you are aware of how important hormone balance is in our bodies, if you are not, check out these blogs before continuing.

  1. What are “Female” Hormones?
  2. How to Know When Your Hormones are Outta Whack

Now that we have a basic idea of what hormones are and how they get out of balance, let’s look at how to get them back in order.  You know me, I’m all about the solution and not dwelling on the problem.

As you probably know there are three phases of a female’s life cycle:  The Maiden, The Mother and The Matriarch (or Crone, but I hate that term so I use Matriarch).  The first step to balancing hormones is by honoring the cycle that you are in.  Here is a brief description of these cycles:

  • The Maiden represents enchantment, inception, expansion, the promise of new beginnings, birth, youth and youthful enthusiasm, represented by the waxing moon;
  • The Mother represents ripeness, fertility, sexuality, fulfillment, stability, power and life represented by the full moon;
  • The Matriarch represents wisdom, repose, death, and endings represented by the waning moon.

There are many herbal remedies that nourish and support the female reproductive system in all the cycles of life: Maiden, Mother, and Matriarch. Since the beginning of time women have always reached instinctively for natural remedies to support their overall health and hormone balance.  It is only within the past few hundred years that we have gotten away from our natural roots and began to rely on modern “medicine”.  I use that term lightly because I don’t even see it as medicine, but rather a system that focuses on band aiding the symptoms and not treating the whole person.  This leads to a myriad of other symptoms, check out a commercial for prescriptions, have you seen even 1 without side effects?  I haven’t and generally the side effect symptoms are worse than the initial symptoms.  That being said, click here to read The Full Medical Disclaimer.

I do believe highly in Nature’s Medicine.  Our bodies are made of the same elements as nature and it is through Nature’s Medicine that we will heal ourselves.  There are many wonderful herbs, foods and elements that can help us maintain homeostasis and specifically hormone balance in each life cycle phase.  This blog will focus mainly on herbs to help balance the female hormones.  I will first go over which are good for females of all ages, then I will break down the ones that are best for the Maiden, Mother and Matriarch.

All Life Cycle Phases:

Alfalfa sprouts are a staple of salads and contain nutrients, but the leaves hold the best healing potential and contain phytoestrogens that are beneficial in menopausal and breast feeding women.  Sprouts in general are a great way to maintain balance without putting undue stress on your digestive system.

Note: It is always best to purchase Organic Alfalfa since it is one of the more highly GMO crops.

Asparagus racemosus known in India as Shatavari, has been a treatment for infertility and lack of libido in women for thousands of years, and is regarded as one of the most important herbal tonics for women.  In India, it is often boiled with milk and consumed.

Note:  They cherish their cows in India, we don’t here.  I don’t recommend use of milk unless it is raw and even then, in limited amounts.

Clary sage oil has a special affinity with the female system in general and is recommended for women who are experiencing hot flashes, pain and tension associated with menopause, menstrual problems and PMS.  It is also relaxing, soothing and tends to be earthy and grounding.

Note: Do not use during early pregnancy as it can cause miscarriage.

Red Raspberry Leaf is rich in iron, potassium, magnesium and B, C & E vitamins which are helpful for immune properties & energy.  It also provides ample blood flow to the pelvic area.  (I will get more into this herb in the Mother Phase however it is great for all cycles.)

CLICK HERE TO ORDER RED RASPBERRY LEAF TEA

 

THE MAIDEN PHASE:

Burdock (root) and Dandelion (root) are a great pair as liver cleansers and the burdock helps greatly with teenage acne.  Teas of these two roots are excellent with a little bit of honey to sweeten.

CLICK HERE TO ORDER DANDELION ROOT TEA

Milk Thistle will help with adolescent surges and the emotional roller-coaster.

CLICK HERE TO ORDER MILK THISTLE EXTRACT

Pau d’arco from South America is rich in calcium and has positive effects on a growing endocrine system.

Siberian ginsing is a major endocrine gland tonics and have properties similar to the adrenal cortical hormone, this is great for exhausted teenagers.  It also supports the liver and bloodstream.

Wild Yams beneficially effect the adrenals, digestive system, liver and endocrine system.

 

THE MOTHER PHASE:

Avena Sativa better known as oats are an alleviator of menstrual cramps.  It increases blood flow and stimulates the central nervous system.  Avena Sativa is also thought to free bound testosterone, an essential hormone for both females & males.

Dong quai and wild yams (not to be mistaken for sweet potatoes), along with other estrogenic herbs can be used in combination to treat menstrual difficulties and other conditions where a woman’s hormones need to be brought back into balance.

Note:  Dong quai is not to be used during pregnancy or breastfeeding.

Galactagogues are those herbs that establish and promote the flow of mother’s milk. They often have high calcium contents and vary in taste. Below are a few examples of Galactagogues:

  • Alfalfa
  • Anise Seed
  • Basil
  • Black Seed Oil
  • Blessed Thistle
  • Borage Seed Oil
  • Caraway Seed
  • Castor Oil
  • Chaste Tree
  • Dandelion Root
  • Dill
  • Fennel Seed
  • Fenugreek
  • Garlic
  • Goat’s Rue
  • Hops
  • Jasmine Oil (not to be used during pregnancy)
  • Lemongrass
  • Milk Thistle Seed
  • Sesame
  • Tribulus terrestris

Red Raspberry Leaf is a must for anyone trying to conceive as it clears toxins that can prevent pregnancy.  It also strengthens uterine walls making implantation easier reducing the risk of early miscarriage.  While pregnant Red Raspberry Leaf will continue to strengthen, and tone the uterus.  Trick is finding the right balance for your body, if you drink too much you can throw yourself into early labor.  I drank 1-2 cups daily until about Week 36 when I increased to 4-5 cups daily.  This worked well for my body however all bodies while similar are different.  I was lucky enough to have a healthy baby boy in under 1.5 hours.  I believe this was because the Red Raspberry Leaf had allowed me to dilate over time instead of all at once.  Just listen to your body and if you feel anything more than slight creamping, be sure to cut back on consumption.

Note:  Always consult with a licensed herbalist before taking any herbs during pregnancy.

CLICK HERE TO ORDER RED RASPBERRY LEAF TEA

 

THE MATRIARCH PHASE:

Ashwagandha has been shown to reduce the stress hormone, cortisol, which disrupts endocrine function and prompts premature aging.  It stimulates blood flow to a woman’s reproductive organs and also helps to produce positive effects on hot flashes, anxiety and depression.

CLICK HERE TO ORDER ASHWAGANDHA

Avena Sativa better known as oats are known as a libido enhancer and alleviator of menstrual cramps.  It increases blood flow and stimulates the central nervous system.  Avena Sativa is also thought to free bound testosterone, an essential hormone for sexual desire in both genders.

Black cohosh contains numerous chemical constituents, among them isoflavones which mimic hormonal activity. This makes this herb useful for hot flashes, vaginal dryness, and even the depression sometimes associated with menopause.

Note:  This is never to be used during pregnancy or breastfeeding

Catuaba bark has been used by the Tupi Indians of Brazil for thousands of years.  It stimulates the central nervous system, thereby providing energy and a more positive mood.  It is also known to be an aphrodisiac.

Epimedium better known as Horny Goat Weed, it not only encourages blood flow to the reproductive organs but also has menopause symptom relieving effects.

Maca (root) also known as Peruvian Ginseng, has been used for centuries by the indigenous people of the Andes, to treat infertility, sexual dysfunction, hot flashes, sleep disruption and night sweats associated with menopause.

CLICK HERE TO ORDER MACA ROOT

Muria Puama this little known herbal gem calms the nerves, relieves anxiety and also increases blood flow to the pelvic area.

Red Clover greatly benefits the body’s arterial strength and flexibility while helping to relive menopausal symptoms.  It also helps to maintain bone strength.

Shilajit revered in both traditional Indian and Chinese medicine is used as a tonic, which aids in physical energy, mood enhancement and sexual drive.

CLICK HERE TO ORDER SHIAJIT

Suma known as South American Ginsing, is commonly used to improve the mood, stimulate sexual desire and encourage overall reproductive health.

Tongkat Ali used in Malaysia by women to stimulate libido, increase sensitivity to erogenous zones, supports energy levels, cognitive function and creates positive responses to stress.

Tribulus terrestis stimulates androgen receptors in the brain and encourages the body to use hormones more efficiently.

Now that you have this information you can start honoring the stage you are in by doing research on the herbs in the correct category.  Some herbs may have contraindications with certain medicines, so be sure to check with your physician before beginning any new herbs or adding to your current.

 

In this section, we covered the different phases of a woman’s life cycle as well as herbs to help with each of those cycles.  Next we will focus on how to balance your hormones through diet adjustments and lifestyle changes.

How To Tell When Your Hormones Are Outta Whack

How to Tell When Your Hormones are Outta Whack

In the last blog, What are “Female” Hormones?, we learned that our hormones are the chemical messengers in our bodies that help it function properly.  Hormones effect the brain, heart, bones, muscles, and reproductive organs and are an essential part of the workings of every cell in the human body.  As you can see, having balanced hormones is a very important part in overall health and wellbeing.  So in this blog I will discuss how hormones get thrown outta whack as well as how to tell if your hormones are balanced or not.

How do Hormones Get Out of Balance?

Our bodies are ingeniously designed machines and they withstand many years of torture from our toxic life styles.  Hormone balance is deeply connected to the foods we consume, the amount of movement that we do, how many toxins we take in, how much weight we carry and the stresses that we deal with.  Let’s do a quick review of a few of the many factors that can throw off your hormonal balance.

Consistent high levels of stress: When stress takes center stage in our lives and becomes chronic, Cortisol, a hormone produced by the adrenal glands, floods the system and total hormone production is disrupted. The body tries to compensate for this disruption by stealing its own supply of available progesterone, to make more cortisol, thus depleting this key hormone.  Prolonged stress tears up our bones, melts our muscles, robs us of vital energy and strength, lowers our libido and overwhelms or immune system.  All of these factors put our bodies at serious risk of chronic illness, cancer and autoimmune diseases.

Poor food choices: Insulin, serotonin, cortisol, and dopamine, not to mention estrogen and testosterone are each affected by the food choices we make.  Xenoestrogens in animal products and byproducts all throw off your hormonal balance (more on Xenoestrogens below).

Inadequate sleep: Sleep deprivation has been shown to lower the appetite-suppressing hormone known as leptin and increase the hormone that stimulates hunger known as ghrelin.  Chronic sleep deprivation wreaks havoc on your bodies stress response hormone, cortisol.  Having these hormones out of whack will affect your brain function, ability to keep off weight as well as damaging your immune system.

Taking synthetic hormones: Synthetic versions of Estrogen and progesterone hormones may change the way your body absorbs or discards critical nutrients and can also have an adverse effect on your mood.  They can also impact the hormones that make your body interested in sex so that you find your libido pretty much non-existent.

Sedentary lifestyle: Lack of movement or exercise cause a host of problems in the body, hormone imbalance being only one. 

Xenoestrogens: These man-made toxins mimic the estrogen that is naturally created by the body.  Unlike natural estrogen, these fake hormones severely overstimulate cellular activity, wreaking havoc on the internal balancing mechanisms of the body raising the estrogen burden and along with it the risk of breast cancer.  Xenoestrogens are found in beef and dairy that is pumped full of synthetic growth hormones, in personal care products, household cleaners, in plastics, acetone (paint thinners, removers & even fingernail polish remover) and in pesticides, fungicides, herbicides and more.  The scariest thing about these Xenoestrogens, is that once they are introduced into the body, they are not easily removed.

SIGNS THAT YOUR HORMONES ARE OUTTA WHACK

Even when only one unbalanced hormone is present, it may result in the following hormonal imbalance symptoms in women.  This list is not all encompassing, please remember that hormones are messengers and if they are not functioning properly you will have some sort of dis-ease of the body.

Symptoms of Hormonal Imbalance in Women

  • Fatigue not relieved by rest
  • Tired all the time/no energy
  • Difficulty getting up in the morning
  • Poor sleep
  • Craving for salty or sugary foods
  • It takes more effort to perform every day tasks and duties
  • Decreased sex drive
  • Decreased ability to handle stress
  • Increased time to recover from illness or injury
  • Light headed when standing up quickly
  • Light headed, dizzy, or nausea after periods of not eating
  • Hirsutism (excessive facial hair)
  • Depression
  • Lack of enjoyment or happiness
  • Weight gain/loss
  • Food intolerance
  • Sinus problems
  • Alcohol intolerance
  • Excessive allergies
  • Anxiety
  • Digestive disorders
  • Dry and thin skin
  • Excessive hunger
  • No hunger
  • Hair loss
  • Unexplained headaches
  • Immune deficiencies
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Infections
  • Liver disorders
  • Chronic pain
  • Inflammation
  • Blood pressure problems
  • Low body temperature
  • Hot flashes
  • Night sweats
  • Mood swings
  • Poor memory
  • PMS
  • Sleep disorders
  • Tender breasts
  • Weakness
  • Difficulty building muscle
  • Cramping
  • Fluid retention
  • Slow metabolism
  • Irritability
  • Chronic illness
  • And more and more and more

Today we learned about the causes of hormone imbalance as well as common symptoms.  Check back tomorrow for different natural ways to balance these hormones during the Maiden, Mother and Matriarch Phases of life.

Check out the Full Medical Disclaimer Here.

 

What are “Female” Hormones?

By: Stephanie Phillips

Hormones are the chemical messengers that regulate or change the functions of organs and structures throughout your body.  Hormones are created in small organs, called glands and move throughout the body, usually through the bloodstream.  The release of hormones is one ways that different parts of the body communicate with one another.  While hormones are present in both males and females, the main ones we will focus on in this blog are estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone as it relates to female development.  These hormones are created by the ovaries, two almond-shaped sex glands that are in the pelvis.  Your ovaries also produce a woman’s eggs.

During fetal development, the sex glands are relatively active.  By the time, you are born, every egg is fully formed and stowed away in the ovaries.  During infancy and childhood, or the Maiden Phase, they slow down production.  Then, when puberty hits, the sex glands kick back into high gear.  At this time, they begin to produce adult sexual development and urges.  Mood swings area also associated with puberty.  After this period, most women settle into a regular ovulation pattern.

As mentioned before, the ovaries make both estrogen and progesterone, along with other hormones in a cyclic fashion (ie. Why it is called the monthly cycle).  The levels of these hormones rise and fall with ovulation.  This takes between 21 to 35 days, and ends with a two to seven-day period of menstruation.  This is called the Mother Phase, since this is when your hormones have balanced out and your eggs have had time to mature.  This process will continue for 30 to 40+ years of your life.  It is important to remember that your cycle can be interrupted now and then, of course by pregnancy but also by stressful events.

Estrogen is the primary female hormone, building up the uterine lining, stimulating breast tissue and thickening the vaginal wall.  It also effects almost every organ in the body.  It plays a critical role in bone building and is thought to have very important effects on the cardiovascular system.

Progesterone, is also a very important hormone, especially when it comes to pregnancy.  It is produced only during the second half of the menstrual cycle and prepares the uterine lining for an egg to implant.  Progesterone also has other effects on any of the tissues that are sensitive to estrogen.

Testosterone, is also produced by the ovaries and plays a role in generating energy, developing muscle mass and stimulating sexual desire.

The balance of these hormones in your body at any given time is affected by many factors.  The pituitary gland, a gland found at the base of your brain, and your ovaries are constantly communicating via their respective hormones, dictating the changing hormone levels of your monthly cycle and the production of eggs.  The pituitary gland produces a follicle-stimulating hormone among other hormones.  Medications, stress, body weight (over or under), time of day and even time of the moth can all cause temporary changes in your hormone.

Once we reach the Matriarch Phase of life, permanent changes to the hormone levels and hormone balance occur.  The ovaries will slowly begin to stop releasing eggs, which at this point may no longer be viable.  When this happens they also quit producing their hormones.  This will usually happen over a period of time, beginning anywhere from the late 30’s to the 40’s and even early 50’s in some women.  Progesterone is the first hormone to slow down production, this can lead to heavier and more frequent periods.  This is known as “perimenopause”.

After that the estrogen production begins to taper off, this is what leads to the common discomforts and health concerns that are associated with menopause.  Fluctuating and falling estrogen levels disrupt your internal thermostat, causing hot flashes or vasomotor instability.  Your sleep cycles and some muscle tone are affected by the drastic reduction in estrogen, most notably muscle tone in the pelvic area.  Therefore it’s so vital to keep up those Kegel exercises.

This has been just a quick description of the female hormones and how they work.  Tomorrow I will put up a blog on How to Tell When Your Hormones are Outta Whack. 

BODY & SOUL AWARENESS HOMEWORK-Alkaline Herbs/Spices

This weeks homework is to pick an herb from the alkaline list below and use it.  Use it in a tea, cook with it or even heal with it.   Do your own research but some of the health benefits are listed below.  Have fun with it…since taking care of yourself naturally is so awesome.  If you have questions please contact me at stephanie@edensbalance.com

ALKALINE HERBS, SPICES & SEASONINGS

This is not an all encompassing list..it is constantly growing & I will add to it…but this is what I have so far.

ACHIOTE (Annato)

Improves digestion, helps to manage diabetes, aids in prevention of cancer, helps in treatment of gonorrhea, aids in maintain healthy bones, beneficial in reducing signs of aging, prevents macular degeneration and cataracts & reduces the risk of neural tube defects in newborn infants

 achiote-annato
 Allspice ALLSPICE

Aids in digestion, rich in antioxidant properties, aids in maintaining a healthy heart, helps to improve blood circulation, boost immune system and dental health, gives relief from arthritis, gout and hemorrhoids.  Caution: Avoid using if suffering from gastric ulcers or ulcerative colitis.

ANISE

Aids in faster healing of wounds, gives relief from rheumatic and arthritic pains, aids in eliminating intestinal worms in children, boosts metabolism, stimulates the nervous system, provides relief from excess gas, indigestion and flatulence, helps in clearing congestion in lungs and respiratory tracts, provides relief from stress, anxiety, depression, anger and insomnia, effective in sedating nervous afflictions, hyper reactions and convulsions, provides relief from cramps, coughs, aches and obstructed blood circulation

 ANISE
BAY LEAF

Helps prevent cancer, gives relief from anxiety, aids in managing diabetes, improves health of hair follicles, helps to alleviate various respiratory conditions, facilitates efficient digestion and nutrient intake, helps to lower levels of stress hormone, eliminates bad cholesterol from cardiovascular system and aids in reducing inflammation caused by sore joints and arthritis.

 bay leaf
 Burdock__Root_Tea_article2 BURDOCK

Lowers blood pressure, stimulated the digestive system relieving constipation and preventing bloating, helps balance hormones, boosts immune system and improves skin health.

Caution:  Although rare, some people have allergies to Burdock.  Also avoid if you are on potassium diuretic therapy as Burdock is very high in potassium and can cause potassium toxicity.

CHAMOMILE

Reduces diabetic complications and hyperglycemia, boosts the immune system, relieves muscle spasms and menstrual cramps for women, reduces inflammation, soothes the stomach, helps promote restful sleep, helps relieve back pain, helps relieve rheumatism and improves liver function

 chamomile
 Cloves CLOVES

Aids in digestion, boosts immune system, provides relief from headaches, protects liver against infections, effective against bacterial infection, beneficial in preserving bone density, helps in controlling blood sugar levels, provides relief from inflammation and pain, rich in anti-cancer and anti-mutagenic properties and aids in treating gum diseases like gingivitis and periodontal disease

DILL

Aids in digestion, reduces risk of cancer, helps reduce inflammation, improves immune system, cures respiratory disorders, helps maintain menstrual cycles, provides relief from diarrhea & dysentery, calms hiccups due to allergies, beneficial for bones, helps control diabetes and prevents excessive gas

 Dill
 elderberry ELDERBERRY

Helps in weight loss, boosts immune system, reduces appearance of wrinkles and age spots, aids in eliminating excess cholesterol from bodiy, alleviates respiratory conditions such as cold and cough, eliminates constipation and boosts gastrointestinal system, beneficial in reducing blood pressure and managing diabetes, promotes bone strength and development of new bone tissue, helps prevent atherosclerosis and other cardiovascular issues and helps alleviate joint pain and soreness caused by inflammation

FENNEL

Purifies blood, excellent antiseptic and anti-spasmodic agnet, provides relief from menstrual problems, stimulates brain and neural activity, improves amount of milk in lactating mothers, effective in treating cough, relieves gas trouble and indigestion, kills intestinal worms and increases frequency of urination

Caution:  To be avoided by pregnant women & women with breast cancer

 Fennel_seed
 garlic GARLIC

Aids in digestion, helps cure hypertension, usefl for curing ear aches, helps treat cough and cold, provides relief from acne and asthma, protects against side effects of diabetes, provides relief from intestinal ailments, reduces high cholesterol levels, aids in treating eye infections and reduces risk of cancer

GINGER

Good for food poisoning, indigestion and diarrhea, provides relief from menstration problems, strengthens heart health, helps reduce inflammation and muscle pain, relieves depression, mental stress, exhaustion and anxiety, effective against nausea and respiratory disorders, aids in dissolving kidney stones, prevents dandruff, helps treat malaria and yellow fever, eliminates impotency and prevents premature ejaculation

 ginger-1q48l3a
 oregano-leaves OREGANO

Helps to energise and rejuvenate the body, aids in digestion, boosts immune system, reduces risk of atherosclerosis, heart attacks and strokes, aids in speeding up metabolism, beneficial in detoxifying body and helps to protect against bacterial that can affect skin and gut

Caution:  May cause allergy

PARSLEY

Reduces internal inflammations and helps to cleanse liver, helps to prevent cancer, useful in managing diabetes, protects agains osteoporosis and helps in maintaing bone health, helps to strengthen immune system, provides relief from rheumatoid arthritis, beneficial in controlling urinary tract infections and gallbladder stones

Caution: Avoid exess consumption during pregnancy

 Parsley2
 raspberry_leaf RASPBERRY LEAF

Strengthens immune system, aids in weitht loss, reduces risk of macular degeneration, helps to maintain healthy and glowing skin, promotes good health and protects against cancer, regulates menstrual cycle, helps milk production in lactating mothers, relieves nausea in pregnant women, protects against infections caused by bacteria and fungi, aids in reducing wrinkles and age spots

SAGE

Aids in managing diabetes, helps keep skin healthy, improves digestion, rich in antioxidants, helps growth and development of bones, boosts cognitive development and immune system, hekps to reduce inflammation and improves overall health

 sage
sea salt SEA SALT

Helps in maintaining balanced levels of blood sugar and blood pressure, effective in providing therapeutic relief from rheumatoid arthritis, promotes dental health and helps maintain bodys electrolyte balance

Caution: Avoid excess intake of any type of salt

Alkaline food list was acquired from www.lovelighthealers.com

READ THE FULL MEDICAL DISCLAIMER HERE

NEWBORN SKIN CARE

The Little Guy just turned 5 months and I still can’t believe how fast the time has gone.  I swear I was just pushing this little guy out just a few days ago.  I had someone ask me about skin care products for use on babies…so I figured why not blog all about it!

Popular lore would love for us to think that every baby needs pink lotion slathered on their skin, baby oil on their cradle cap and baby powder on their bottoms.  Don’t get me wrong, my first kid used it all.  I loved the smell of a squeaky clean baby.  The smell of baby wash will forever be etched in my mind.  The doctor actually smeared it all over as he was being delivered.  I have no clue why, I guess to make his exit smoother?  Knowing what I do now I would have smacked her mid-push…having a Doula during that delivery would have been priceless, oh well, live & learn.

In this blog I will go over my little guys skincare routine along with products that I recommend and ones I definitely avoid.  I will focus primarily on the first 6 months but most of this information will be great for your older children as well as adults.  Please keep in mind that skincare is not just limited to soaps & lotions.  Chemicals, fragrances, detergents and dyes in clothing can cause irritation, dryness, chafing, and rashes.  If you are breastfeeding your food choices can effect your little ones skin too.

SKINCARE AT BIRTH

It’s important to remember that a newborns skin is very sensitive and requires little intervention when they first arrive.  Some babies are born with a white coating called vernix caseosa, which protects their skin from the constant exposure to amniotic fluid in the womb. Babies born after 40 weeks are born wrinkled and with little to no vernix caseosa.  This is perfectly ok but if your baby is born with the vernix caseosa, rub it into the skin, do not wipe it off.  It will protect the baby’s skin from infection outside of the womb too.

Vernix is a white substance that protects the baby's skin from the amniotic fluid & even infection.
Vernix is a white substance that protects the baby’s skin from the amniotic fluid & even infection.  This baby was born at 37 weeks..
Kihre was born at 42 weeks w/ no vernix.
Kihre was born at 42 weeks w/ no vernix at all.

It is a common practice in hospitals to wipe off the vernix.  Then again there are a lot of hospital practices that I do not agree with, exactly why Kih was born at home.  I won’t get into that in this blog but here is a link to an awesome blog on Natural Newborn Care.  It discusses everything from waiting to cut the cord to the best way to administer Vitamin K.  Check it out, it’s well written and informative.

WHAT TO AVOID

Before I get into the specifics of newborn skin care, I need to tell you that everything that we have been programmed to believe about skin care comes from a multi-million dollar industry.  I know it is hard to believe but the unsurprising irony is that none of that is necessary. Your baby’s skin is far better off with minimal intervention. The fewer soaps, shampoos, and lotions that you apply to your little one’s incredible new skin, the healthier and more perfect it will be.

Mainstream baby products contain numerous toxic ingredients that will enter your baby’s body if used. The best option is to stick with natural, nourishing, and edible ingredients such straight oils (olive, sweet almond, coconut) and fragrance-free bar soap, although omitting soap and rinsing just with water is usually fine, too. (If you wouldn’t put it in your mouth, don’t use it.) Your baby may not have that stereotypical baby-powder smell, but he or she will be healthier in the long run, and that’s all that matters.

That being said, when you do buy baby anything you should avoid these ingredients without fail.

  • Talc-used as a drying agent, mostly used in baby powder, it is a natural mineral however it is carcinogenic.  In recent months it has been linked to Ovarian cancer because of use to keep the female nether regions dry.  My mom used Baby Powder daily and died from Ovarian cancer, not a scientific study but I’m convinced it played a role in her death.
  • Fragrance-The problem with fragrance is that it’s a catch-all term for whatever secret ingredients companies wish to add (they are not obligated to reveal what’s contained within ‘fragrance’), and are generally made of coal- and petroleum-derived synthetic chemicals.  Most of these chemicals are known to cause problems in every system from the nervous to digestive systems.
  • Propylene glycol-This chemical is a penetration enhancer that is easily absorbed by the skin and may be carcinogenic. Its job is basically to open up all the pores and let the other chemicals in. Propylene glycol is used in wiper fluid and to de-ice airplanes, and yet it is often found in baby wipes, which is not safe. Look out for polyethylene glycol (PEG) and polypropylene glycol (PPG) on labels, too.
  • 1,4-dioxane and Ethylated Surfactants-The Environmental Working Group found that 57 percent of baby soaps are contaminated with 1,4-dioxane. Although it’s never listed as an ingredient, 1,4-dioxane is often present in beauty products because it is a contaminant or by-product that occurs when “ethylene oxide, a known breast carcinogen is added to other chemicals to make them less harsh” (There’s Lead In Your Lipstick).If you see any ingredients that contain the letters eth, then that is an indicator of the presence of 1,4-dioxane. Stay away from polyethylene, polyethylene glycol, sodium laureth sulfate, ceteareth, oleth, oxynol, -xynol, and PEG.
  • Mineral Oil or Baby Oil-is essentially mineral oil mixed with fragrance, what a nasty combination to call Baby Oil.  Mineral oil is a cheap byproduct of petroleum processing and works like plastic wrap on the skin.  This inhibits the skin’s natural ability to release toxins and breathe.
  • Parabens-these nasty little things are in everything from soaps, body washes, shampoos and moisturizers, including the ones marketed as baby safe.  They are neurotixins and are linked to reproductive toxicity, hormone disruption and skin irritation.  Avoid anything with the word paraben in its name, as well as benzoic acid and propyl ester.
  • Triclosan-If it says ‘antibacterial’ it likely contains triclosan, which is a carcinogenic endocrine disruptor.  Although it makes sense to keep babies away from unnecessary bacteria, it is the wrong approach to raise them in completely sterile environments.  By doing this we inhibit their ability to create a naturla resistance and immunity, increase the likelihood of allergies, and render antibacterial treatments less effective for when we truly need them.  It is not recommended to use antibacterial soaps and body washes.

Ok so now that everything you have ever known to be good for a babies skin is basicly poision, what should you use?  Below I have broken out different areas of skin care for newborns from diapering to cradle cap and back to bathing.

UMBILICAL CORD CARE

While the umbilical cord performed the magical feat of nourishing your LO in the womb, it is still kinda yucky as it dries up and falls off.  The good thing is that it requires little maintenance.  Here are a few tips to help it heal and fall off as quick as possible.

  • Keep the area dry at all times.  There is no need to fully immerse your newborn into a bathtub before the cord falls off.  If you need to bath the baby simply use care to keep the cord as dry as possible.  If it gets wet it is not the end of the world but it can slow the drying process.
  • Keep the area clean.  It is important to keep the diaper from sitting on the stump.  This can introduce urine bacteria and cause infection, it will also keep the area moist and unable to dry.  Air is super important for scabbing process to take place.
  • Apply Goldenseal Root Powder.  Goldenseal Root is a natural antibiotic that will help the scabbing.  You can simply dab a bit of the powder onto a clean cotton swab and apply to the stump, paying special attention to the base.  Be sure that you do not “double-dip” the cotton swab into the powder.  Do this 3x a day until it dries up.  Make sure that when the stump falls off you discontinue use, as long term use is not recommended.  Also please note that this bright yellow powder will stain so please take care.
  • Keep baby in loose fitting clothing so it doesn’t rub the cord.  This is again so air can flow freely to the area.
  • Do Not, I Repeat, Do Not remove the stump.  No matter how badly you want to , do not remove the stump.  It can cause bleeding that will not stop.  This can be serious.  Trust me, it will fall off when it is good and ready.

DIAPERING

I must admit that I did not make an investment in Newborn cloth diapers.  I did receive 2 as a gift but obviously that isn’t enough for a full day.  You should actually have enough for 2 days incase something comes up and you can’t get to the wash, that means 24 minimum.  I did use the NB cloth diapers I had daily along with disposable ones.  Ok so this isn’t a blog about diapers (I’m working on that one too…so many blogs so little time) but I do need to address possible diaper allergies.

Contact dermatitis

Disposable diapers are quite possibly the reason for your little ones red bum.  No seriously, they are filled with materials that are not only possible allergens but also known to be toxic.  Irritation caused by constant contact to these irritants or allergens is known as Contact dermatitis.

Common Allergens in Disposable Diapers that cause Contact dermatitis:

  • Dioxins-the residue left over after using chlorine to make the diaper material white.  According to the WHO (World Health Organization) Dioxins are highly carcinogenic and exposer can cause skin reactions, altered liver function and disrupts the immune, endocrine, nervous and reproductive functions.
  • Sodium Polyacrylate-this super absorbent compound is a mixture of cellulose from trees and crystals from polyacrylate.  You may have seen it before, it looks like little jelly crystals on the baby’s skin.  It was removed from tampons because of toxicity concerns, only to be reintroduced in diapers.  There are not long term studies but it is said to be linked to skin irritation and respiratory problems.
  • Tributyl-tin (TBT)-according to research published by the American Institute of Biological Sciences, tributyl-tin can trigger genes that promote the growth of fat cells, causing obesity in humans.
  • Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)-These include chemicals such as ethylbenzene, toluene, xylene and dipentene. According to the EPA, VOCs can cause eye, nose and throat irritation, headaches, damage to the liver, kidney and central nervous system. Some VOCs are even suspected of causing cancer in humans (EPA.gov).
  • Other Yucky Stuff-Other skin irritating chemicals often used in disposable diapers include dyes, fragrances, plastics, latex and petrolatum’s. Adhesive chemicals are used in the sticky tabs to close the diapers and dyes are used to color and make the patterns and labels that mark diapers. Perfumes and fragrances are used in some disposable diapers to help mask odors.

There are a few ways to tell if the irritation is caused by Contact dermatitis.

  • The rash can take up to 2 days to appear after contact with irritant
  • Redness is accompanied by bumps, puss or blisters that cannot be resolved with diaper rash
  • No matter how many times you change your little ones diaper or how dry he/she is, the irritation will not go away
  • Irritation is not limited to areas that pee and poo are present, ie the area on the tummy where the waist band rubs
  • Irritation is only present on contact areas and does not spread

This can most easily be remedied by changing the brand of diapers that you use.  We have been using Babyganics brand diapers, they are free of chlorine, latex, petroleum and fragrances.  I started with Honest and they work about the same but Babyganics is more pocket friendly.  Of course the best, most earth-friendly option will be the cloth diapers.  Cotton or Bamboo fabrics are best for babies sensitive skin.

Irritant Diaper Dermatitis better known as Diaper Rash

Irritant Diaper Dermatitis or Diaper Rash is caused when moisture is trapped between two skin surfaces.  It is due to infrequently changed diapers, diarrhea, new foods and allergies.  My lil guy goes through about 8-12 diapers a day.  I simply change him as needed when he is awake and every time he wakes up from a nap.  That being said, he still sometimes has a little red on his bottom after a poo.

Diaper rash usually clears up in 1-3 days when diaper is kept dry.  Topical ointments can be applied to provide a barrier from the moisture and to help soothe the irritation.  Most over the counter products will contain petroleum jelly.  Harmless right?  Wrong!!  Although it has been used as a cure all for many years, it is a by-product of the oil industry and has been known to have carcinogenic effects.  This simply stated means that it has the potential to cause cancer.  Its purity cannot be guaranteed as the refining is not regulated.  Petroleum jelly also clogs the pores not allowing skin to breathe, one of the skins most important functions.  So my take on this is stay away from it.  There are plenty of unharmful and renewable natural alternatives.

I like coconut oil because it is anti-bacterial  & anti-fungal and use it on a regular basis just for general maintenance.  It works great for minor irritations caused by wet diapers.  When my LO has his poopie days (breastfed babies do not necessarily go #2 everyday) he gets a little irritated on his bum.  On those days I use Baby Bee Bum Butter from Walnut Hollow Workshop.  Love this stuff, it makes his bum go from red to taupe in no time flat.  Even better all the ingredients are natural & beneficial.  You can get it from the Fredericksburg Farmers Market.

BABY BEE BUM BUTTER
BABY BEE BUM BUTTER

Baby Wipes

Baby wipes are full of the nasties…there are some good brands that have natural ingredients with out all the toxic ones.  I found an awesome blog from Safe Mama, that goes over all of the ‘Safer’ baby wipes.  These are however very expensive.  An alternative is to just make your own at home.

I don’t use anything special to wipe his bum only simple ingredients.  I mix some castile soap and water on a baby wash cloth (I use different wash cloths for diapering and bathing).  I wipe his bottom, let it air dry and toss the soiled wash cloth in a wet bag for washing within 48 hours.  I like this option for two reasons, 1) It is earth and tree friendly and 2) It is inexpensive.

That being said, disposable wipes are so convenient, especially when you are out and about and they still save tons of money.  Here is a recipe for Natural Homemade Baby Wipes from Wellness Mama that I just love.  I actually recommend you bookmark her site, it is great.  The most important thing to remember is that you need to always make small batches.  Enough for 1 to 2 days only, after 48 hours water will start to grow bacteria even with essential oils.

THANK HEAVEN FOR LITTLE…BOYS!  Just not their circumcisions…Ouch!!

No seriously!  I’m glad I have 2 boys.  Ok well except for the circumcision part…ouch!  I’m not going to get into my opinion on this but since it is such a common practice and it is skin, I will get into the care.  When my first son was born, he was circumcised in the hospital.  I can only imagine being whisked away from your mothers arms and taken into a room with strangers that hold you down and cut off a piece of your skin.  Only to be left with a raw, tender wound that is left to sit in a closed diaper, stinging every time you pee.

I’m not judging either way….one of my boys is circumcised, the other is not.  If you do choose circumcision it does require special cleaning & care for the first 7-10 days.  Since the wound will most surely come in contact with urine & poo, it is imperative that you clean the area well.  Do not use soap.  All you need is warm, NOT hot, WARM water.   You should come home with a peri bottle.

PERI BOTTLE

If you did not, you can get one from your local drug store.  Please don’t take the baby in a drug store, ever if you can avoid it.  Obviously because sick people go there to get medications & prescriptions.  Just put warm water into the peri bottle and squirt the area to remove any yucky bits.  Please be careful not to get the umbilical cord wet.  It is important that it dries, as noted earlier.

Let the area air dry, you can fan with a diaper too.  Change the diaper constantly,  sitting in urine is the worst thing for irritation.  It is very important to apply a lubricant that will keep urine off of the irritation as well as keep it from sticking to the diaper, ouch!  As noted previously I don’t use petroleum based products because of its carcinogenic nature.  Besides it is not a renewable resource therefore not earth friendly.  I don’t know about you but I would like my LO to have a planet to live on.  Anyways, enough on my tree hugging tangent…yes…I hug trees and so will my LO.

There are a few natural remedies to help calm the irritation and help the wound heal faster.  As I wrote earlier, Coconut Oil is like magic for irritation because of its calming & anti bacterial properties. You can simply dab some on a cotton make-up pad and apply to the tip at every change.  This will keep the area moisturized and from sticking to the diaper.  It will also keep the area germ free.

Coconut Oil & Organic Cotton Make-up Pads
Coconut Oil & Organic Cotton Make-up Pads

You can also melt some beeswax in a double boiler & add coconut oil for an extra barrier from moisture.  I would use a mixture of 1 part beeswax to 6 parts coconut oil.  You can adjust the formula but don’t make it too hard because you want it to smooth on easily with out much resistance on the skin.  Make sure you melt the beeswax first as it has a much higher melting point than the Coconut Oil.  Then add the Coconut Oil at the end.

Beeswax Melting with Coconut Oil
Beeswax Melting with Coconut Oil

Give it a good stir and pour into an airtight glass lid and it will keep for a year or two as long as you don’t introduce any water into it.  This mixture is great for a diaper rash ointment as well.

Beeswax & Coconut Oil Mixture Cooled
Beeswax & Coconut Oil Mixture Cooled

THE DREADED CRADLE CAP…

Infantile seborrhoeic dermatitis better known as Cradle Cap is a greasy, yellowish scaly rash that is very common within the first year of life.  It doesn’t seem to cause discomfort to the baby and is fairly easy to remedy with some coconut oil or olive oil and a soft baby brush. Most of the sites that I read said it was normal and wasn’t a clue to the health or cleanliness of the baby.

I still had to wonder if it was linked to some sort of nutrient deficiency or allergy.  I couldn’t help but think that there had to be some underlying cause.  After a lot of research I found that cradle cap is associated with a number of different factors including hormone breakdown, yeast in the digestive tract, food allergies and inflammation.  So obviously nutrition or lack of is a contributing factor.  It makes sense since a properly working and nourished digestive system is imperative to health.  I did a whole blog on the Newborn Digestive System that will give you great information on how it works.

Cradle cap is often the first sign that your baby may be having trouble processing what they are ingesting.  Babies on formula have higher incidence of cradle cap because it is tougher for them to break down.  Breastfed babies who suffer with cradle cap may be having difficulty processing mother’s milk due to an allergen in her diet.  It is important to identify what is causing the cradle cap because the inflammation in the system will often progress beyond the scalp and cause eczema.  This puts the baby at higher risk for allergies and asthma in the future.

My LO had a slight instance of cradle cap at three months, it was very slight but was directly linked to me eating dairy products.  About two weeks after I stopped consuming dairy, mostly cheese & kefir, his cradle cap & eczema cleared right up…I will get to the eczema later but it was also directly linked to the dairy as well.

While I patiently waited to see if my diet changes would remedy the cradle cap,  I simply applied coconut oil or olive oil and let it sit for 20 minutes or so.  If it is severe enough you can put a baby cap on to heat up the oil and get it deeper into the skin.  I also expressed breastmilk and applied liberally on the cradle cap.  Let me tell you, breastmilk is like magic for any skin ailment that your LO may have.  I did not have to use a brush to remove any flaky skin because it was so slight but you can use a soft baby brush to gently loosen the flakes so they can be wiped off.

Best Oils to Use on Cradle Cap

  • Almond Oil
  • Coconut Oil
  • Jojoba Oil
  • Avocado Oil
  • Olive Oil
  • Shea Butter

Most of the research I found said to use a gentle shampoo to remove the cradle cap.  I find that shampoo, especially most commercial shampoos dry out an adults hair and skin so I know it is even more damaging and irritating to a babies sensitive skin.  I use an unscented handmade bar soap from Walnut Hollow Workshop for my LO head to toe.  Then again my LO is still bald at 5 1/2 months.

BATHING

At first your infant will require little bathing.  A sponge bath with warm water is enough until the umbilical cord falls off, this can mean the first “real” bath won’t be until one to four weeks after birth.  After that they can graduate to weekly or bi-weekly baths in a baby tub or a sink will work just fine too.  You don’t need to use a large amount of soap on their delicate skin, they really aren’t getting dirty at this age.

I used my Earth Mama Angel Baby Angel Baby Body Wash & Shampoo initially.  It is great for quick washing since it foams.  It is Castile Soap based so it is very gentle but it is not tear free.  I was just very careful when I wiped him clean.  At this point I still don’t dump water onto his head, I find simple wiping to suffice.  If your LO has cradle cap and needs a good rinse then simply lean him/her back and be careful not to get in eyes.

I stopped using the product after he started getting eczema around 3 months.  I am not saying the product caused eczema, I actually know now that it was caused strictly by my diet since it healed with my dietary changes.  I did however change to an unscented hand made bar soap while I waited for his skin to heal.  I didn’t have any of my Shea Honey Oat Organic soap made so I had to buy something else.   I fell in love with it, it is very simple, pure and effective.  I get the soap from the Walnut Hollow Workshop.  Yes I love their products, so simple, effective and  so baby perfect.  I love it just as much as the soaps that I make but I love to support local businesses, especially when I know the owners personally.  I know they live by holistic principals and ensure only the purest quality ingredients go into all of their products.

I still go by the weekly, bi-weekly schedule unless he has a diaper blow out, I definitely bathe him afterwards.  Other than that I just wipe him down with warm water on the off days.  Remember what I said at the beginning, Less is Best.  Too much washing will dry out skin whether you are 0 or 95 years old.  Your skin creates its own moisture glands that produce sebum.

Sebum makes its way to the skins surface through the pores and keeps it waterproof.  It’s a barrier in two ways: It keeps too much water from getting into your body, and it prevents you from losing too much water through your skin. Sebum also protects skin from bacterial and fungal infections.  If you constantly wash off the sebum, your babies skin will lack this natural defense.

Once your babe is over 6 months he/she will start to be more mobile, possibly crawling.  You can also begin to introduce solid foods slowly at this age, the WHO suggests 6 months as the earliest that anything other than moms milk should be given to your LO.  As you can imagine these milestones will bring a whole new level of mess to clean up.  You will find food particles everywhere from the creases of their neck to the folds in their chubby little thighs.  At this stage you should use your own discretion, if your LO is messy, give him a bath but no more than 4-5x a week.  It also helps if you simply do a quick wipe down with warm water and a wash cloth after each feeding.

HAIR CARE

Hair care is very simple early on.  Just as the skin needs sebum for moisture, so does your hair.  As noted before it is very important that you don’t strip away these oils.  It is also important that whatever you use doesn’t get into the babies eyes, whether it says tear-less or not.  Especially since the eyes are still in the early stages of development.  I say better to not take chances.  In the beginning you can simply use a wash cloth with warm water, wring it out and wipe the baby’s head during his/her sponge bath.

FullSizeRender (3)

I still do the same thing not that he is in the baby tub.  There is still no need to douse or dunk his head into water.

Once he starts eating foods, which I don’t know how much longer I can prolong.  He so intently watches as I cook or prepare foods.  I’m trying to hold to the saying that “Food before one is just for fun!”.  It’s hard when he is practically yanking the food from my hands.  Solid foods are a monumental step and a very messy one.  You will definitely find food particles on the LO hair and everywhere else you can think of, even places you can’t imagine.  In this case you may need a gentle cleanser to remove the particles.  I use the same soap that I use for his skin since it is very gentle and cleanses very well.  I use a very small amount, so little you can barely see the bubbles, remember less is more! I know you are thinking ‘My gosh did she really say that again?’  Yes…because it is important to reprogram your thought process and that takes repetition. I still use the wash cloth to gently massage the area.  I then rinse the wash cloth and wipe off.

When they get to toddler stage and have a little more hair, there are lots of natural easy options.  You can make your own with castile soap and a little bit of water.  I found a great blog site, Gimmie the Good Stuff and they have a great post on Non-toxic Baby Shampoo, The Good, The Bad & The Sneaky.

BEST MOISTURIZER FOR BABY

So after we give the LO a bath, we have to replenish the oils that we have stripped in the cleaning process.  If you use a good, natural cleanser you will minimize the need to apply moisturizers.  There are tons of natural moisturizers in the form of butters, oils and even waxes.  I try to use ingredients in their raw form before mixing.  For example if you use Sweet Almond Oil and your LO has a reaction to it, then you know to keep ’em away from almonds.  When using products that have numerous ingredients it is hard to tell which ingredient is the culprit.

So far we have used Coconut Oil, Sweet Almond Oil, Jojoba Oil, Avocado Oil, Olive Oil & Shea Butter.  Since I know that he doesn’t react to them, I can mix them interchangeably, depending on his needs.  Coconut oil is by far our favorite, with Jojoba & Avocado coming in close second.  Below is a list of the beneficial moisturizers that nature provides.  This is far from a complete list however these should cover the majority of your LO needs.

  • Apricot Kernel Oil:  The perfect choice for babies, this oil is quite similar to Sweet Almond yet it does not generally pose an allergy risk. This oil is also expeller pressed with a light yellow tint. Odorless and can be used undiluted as a base oil. Shelf life: 2 years.
  • Avocado Oil:  Avocado oil is mild, nourishing, semi-fatty oil, rich in lecithin and vitamins, including A, B and D. It is ideal for relieving itchy, dry and sensitive skin and works well blended with light oils such as Apricot Kernel Oil.  Shelf life: 1 year.
  • Castor Oil:  Castor oil has natural antibacterial and antifungal properties and is high in Vitamin E, minerals, proteins, and Omega 6 and 9 beneficial fatty acids. Its unusually high ricinoleic acid ratio makes it beneficial to skin and hair.  In fact, castor oil has traditionally been used topically for acne and other skin conditions, as well as hair loss, rashes and more.  This is another highly viscous oil and blends well with lighter oils.  Shelf life: 2 years.
  • Coconut Oil: If you want ultra soft, smooth and non-greasy skin, use coconut oil! Highly absorbent, antibacterial and soothing, this oil is perfect for all skin types. You should only use unrefined raw Coconut Oil. Solid at room temperature, this oil is white (clear as a liquid) and smells just like a coconut. The perfect base oil, it can be used 100% undiluted except when needing a liquid-at-room-temperature base, then it should be blended with another oil. Shelf life: 2 years.
  • Jojoba Oil:  Thick and mineral-rich, Jojoba makes a wonderful addition to a carrier oil. However, this oil is not to be used undiluted as it can either be too thick/sticky or slightly irritating. This oil is a deep yellow and generally odorless. Should not make up more than 10% of an oil blend. Shelf life: 2 years.
  • Olive Oil:  Olive oil has long been the standard for herbal alchemy, although this heavy-weight oil is quickly being replaced by more absorbent mediums. This oil is thick, greasy and does not absorb easily. It is best used for conditions that need serious hydrating, like ultra dry hair or skin. Even still, it is best used diluted in another carrier oil, making up 10% of the final product at most. This oil ranges from light yellow to dark green depending on the press and variety. Shelf life: 2 years.
  • Shea Butter:  This vitamin and mineral rich butter comes from the Karite tree in Northern Africa.  It has a distinct nutty smell and is a great addition to any skin care routine.  It has a 6 spf and is generally safe for all skin types as long as it is unrefined.  Word of Caution, Unrefined Shea Butter ranges from ivory to yellow, it will stain clothing.  Simply make sure it is fully soaked in before dressing and use a very small amount.  Shea Butter does pose a risk to those with tree nut allergies or latex allergies, use with caution for young children or anytime where allergies are unknown. Shelf Life: 2 years.
  • Sweet Almond Oil:  A wonderful base oil and highly absorbent Sweet Almond Oil hydrates and softens without clogging pores. This oil is odorless and can be used as a base oil without dilution. Look for expeller pressed oil with a light yellow tint. Sweet almond oil poses a risk to those with nut allergies, use with caution for young children or anytime where allergies are unknown. Shelf Life: 2 years.

Severely Dry, Flaky Skin…better known as Eczema

Eczema affects the skin in flare-ups. Your baby’s skin may have dry and itchy patches of skin most of the time, but during flare-ups, these areas worsen and become inflamed. This happens as his immune systems overreacts to substances he’s allergic to.  Both bottle-fed and breast-fed babies can have eczema.

I won’t turn this into a lesson on nutrition.  I will say that most of the information that I found on eczema states that it is not based on the nutrition of the baby.  I don’t know if I can fully stand behind any of these claims.  Especially since it is  so closely related to allergens.  I do know that breastfeeding is best, if you are able.  It is specifically designed for your baby and it is great for mom’s health too.  I also know that babies that are breastfed can get eczema just like formula fed babies.

That being said if your baby is breastfed and they have eczema, there are many things that can be a factor.  My LO is breastfed and had eczema and digestive issues in his early months.  I went through the whole elimination diet to see what if anything was causing his issues.  I ended up discovering that he had an allergy to dairy.  When I eliminated dairy from my diet his digestive issues and eczema only slightly improved.  It was only after adding pro-biotics to my diet, did his digestive issues clear up, but he still had eczema…

So I was back to the drawing board and very sad that I could no longer eat cheese. I had read somewhere that Vitamin D deficiencies could lead to eczema and other skin related issues.  Made sense to me because he was born right when it started to get cold outside so he had not gotten much sun exposure, neither had I.  Only one week after taking 2000iu of Vitamin D daily, I noticed a drastic reduction in his flakiness and in two weeks his eczema had cleared up completely.

I’m not saying that Vitamin D and Pro-biotics will clear up eczema,  I tell you my story because I am convinced that eczema is linked to deficiency and/or allergies.  If you are breastfeeding please consider an elimination diet along with getting a complete work up from your physician to see if you have any Vitamin or Mineral deficiencies.

If you baby is formula fed, you may want to consider changing the formula that you are using.  I want to emphasize that no matter milk or soy based, formula should be Organic.  Non-organic formulas are mostly made of GMO (Genetically Modified Organisms) ingredients, these cause an entirely different set of issues that I will blog about later.   Below is a list of ingredients that you should always avoid, so do your due diligence and read all labels.

formula

Click Here for an awesome Blog on How to Find the Safest Organic Formula by FoodBabe.com.

Formula-organic

So as usual, what was supposed to be a quick blog has turned into a mini novel.  There is so much information out there and I’ve only helped to scratch the surface here.  I do hope that the information is beneficial for some new mommies out there.  If you have any questions or just want to chat about the info in this blog, please contact me at stephanie@edensbalance.com.

As always please discuss everything with your licensed physician as I am not a physician.  I do think natural is the best way to go but please see full Medical Disclaimer here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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SHEA BUTTER: The Many Uses & Benefits

This blog is long overdue since Shea Butter is both the way Eden’s Balance was incepted and also one of the main ingredients that we use.  So here is a recap of how Eden’s Balance officially started with my boyfriend (at the time) & a 40lb gourd of Shea Butter…

SHEA IN GOURD

I will never forget the day in 2009 that Papa Bear brought home a huge box that contained the largest gourd I had ever seen.  The gourd was filled with a bright yellow buttery substance that I had never even heard of.  He touted it as a miracle for skin, hair and even cooking.  The only concern that he mentioned was the smell and the texture that people, who are conditioned to buy Johnsons & Johnsons, were not very fond of.  Granted…it smelled pretty nutty & earthy to say the least.  However the benefits far out weighed the unpleasant aroma.

KARITE NUT
KARITE NUT

WHAT IS SHEA BUTTER?  Quite possibly Africa’s best kept secret…until more recent years it was not very main stream in the Western World.  Now you hear about Shea benefits everywhere.   Shea Butter comes from a nut produced by the Karite Tree (also known as the Magnifolia tree) that grows wild in savannah regions of West and Central Africa.  The Karite Tree is not farmed, it takes 50 years to mature and lives up to 300 years.   The Karite nut is an important source of food, medicine & income for many African communities.  This little nut is known as “Women’s Gold” because it is an industry mostly employed by women.  How cool is that!?!

WOMEN FROM NORTHERN GHANA
WOMEN FROM NORTHERN GHANA

Shea Butter is the fat that is cooked out of the Karite nut.  Its color can range from ivory to yellow depending on how long it is cooked.  Shea butter has been used for thousands of years to help heal burns, sores, scars, dermatitis, psoriasis, dandruff, and stretch marks. It may also help diminish wrinkles by moisturizing the skin, promoting cell renewal, and increasing circulation. Shea butter also contains cinnamic acid, a substance that helps protect the skin from harmful UV rays.

Shea butter is a particularly effective moisturizer because contains so many fatty acids, which are needed to retain skin moisture and elasticity.   Loaded with Vitamins A, D & E it packs a serious skin healing punch.  It has proven to be an effective barrier for the skin from both environmental & free-radical toxins.

After learning the benefits I had to try this stuff.  I started using it raw at first, it is a bit crumbly & can be messy in this form.  However the benefits far out weight the messy-ness.  So thus my mission to find the perfect mixture of natural oils to still retain the amazing benefits of the Shea Butter and have a user friendly texture and scent.  I spent hours in the kitchen with a hand mixer.  The first batch I used was the ivory Shea Butter.  I don’t care for the ivory Shea Butter scent.   I don’t know for sure but the ivory has a more chemical smell to me.  The huge benefit of the ivory over the yellow is staining as the yellow tends to stain clothes.

To me the more natural scent of the yellow Shea Butter is more appealing. It also seems less processed, this is why I use yellow Shea Butter in all of my products now.

SHEA BUTTER COMES IN IVORY OR YELLOW DEPENDING ON HOW LONG IT IS PROCESSED
SHEA BUTTER COMES IN IVORY OR YELLOW DEPENDING ON HOW LONG IT IS PROCESSED

After several botched batches of Shea Butter,  some so hard you could break a window with and some so over cooked that it was grainy, the perfect formulation was born.  KISS (Keep it Simple Stupid) is a method that I totally believe in and for Shea Butter this is the key.  You want to heat the Shea as little as possible & add only necessary beneficial ingredients that serve a purpose.

SHEA BUTTER USES:

FOOD: In Africa, Shea Butter is used as a source of food.  Since it comes from a plant source it is healthier than any animal fat & rich in vitamins & fatty acids. Shea Butter has a distinctly smoky & nutty taste.  It can be used as a substitute for butter or margarine in baking, simply use quantities called for by the recipe.  It also provides anti-inflammatory benefits.  Spread on toast or pancakes.  Use to sauté veggies on a medium setting.  Use Shea Butter instead of dairy butter or olive oil as a basis for sauce to pour over pasta, rice, meat or vegetables. Shea butter, garlic and green onions make a simple but tasty sauce that dresses up many dishes.

cooking

When using Shea Butter to cook it is imperative that you use only unrefined forms of the butter.  It is impossible to get Organic Shea Butter because it grows wild & is not cultivated.  I have an amazing distributor who I am close friends with so I know I am getting the highest quality Shea Butter possible…unless I were to make it my self of course.  Message me at Stephanie@edensbalance.com if you need to order, I can supply anywhere from 8oz to 20lbs at a time.

SKIN CARE:  The traditional use  is to reduce the appearance of fine lines, scars and stretch marks, and to ease a variety of skin irritations. Makers of cosmetics also mix this natural substance with other botanical ingredients. Shea butter is ideal for the topical application of cosmetic and medicinal formulas, because it melts on contact and is readily absorbed into the skin, without leaving a greasy residue.  Allergies, eczema, dermatitis, wrinkles, stretch marks, burns and abrasions are all common skin conditions that have shown improvement when treated with Shea butter. Shea butter also contains active properties that have been shown to treat insect bites, sunburns and frostbites.

Since 68% of what goes on your skin gets absorbed into your body, it is also important to use unrefined Sea Butter on your skin as well.  Message me to order Stephanie@edensbalance.com

Making your own skin care products with Shea Butter is a great place to start.  It is more than beneficial & very simple.  I won’t lie it can be a bit messy to work with.  In my formulation I use between 80-90% Shea Butter since I don’t want to diminish the already amazing properties too much.  Liquid oils such as Sweet Almond Oil, Avocado Oil, Jojoba Oil & Hemp Seed Oil, to name a few, will mix nicely & give your final mixture a fluffy, smooth, easy to apply whipped texture.  Essential Oils are a great way to get botanical benefits however you can also steep herbs directly in the Shea Butter & drain before mixing.  I always use at least 3% Vitamin E for added benefits & also to keep the mixtures properties in tact longer.  Oils & butters alone will last as long as 1-3 years if no liquids are introduced…always remember, liquid breeds bacteria when mixed with oils & butters.  You can’t always see the bacteria so use extreme caution not to get your butter wet, ever.

If you don’t feel like making your own Shea Body Butters, Eden’s Balance has an amazing formulation with Sweet Almond Oil, Vitamin E, Essential Oils & various other herbal ingredients.  Message me for orders Stephanie@edensbalance.com

Body Butter flavors included: Lavender, Lavender/Vanilla, Oranges & Cream, Lemon Souffle, Tea Tree/Lavender, Peppermint Foot Cream

HAIR CARE:  Shea Butter has been used for generations to maintain twists & locs.  It provides extraordinary moisturizing benefits & is called “mother nature’s conditioner”.  This butter best for thicker, course or dry hair.  It can be used as a deep conditioning treatment or for daily hair & scalp moisture.   If your hair is fine it can be too much for daily use.

Since what you put on your skull get directly absorbed into the fluid around your brain, unrefined Shea Butter is best for hair care too…get the idea…Unrefined Shea Butter Only.

SHEA BUTTER PRECAUTIONS:

While Shea Butter is awesome & amazing…like all things, natural or not, sometimes everything is not good for everyone.  Shea Butter is a Tree Nut…this means…simply put…if you are allergic to Tree Nuts, you may very well be allergic to Shea Nuts as well.  Shea Butter also has properties that mimic natural latex, so if you are allergic to latex you may be allergic to Shea Butter.  Check out the full Medical Disclaimer Here

With these few precautions in mind…enjoy your Shea Butter journey.  Please contact me if you have any questions along the way… Stephanie@edensbalance.com

HOMEMADE GRIPEWATER RECIPE

After a few nights of no sleep and a very unhappy newborn, I finally got the energy to research why my sweet little angel turned into a monster over night.  Ok so he wasn’t a monster but his painful cries and tense little body was scary to say the least.  He looks like Jack from The Nightmare Before Christmas when he is angry.  I learned that colic is a broad term used for fussy babies that is generally linked to digestive issues.  I did another blog all about this that you can check out here.

Gripe water is one of the Mommy Remedies that every mom I know has used.  Many moms tout it as “Mommy’s Miracle”!  I had to learn more about this magical concoction that everyone was speaking of.  Gripe water has been around since 1851 and is considered a traditional medicine to treat colic, intestinal discomfort, hiccups & more.  The ingredients in modern day gripe water are mostly ok, however like most items sitting on store shelves consisted of preservatives & additives.  Here is a breakdown of common ingredients…some great, some not so good…

Safe Ingredients
Aloe vera – alleviates bloating and flatulence.
Anise seeds – promote easy digestion.
Angelica – works great for an upset tummy.
Blackthorn – relieves pain and discomfort due to abdominal cramps.
Caraway seeds – enhance digestion and prevent flatulence.
Cinnamon bark extract – improves the process of digestion and helps get rid of nausea.
Cardamom – relieves nausea and vomiting and promotes easy digestion.
Chamomile – helps maintain the health of the stomach.
Dill extract – helps get rid of nausea, offers relief from flatulence, brings back the sick stomach to normal position.
Fennel – works great for the upset stomach and provides quick relief from cramps.
Ginger root extract – helps prevent indigestion and nausea.
Lemon balm – helps get rid of flatulence.
Peppermint – is required to settle down the stomach as it works great for nausea.
Unsafe Ingredients
Alcohol – It can ruin the bodily systems. Feeding the baby with an addiction inducing element is very dangerous. Alcohol can cause drowsiness.
Charcoal Vegetable Carbon – It lowers the effectiveness of other drugs, which is quite dangerous. It can cause dehydration, swelling or pain in the stomach.
Dairy – The baby can be ‘allergic or intolerant’ to lactose. Lactose can make the baby suffer from excessive gases.
Gluten – The baby can be ‘gluten intolerant’ or ‘allergic to gluten’. Gluten can be harmful for intestinal cells.
Soy – Certain kinds of soy may restrict the body from absorbing nutrients, leading to long-term health problems.
Sodium Bicarbonate (baking soda) – It can affect the health of the baby seriously. It can affect the pH of the stomach, blood pH, functions of nerves and muscles.
Yeast – It promotes storing of fats in the body, making the baby overweight.
Citric Acid – It can be harmful for the delicate digestive system of the baby, in various ways. Excessive consumption of citric acid is harmful even for adults. It can lead to nausea, loose motions and vomiting. It can act like an allergen for some babies.
Read more at Buzzle: http://www.buzzle.com/articles/gripe-water-for-newborns.html
As you can see there are benefits as well as some nasty side effects to using over the counter gripe water.  This is exactly why I decided to create my own.  Here is the recipe that works best for my little man but you can adjust based on the needs or your kiddo from the safe list above.
MY HOMEMADE GRIPE WATER RECIPE
Ingredients:

  • 2 c. distilled water
  • 1 slice (about the size of a quarter) fresh ginger
  • 2 tsp. dried chamomile (or 1 tea bag’s worth)
  • 2 tsp. dried fennel, crushed
  • 1/2 tsp. dried cardamom, crushed
  • 1/2 to 1 tsp. food grade vegetable glycerin or natural sweetener to taste (no honey until baby is over a year old; also avoid no- or low-calorie sweeteners like stevia, xylitol, erythritol, or artificial sweeteners)
  • 1/4 ground cinnamon

Directions:

  1. Bring the water to a boil in a saucepan or tea kettle.
  2. In a muslin bag combine the ginger, chamomile, fennel, and cardamom.  If you do not have a tea bag that is ok but you will have to strain the contents very well to make sure that no small pieces remain in the mixture.
  3. Remove the water from the heat and add the tea bag (or loose herbs).  Allow to steep for about half an hour.
  4. Remove the tea bag (or strain the loose herb).  Add the glycerin or other non-honey sweetener and cinnamon to the tea. Store in an airtight, glass container in the refrigerator or freeze into ice cubes.  I always freeze measured out doses so I can easily administer with a glass bottle.

Dosage:  Do not exceed 6 doses in a 24 hour period

● 0-3 months: 1/2 tsp. (2.5 mL)

● 3-6 months: 1 tsp. (5 mL)

● 6-12 months: 2 tsp. (10 mL)

 

My little guy loves this stuff.  He actually gets mad that he can’t have more.  It actually tastes amazing and I have even tried it for my own digestive issues with great success.  As always do your own research & consult your physician or midwife before administering anything new to your child.  Check out the full medical disclosure here.

 

 

NEWBORN DIGESTIVE ISSUES & COLIC

Starting at about 3 weeks old, my little guy started having the worst time in the evenings.  He would fuss all night long and writhe in agony trying to get out his gas bubbles.  His little face would turn red and every muscle in his tiny body would tense up.  I tried all of the basics…feed, burp, change…to no avail.  I rocked him, swaddled him, cuddled him.  We were dealing with the dreaded “colic”.

Oxford Dictionary defines Colic as: severe, often fluctuating pain in the abdomen caused by intestinal gas or obstruction in the intestines and suffered especially by babies.

All I knew was that I was exhausted and so upset that my little guy was in pain and inconsolable.  Just like every mother all I wanted was for him to feel better and to be able to get some sleep.  I was running on empty and looking like death, I had to find a natural remedy and fast!  I searched all over the internet & got advice from everyone from the Midwife to Grandma.  Here is everything that I learned about newborn digestion & things I tried to help my guy feel better.

Newborn digestion is a tricky thing…Before birth, the digestive tract of the fetus is sterile, but within hours of birth, the baby acquires a complex collection of microorganisms which populate the mouth—then eventually the full length of the tract will be colonized. The development of specific microorganisms is influenced by the exposure to certain factors such as infants diet (breastfed vs. formula), environmental contact, mode of delivery (vaginal vs. cesarean) and the maternal microbiota.   According to new research, a mother’s gut microbiota may transfer and colonise newborn infants intestines in the first few days after birth.  Here is a great article if you want to learn more about the science behind maternal microbiota.

PROBIOTICS:

My Midwife suggested probiotics since my little guy didn’t get a chance to get exposed to maternal microbiota.  His head was only in the birth canal for a short time (check out Baby Kihre’s Birthing Story), 82 minutes from start to finish.   You can give newborns probiotics in two ways.  One is to increase the probiotic intake of the mother.  This will pass to the baby through breast milk.  Some sources of probiotics are fermented foods are Miso, Kefir, Ginger Beer, Tempeh, Fermented Cheeses, Kimchi, Sauerkraut and Kombucha.  The second method is through powder supplements that can be added to breast milk or water.  Parveen suggested Biogaia & HMF Natogen.

FOOD ALLERGIES:

Another source of digestive discomfort can be to food allergies.  There are a variety of food allergies that your baby can be allergic to.  Since I am breastfeeding I had to take a very close look at my diet.  While generally good, I still ate trigger foods that can be linked to allergies in not only babies but adults as well.  Dairy products, eggs, soy, wheat, peanuts, tree nuts…since I am mostly vegetarian I this seriously limited what I could eat.  However it is a blessing in disguise.  These are all foods that I needed to eliminate any how.  This is just a serious kick in the butt to do so and fast.

After eliminating dairy from my diet I noticed that the slimy goo that had been in little mans poo was gone.  It took about two weeks to totally eliminate the effects of the lactose.

Soy, wheat & peanuts were easy to eliminate.  I usually only consume them or bi-products of them when I have my cake, cookie, pie breakdowns.  Since I haven’t been able to detox for about a year now, it has gotten worse.  This chick that mostly eats more like a rabbit than a human, has terrible sweet cravings.  I cannot wait to be able to do a good thorough cleanse but it is totally out of the question while pregnant or breastfeeding.  When I am ready I will do the Ancient Cleanse, it is amazing.

GRIPEWATER

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Gripewater is one of the remedies that other moms swear by.  I have heard it tauted as a “miracle for mommys”.   There are many different brands and some are “better than others” or have less harmful ingredients than others.  So like everything I researched to find the best for my baby and I could not find one that was 100% Free of unnecessary stuff.  Actually most of the products out there are full of bad ingredients.  The least of all of the evils that I found is Mommy’s Bliss Gripewater.  The ingredients are Deionized water, ginger extract, vegetable glycerin, sodium bicarbonate, citrus bioflavonoid extract, citric acid, potassium sorbate and natural fennel flavor.  Sounds pretty harmless right? For the most part yes…however citrus bioflavonoid extract and citric acid are both known to come from GMO sources & potassium sorbate, although said to be one of the safer preservatives is linked to allergic reactions, headaches, diarrhea & nausea.

For one week I used the Mommy’s Bliss, because I was exhausted and I was being lazy, no other excuse.  It helped just like everyone said it would.  He went from 2 hour stretches of sleep to 4 hours.  I was so relieved that he was getting peace and no longer in pain. I also knew that I needed to find out a natural alternative to what was available in the store.  Below is what I used in my homemade gripewater and why.  I have had the same success with my natural version as I have with the store version with preservatives.  Check out the full Homemade Gripewater Recipe here.

  • Ginger. This soothes tummy troubles like gas, indigestion, colic, and diarrhea.
  • Chamomile. This calming flower reduces inflammation and may help baby relax.
  • Fennel. This helps to prevent or reduce gas.
  • Vegetable Glycerin. This adds sweetness to mixture, helps a bit to relieve any constipation, assists in thickening the mixture up a bit, and makes the gripe water last a little longer. Be sure to use food grade vegetable glycerin. If you’re unable to get any (or don’t want to use it), use coconut sugar or another natural sweetener (no honey until baby is over a year old) instead to sweeten the mixture (I also would NOT use any sweeteners like stevia, xylitol, or erythritol as these might only add to the problem).
  • Cinnamon. Combats indigestion and gas.
  • Clove. Helps against bloating and indigestion and also has a mild pain relieving effect.  I didn’t use this in my recipe because I didn’t have it on hand but you can try if you like.

OK SO NOW WHAT

So even after introducing probiotics & eliminating almost every food allergen known to man, he was still having digestive issues.  They had gotten better but I was still not happy with his comfort level…neither was he.  Below are some other ways to help ease your little ones discomfort:

  1. Always feed the baby in an elevated position where his head is above his stomach.  This will help to keep the gas bubbles in the upper digestive tract making it easier to burp rather than come out in the form of gas later.
  2. Burping is so very important and often overlooked, especially during late night feedings.  But if you skip burping, the air bubbles will travel into the lower digestive tract and have no choice but to come out the bottom.  Since the intestines are so long, it is often a painful, long process.  This will cause a sleepless night and a squirmy, fussy baby.
  3. Exercise…Yes! Exercise!  Baby exercises are a great way to help your little one work out gas & help the elimination process.  There are lots of exercises, twists & stretches that will work.  Just remember that the large intestine is on the right side just below the rib cage.  It is important to always twist or stretch the right side first to stimulate the large intestine, then to the left side to help everything move through the small intestine.  Check out the video of Kih’s Poopie Dance.  Yes the Poopie Dance, stay at home moms are weird & have a language all their own.
  4. Massage can help move gas too! Tapping and gently massaging the belly in a rainbow motion from left to right (babies right to left) will help stimulate the intestines and get things moving.  Tapping on the back can help too.   Here is a video of the tapping motion.

    My lil guy likes to be in a down dog position while having his tummy massaged.

  5. Essential Oils, diffused or used topically.  Peppermint is a great essential oil for digestion & Lavender or Chamomile are both great for calming.  I use Peppermint Cream when massaging.  It is actually a foot cream but ti has both peppermint & lavender essential oils.  You should consult with your physician or midwife before using any essential oils on your newborn or child.  I also recommend a skin patch test when using essential oils on anyone for the first time.  Check out our medical disclaimer here.
  6. Warm compresses on the lower abdomen or lower back can help relax and soothe as well as provide acupressure to the tummy.  I use a Lavender Eye Pillow warmed.  Do not over heat as you can burn the baby’s sensitive skin.  Never put the pillow directly on the skin.  I wrap it in a burp cloth and carefully monitor the amount of heat coming through.

All this being said…every child is different, so what works for my little one may not work for yours.  We have been through trial & error, lots of it.  It is good to try one method of comfort for a few days to see if it works.  If it does then continue, if not stop and try other means of comfort.  Sometimes I think that most of our success comes from nothing more than his digestive system maturing.  I will say that patience is the most important virtue.  Staying calm & collected will help your little one feel reassured that everything is going to be ok.  If you are frustrated it will be felt by your baby.  Just remember that you can & will get through this.  Peace is just around the corner.

Totally comment and let us know what has worked for you and your bambinos.

Medical Disclaimer

BABY KIHRE’S BIRTHING TIME

So this blog is way over due.  I was actually hoping to have a video blog done.  To be completely honest the only reason I have not is because I barely have time to do my hair let alone put on make-up for a video.  Since the story is way too cool not to share, here we go…

As most of you know my due dates were all over the place.  Two sonograms at the OB gave a date of date of September 9th and the Hospital sonogram gave me a date of August 28 (which matched my last menstrual cycle)…needless to say…it is all up in the air.  It’s usually difficult to determine the time of conception if you are in a relationship and not writing down every time you get frisky.  We had been dating for years and living together for years.  I calculated closer to Early September because I think the actual conception was while Papa Bear and I were on vacation after the Thanksgiving Holiday.  I saw the rainbow in the sky that I have been seeing for our entire relationship.   You can kinda see it reflecting off the clouds in the photo below.  Papa Bear would tell me later that he saw the same rainbow the day before Kihre was born.

RAINBOW

My intention was to have the baby in my oasis on the back porch.  I had everything ready for his arrival: the birth tub, the sheers, lots of potted plants, mats & everything you could possibly need for a comfortable birth.  Everything was set and ready to go by August 21st…now we waited…and waited…and tried lots of other stuff.  Sad part is that even though I didn’t birth in my oasis, I could see it from my actual birth location.

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As all moms know…the baby comes when the baby wants to come.  “Normal” Gestation for human infants is anywhere between 38-42 weeks.  This is important because when having a home birth, the midwife is only allowed to deliver in that 4 week time frame.  She stands the chance of losing her license if she delivers out side of that time.  This because of possible complications to mother and baby that can arise when the baby comes too early or too late.  So to be safe, we went with the September 9th date to make sure that we “complied”.  Although we knew it could be anytime around the two dates.

To help tone my uterus for my lil guys birthing time I drank Eden’s Balance Feminine Toner Tea.  I sat on the balance ball.  I saw the chiropractor 2x a week.  I never reclined in a chair.  I always slept on my left side…blah, blah, blah…everything you are supposed to do to help the baby get into position & stay in the perfect LOA (Left Occiput Anterior) position.

I did have to discontinue the Feminine Toner Tea because my body is very sensitive to the Red Raspberry and caused me to start losing my mucus plug at 32 weeks.  This isn’t abnormal but isn’t uncommon either.  I continued the rest of my routine and managed to keep him in the right position from week 35 to 40…

That’s right…he was still in there at 40 weeks.  So what does this mean for mom & baby.  Well mom is probably really, really ready to meet her little one & really, really ready to pop.  I know I was, I felt like every day I was putting on more pounds and craving more cake.  As for baby it means that the vernix caseosa (cottage cheesy substance that forms in week 18 and protects the baby’s skin from the amniotic fluid) starts to come off and the baby’s skin is no longer protected.  This will cause the baby to come out “cleaner” when delivered & with dry flaking skin.  The earlier the baby is born, the more vernix will still be on the baby.  Below is a picture of a baby born at 38 weeks gestation with most of its vernix still in tact.  You will see in later pics of Kihre how “clean” he came out compared to the baby pictured below.

Vernix is a white substance that protects the baby's skin from the amniotic fluid & even infection.
Vernix is a white substance that protects the baby’s skin from the amniotic fluid & even infection.

Your little one is also getting heavier & longer.  Don’t worry though, he is just as happy as can be.  Just pay attention to movements, be aware that they will be smaller because he has no space left to move.  He should still be moving.

At approximately 41 weeks I was ready to have the baby by myself in the middle of my bedroom floor if necessary to avoid the hospital.   I decided to start holistic methods of labor induction since going to the hospital was not an option.  After getting the ok from my Midwife, I visited my Acupuncturist, Dr. Choi, for an acupuncture induction.  I can barely understand the guy but I love the results I get everytime I see him…this time was no different.  I went to the office around 12pm on September 11th and had the procedure and went home to continue circles on my balance ball.

By 6pm I started to have pressure waves (contractions), I would only describe them as medium on the intensity scale.  They were 30 minutes apart but what I thought were intense enough to call my birthing team.  I had my Midwife, Doula on standby & two of my girlfriends at the house for comfort.  I was ready to get this baby out!  By this time Papa Bear & I had not been together for 4 months and we had decided to only peacefully co-parent.  For reasons that I will not get into in this blog I wasn’t planning on him being there for the delivery so I didn’t tell him that I was trying to induce naturally.  Little did I know, Kihre had other plans…because he waited until Papa Bear got back from his business trip to arrive.

By 12pm the pressure waves were still 30 minutes apart & I was exhausted.  Since I was able, I decided to get some rest and see what happened.  By 11am the next morning they had stopped completely and my lower back was killing me.  My Doula, Amy with Rosebud Doula, informed me that this was because the baby had adjusted his position and was no longer in the optimal position.

The best advice that my Doula gave me: When you feel pressure waves in your lower back, simply lift up your tummy firmly and tuck your pelvis.  It helps the baby position himself easier.  Thank you for this bit of info Amy!  It actually ended up starting my birthing time but I am getting ahead of myself.

I had only a few pressure waves over the next day.  Then SURPRISE! On Sunday morning guess who was watching TV on the couch when I woke…yep…Papa Bear.  I was kind of fuming that news of my coming birthing time had gotten out.  I am however very glad that it did, but I will get to why shortly.  The rest of the day I only had approximately 5-7 pressure waves, all only mildly intense.

My next course of action was to see the Chiropractor, Jill with Momentum Chiropractic on Liberia Ave  (love my Chiropractor).  Chiropractic adjustments are known to help the baby get into the LOA position.  I figured even if it didn’t get him out, it would surely help put my rib back into place (he kicked it every day for the last 6 weeks he was in there…owe).  My appointment with Jill was at 11am.  I had my normal adjustment and went home to wait again.

By 4pm there was no change so I decided to lay down and take a nap.  I remember thinking that nothing was going to get this kid out.  I woke up abruptly at 4:48 and headed to the bathroom, which was my most unfavorite place in the world since I spent to so much time peeing.  I went potty as usual but this time there was a huge glob of mucus plug, not streaks or even spots like in the previous weeks.  Anytime now I thought.  Still no strong pressure waves.  I washed my hands and headed out to my bedroom.  I looked at the clock and it was 4:50.

Right then I had the strongest pressure wave that I had had so far.  I lifted my belly & tucked my pelvis.  Immediately his head locked & loaded into position.  All I could do was drop down to my hands & knees…and crawl to my balance ball.  I laid my head on my ball for support and looked at the clock again…4:55 uhoh…another wave was coming….”OHHHHHHHHH, AHHHHHHH, OHHHHHHHHHH” were the only sounds I could get out.

By this time it was 5:20 and I remember thinking oh god…how will anyone know what is going on if I can’t even say anything…My oldest son was in his bedroom right next to mine and Papa Bear was in the living room.  I figured my best bet was to yell my son’s name as loud as I could.  Luckily he got Papa Bear before he came to me.

I managed say with labored breathing “Call Parveen, It’s Time, Now!”.

Parveen is my Midwife with Birth Traditions Midwifery.  I knew by that time it was already way past time to call.  Luckily he had heard the intensity of my moans & had already sprung into action calling all the numbers on the call list.  Unfortunately he called the Midwifes home number and not her cell phone.  Luckily he did get through to the Doula who was able to contact the Midwife and another backup Doula, this was all just in the nick of time since my the birth was progressing along very quickly.

The whole time my awesome & amazing oldest boy was sitting by my side with a cold wash cloth and holding my hand.  He was so calm and I am so proud that he was able to see the things that he did and still remain clam & in control.  He was a great help.

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At 5:45 my water broke. I still had on my yoga pants when I felt this huge gush that in my mind sounded like a gigantic balloon popping.  I later asked the kiddo if he heard it and he said no he didn’t hear anything.  I guess it was the sensation that gave me the impression of the noise.  By this time I was in a totally different place than anyone else in the room.  I could feel that it was almost time to start pushing.  Here we were…go time and it was still just the boys & I…that was the only terrifying part.  Especially since Papa Bear was frantic even though he really did try to remain calm.  I was fine with the thought of getting him out by myself (I had to do that anyways) but none of us were prepared for what to do once the baby actually came out.

Around 6:00 I had to push, it couldn’t wait any longer.  I reached my hand around and felt his head along with some other gooey substance that I am glad that I did not see (later they said it was just membrane from the amniotic sac).  Papa Bear had washed his hands & arms and was ready to delivery the baby himself.  He later told me that he wanted to put me in the car and take me to the ER.  Hah…good luck getting a pregnant woman into a car in the late stages of labor, I couldn’t even make it to my back porch.

I recall thinking how lucky that I had previously given birth and remembered the sensation of burning when you push and your skin is not ready.  I had to slow down even though the sensation to push was so strong.  This is what prevented me from tearing my perineum.

All I could say was “PLEASE, SOMEBODY HELP ME!”. I was so worried that Papa Bear would have to catch my lil guy when he popped out.  Although he has lots of birth experience it has never been this hands on.  He would say later that this one will go down in the record books as the most exciting, fascinating & frightening.

One more push and his head was out.  By this time I was swimming in the euphoric cocktail of hormones that were being produced by my body.  This was something that I had not felt when I gave birth the first time.  Unfortunately when medically induced and on epidural the body isn’t able to create the correct mix of hormones to put you in LaLa land.  I was in a place of complete Vulnerability & total Power.  It is a feeling that is very hard to describe and I recommend that every woman experience it if she is able…Very Empowering!

At this time the Doula arrived.  The timing couldn’t have been more perfect because the baby’s hand was stuck on my pelvis.  She had to insert her fingers to help it move through.  That was most possibly the most intense part of the birthing time outside of the initial burning.  Once she moved his hand, I pushed and he slid right out at 6:22.

By this time I was exhausted.  I had been on my hands & knees for the entire 82 minutes.  This was the moment that I actually noticed that the Doula was not Amy and a back up named Marilyn.  Luckily it was Marilyn since she was well versed in how to get his little hand out of the way.  The delivery could have been much longer had she not been there.  I had to apologize to Marilyn since I called her Amy the entire time.  Told you I was in LaLa Land.

The Midwife arrived shortly after he came out.  It was a great relief for me when she arrived.  I knew everything was fine but having her there to check everything gave me peace of mind.  I don’t remember who but Papa Bear or the Midwife passed my little guy to me under my legs as I sat on the floor.   It was the first time I had rested and the first time I saw him…the most precious little old soul.  It is amazing how you fall in love immediately and any pain that you were in melts away.  I held him in my arms and stared down on this little perfect combination of me and his father.

I moved from the floor to the bed with assistance from Papa Bear.  I wasn’t sore or in pain just very tired so I did need help.  My little guy was still connected to me for a while as the placenta continued to beat.  I held him for what seems like 30 minutes but time had stopped for me so I don’t know if that is accurate.  It was so nice to take my time with our first introduction.  My oldest had been taken from my arms minutes after being born and the placenta cut while still beating.  I will get into the importance in another blog…

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After the placenta stopped beating, Papa Bear had the honor of cutting the cord.

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He got to hold the baby for the first time when It was time for me to deliver the placenta.  He is so proud to have a son that is his spitting image.

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I did have some trouble getting my placenta out.  It is amazing how tired your body is after birth, it is like you just ran a marathon while standing in place.  I finally just imagined pushing and it falling out.  It worked even though everything was numb and I couldn’t even feel the sensation of the pushing.  It is in the deep freezer now waiting to be dehydrated & encapsulated.

Everything from that evening was pretty much a blur…overall our birthing time was perfect.  Little man came out weighting 7.5lbs & measuring a whopping 22″ long.  His APGAR Score was 8 at delivery and 5 minutes after he was a 9.  He had only minor symptoms of his late arrival.  He was very clean when he came out since the vernix had all come off.  His skin was a bit cracked on the creases (fixed that right up with olive oil.  They also attribute his length to his extra time in the womb. Most babies are between 19″-21″ when born.

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So although I did not birth in the water as expected and I almost birthed unassisted, everything was perfect.   During my Hypnobabies studies they emphasize that your birthing time will be exactly perfect for you and your baby.  If you keep that in mind and remain flexible with your birthing plans everything will go much smoother.  I would have loved to be able to tell everyone what it is like to have the baby outside and in the water…I even wanted to have pictures and video but since he came out in 82 minutes from start to finish, none of that happened.  All I have is a perfect little angel and a cool birthing story.

In conclusion I would totally recommend a natural home birth as well as the idea of getting to the water tub in time.  Hypnobabies was very helpful, I would recommend to everyone that isn’t familiar with meditation.  Definitely look into Birth without Fear and just remember how strong and powerful you are!!  Good luck & please contact me with any questions or comments…

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