The Secrets to a Healthy Pregnancy

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Weaning

Mila is playing with Bella, her cousin, and my mom. Meanwhile, I’m hiding in the guest room with two bags of frozen vegetables over my chest. I’m also crying. Mila has weaned from nursing, my body hasn’t fully realized it, and something in me still yearns it.

About six months ago, I began explaining to Mila that when she turned two years old she would stop drinking my milk. My goal was always to nurse until she was two. But the last months were harder during times when I felt like I wanted privacy and to feel like my body was my own and not my baby’s.

Mila’s 2nd birthday was yesterday. I was expecting bedtime to be difficult since she still nursed at night and sometimes we would co-sleep. Last night was tough but not as rough as it could’ve been. I put her to sleep with difficulty but it didn’t take that long. She did wake up twice in the middle of the night asking for milk. I had to say no and rock her, bounce her, sing to her, and shush her to sleep (almost simultaneously). Even though this is what I want, it is so hard. Just writing this makes me cry all over again.

I had been nursing for almost 4 years straight. That’s right, it’s a long time. I first nursed Bella and when I got pregnant again I continued nursing her even after Mila was born. Once Bella turned two, I weaned her. It wasn’t this hard then. Perhaps because I still had another baby to care for.

Nursing creates a bond between mother and baby that is special. I remember the times I nursed Mila. She would become so excited when she would nurse, especially after a long and busy day. I would stare into her happy eyes and indulge in our love. The majority of times she would relax and fall asleep. Those were the best.

The other day I took a picture of Mila’s eyes while she was nursing. She was expressing so much gratitude in her eyes that they were almost sparkling. I’m so glad I took that picture because it’s our only one like that.

If you’re nursing your baby, enjoy those moments. You may become frustrated at times because his or her nursing schedule conflicts with your to-do-list. I’ve been there. But those sweet moments don’t last forever, so cherish them. Take it from a mom that doesn’t get to do it anymore perhaps for some time or even forever.

A part of me wishes I could nurse Mila at least one more time but I know she doesn’t need it now and it will only create confusion. I know that in the long term–for us–it is best that we leave nursing behind us and develop a new way to bond intimately. I’m looking forward to hugging her in bed and cuddling without milk being involved. I’m looking forward to many things as my little girl grows up. Keeping that in perspective will keep my eyes bright and cheeks tear-free.

Keep me in prayer these next couple of nights, would you?

With an open heart,

Maria

The World Health Organization promotes nursing your baby at least until the age of two or as long as mommy and baby both want to. In my book “The Secrets to a Healthy Pregnancy” I prepare moms to breastfeed successfully and give tips to help in the process.

#weaning #nursing #breastfeeding #pregnancy #motherhood #healthypregnancy #tandemnursing

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Frustrated?

This post is for anyone struggling with frustration.

Here are five statements in the form of the acronym FAITH to help ease your frustrations. I wrote them down when I felt frustrated myself. Hope they help you during a difficult time.

“F” is for focus: You cannot control your circumstances but you can control how you let them affect you. Focus on what you can control and leave the rest to God.

“A” is for acceptance: Ignorance and lack of judgment is a part of this world. Accept that there’s plenty of it and protect yourself through the pursuit of knowledge and wisdom. But, always remember that no matter how much we know there is still so much we don’t.

“I” is for involvement: Sometimes all you can do is be there. Don’t get involved. Don’t try to fix it. Just be there.

“T” is for Thankfulness: Don’t dwell on what’s wrong, but instead count your blessings. It’s easy to get caught up on what needs fixing, but if we stop and realize all the good in our life we will see our problem for what it is: something small that is probably not worthy of robbing us our joy.

“H” is for hope: You can’t help someone that doesn’t want help. Choose to forgive and move on with hope of a better future. It’s better for you anyways. Perhaps one day they will come to their senses.

My FAITH propels me to keep going even in the toughest times. It has a lot to do with perspective. I hope these insights were helpful to you. Sometimes we all need a little reminder.

What helps you fight frustration? Let me know! I’d like to keep in touch.

Love,

Maria

Need help with stress? Check out my post Winning the War Against Stress

Cod Liver Oil and Probiotics for Children

Hi Families,

These are the supplements I use for my girls. I started using the Carlson’s Cod Liver Oil to transition from the Vitamin D Drops I used while I was exclusively breastfeeding (for the first six months). Using this brand is a more natural alternative than using synthetic versions of Vitamin D that are commonly given away as samples. 

For more information on the importance of Vitamin D check out The Secrets to a Healthy Pregnancy and in the Bonus Chapter: Healthy Babies. 

I also give them probiotics to help them in their digestion process and increase their good bacteria. The girls love them and call them “candy.” 

Please post your questions and comments. I really enjoy them. 

Love,

Maria

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Healthier baths

I use these dechlorination Vitamin C tablets when I bathe the girls. I wasn’t sure how much they worked but I knew it could only help. 

The other day, we didn’t add the tablets and we let the water linger in the tub like we usually do (until the end of the night when I flush it out). I walked in the bathroom and I could smell the chlorine in the water. We repeated the circumstance again when someone else bathed the girls and the same thing happened. The smell of chlorine filled the bathroom. 

I have been using these tablets since I learned of the effect of chlorine in the skin, around the time I was pregnant with my first born Bella. 

I also use Vitashower’s Vitamin C filter on the shower head. It works on most shower heads. 

This is a healthy tip from my family to yours.

Love,

Maria

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How to Get Rid of This Stomach Bug Naturally

It’s been more than 24 hours since JC and the girls were hit by this aggressive stomach bug/virus that’s going around. Many of you are dealing with it at home. Here is this post to help you get rid of it. 

It includes what I did to prevent it (in my case), treat it, and eliminate it (for JC and the girls). I have included tips from other dear mothers who also care for the more natural.

Prevention

1- Drink water proactively (or my yummy recipe in item 2 of the next section) and keep activity level to a minimum so you’re body is better able to fight against the virus/bacteria. 

2- Kefir with raw honey and cinnamon / probiotics (good bacteria to boost your system/ overcome bad bacteria). 

3- My friend Carey recommends grape juice. I got organic 100% Concord grape juice, no sugar added. Even though grape juice has a lot of sugar naturally, there is science behind this recommendation so don’t discard it. In essence, the grape juice changes the PH level in your tract so the virus can’t survive and it boosts your body with anti-viral chemicals. It works! 

4- My friend Maureen recommends Apple Cider Vinegar in water to alkalize the body so the virus won’t thrive. 2 teaspoons in 1 cup of water 3 times a day. 

5- I went to the chiropractor yesterday so I would have to add: Get adjusted! This way, your immune system and body are functioning at its full potential. 

If you begin feeling symptoms, implement these next steps…

For support during vomiting and loose stools 

In the case of viruses you pretty much have to let your body get rid of it. It typically lasts 24-48 hours. 

1- First, try fasting

Cut all foods and drink little fluids to stay hydrated. Your body is repelling the bug so anything you eat is likely to come out quickly (either up or down). Definitely no sugars or breads, since bacteria feeds from these and sugars suppress your immune system. 

2-Stay hydrated

Use my version of Gatorade or Pedialyte: 1 cup of coconut water, 1 teaspoon of raw honey, and 1 pinch of salt. It’s surprisingly tasty. I also added a banana since it was my breakfast but this is optional.

3- Teas and Organic Apple Sauce

My friend Leilani (a registered nurse) recommends organic apple sauce with teas. “Try some organic applesauce and some teas (chamomile or ginger) no caffeine. Start with sips of liquid 1/2 oz every 30 minutes. If they throw up wait 1-2 hours before trying again.”

4- Homeopathy

I called my naturopath and she recommends Nux Vomica (I got the Hylands brand, 4 tablets under the tongue 4 times a day) and Slippery Elm (1 teaspoon with 1 cup of water). I started these two things this afternoon. 

If fever occurs

1- Garlic Socks 

Bella got a fever. I immediately made Carey’s recipe for garlic socks: coconut oil, garlic, thieves oil, tea tree oil, lavender. It’s really easy. Just mix 3 tablespoons of coconut oil and 3 garlic cloves in the food processor. Then in a separate container add the oils (7 drops of each, optional). I waited until Bella was asleep and I massaged her feet and covered them with socks, I also rubbed it on her back up and down across her spine and on her center area above her ribs. 

2- Calcium Lactate

I also dissolved 3 pills of Calcium Lactate in water for Bella to drink throughout the night. I took a little bit of the water with the calcium and placed it on her head with my hand to cool her off as she slept. 

These two things, along with prayer, began decreasing the fever consistently. In the morning, her fever was gone. 

After the vomit and diarrhea have subsided

Introduce foods slowly. Start with Baby foods like banana (1/2 and see how it goes), or banana.  

I had my first real meal today a couple of hours ago and it went well. 

A note to my friends that breastfeed: You don’t need to stop nursing your child. It’s actually best that you continue, so that you pass the antibodies to your baby and actually help him or her fight the disease. 

I hope we can all be out of the woods soon. 

Love,

Maria


Study Encourages Breastfeeding

ENCOURAGING results for MOMS that breastfeed and moms-to-be! 

Here are our Top 3 highlights of the study:

1) The World Health Organization estimates that approximately 800,000 lives would be saved annually if every child were breast-fed within an hour of being born, were breast-fed exclusively for the first six months of life, and continued to be breast-fed for two years. 

2) Prolonged breast-feeding not only increases intelligence until at least the age of 30 years but also has an impact both at an individual and societal level by improving educational attainment and earning ability.

3) Children who were breast-fed for a year or longer added close to four points to their IQ score and were also more likely to have completed an additional year of education compared with children who breast-fed for just a few months. The longer a child was breast-fed, the greater the benefits: Monthly salaries were 33% higher for those who breast-fed the longest.

Read more on the study at http://editors.takepart.com/article/2015/03/18/brazil-breastfeeding-study?cmpid=tp-internal-taboola

3 Comments in Pregnancy

How to Prepare for Labor

Labor is exciting! The element of the unknown—when it will begin, where will you be, or what will you be doing—makes your heart beat a little bit faster. And then this soothing thought makes you smile, that as the day approaches, as each contraction hits, you will be closer and closer to holding your beautiful baby in your arms.

Here are five elements from our book The Secrets to a Healthy Pregnancy to help you prepare for that memorable day.

  1. Make your nutrition a top priority daily. Make sure you are eating well and staying hydrated. A healthy momma translates into a healthy baby and childbirth. The nutrients you consume flow into your blood that is then pumped into the placenta so your baby can receive them. This means that your baby is essentially eating what you are eating, so make sure you are instilling healthy eating habits early on. Check out Chapter 2 and 3 of book for nutritional guidelines.
  2. Sleep twice a day. A study concluded that nap duration and 24-hour sleep duration were inversely associated with labor duration in women with vaginal delivery. This means that the more the women rested during pregnancy, the shorter their births were. So, if you want to have a short labor, make sure you nap and/or sleep plenty. [1]
  3. Exercise three times a week. To experience the benefits of exercising (which include a less painful and shorter birth) studies show that you must exercise almost every day for at least 30 minutes. I recommend a goal of at least 3 times a week so you can gain momentum. Make sure to include squats and kegels to strengthen your pelvic muscles and help you push.
  4. Make sure you get these four key areas of your body checked by a chiropractor. 1) your atlas (the top vertebrae of your neck) 2) your sacrum (the lower end of your back) 3) pelvis 4) pubic bone. Being aligned will help you labor with less pain and your baby descend better. You can find a list of recommended chiropractors that have undergone additional training to better serve mothers and children at icpa4kids.com.
  5. Work on the five aspects of your birth plan. You may want to attend a natural childbirth class like Birthing from Within or the Bradley Method if you want a natural birth. Chapter 11’s Part 3 of the book helps you create the right birth plan for you and your family based on these five questions.
    • Who will deliver your baby?
    • Where will you deliver your baby?
    • Who is on your birthing team?
    • What interventions are you comfortable with?
    • What protocol is important to you?

Learn how to create your birth plan and much more in The Secrets to a Healthy Pregnancy. Available here, on Amazon, and Barnes and Noble.

To your health!

Maria

[1] Shao-Yu Tsai, Jou-Wei Lin, Lu-Ting Kuo, Chien-Nan Lee, and Carol A. Landis, “Night- time Sleep, daytime Napping, and Labor Outcomes in Healthy Pregnant Women in Taiwan,” Research in Nursing & Health 36, no. 6 (2013): 612-22, doi:10.1002/nur.21568.

Uncovering the Most Kept Secret to a Healthy Pregnancy

I received a question last week about how to prepare for pregnancy, or what I call “Preheating the Oven.” In the past, we have discussed the importance of visiting a naturopath to help in fertility and pregnancy, getting in shape before conceiving, and today we will discuss Chiropractic, one of The Secrets to a Healthy Pregnancy.

Getting checked by a chiropractor is just as important in preparation for conception. What if I don’t have back pain, should I still get checked out? Yes! You are about to embark on a journey that leads to a marathon race. Pregnancy is time for you and your baby to prepare, develop, and train for that day when you will finally meet outside of your womb, through the beautiful process of labor. Just like athletes use chiropractors to stay well, perform better, and not just for the occasional injury, chiropractic is a resource that will keep you pain free and stronger so you and your baby remain healthy.

Visiting a chiropractor before conception will begin strengthening all the systems in your body so that you remain strong once you conceive, and subsequently throughout your pregnancy. It will keep your spine healthy so it can support you and your spinal cord as your body changes and your baby grows. This will also minimize your risk of pregnancy discomforts like the pelvic girdle pain, SPD (symphysis pubic dysfunction), and pubic bone pressure. Lastly, through the use of the Webster Technique chiropractors help breech babies so they can turn naturally and you can avoid a C-section if you desire.

You can find a list of recommended chiropractors that have undergone additional training to better serve mothers and children at http://www.icpa4kids.com. Read more on chiropractic and how it relates to your immune system, pregnancy, and labor in Chapter 7 of our book The Secrets to a Healthy Pregnancy. You will also find information on how to choose a good chiropractor and a complete guide for preconception, pregnancy, and bouncing back to your pre-pregnancy body after you deliver. You can get it on paperback and audio book at our store, and on paperback at Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble.

To your health!

Maria

 

 

Recommended Chiropractors:

Vivify Miami, FL

Bartell Chiropractic Life Center, Deerfield Beach, FL

Life Family Chiropractic (Guaynabo, Puerto Rico)

 

Check out:

10 Things You May Not Know About Chiropractic

4 Comments in Breastfeeding

Does what I eat affect my breast milk?

Some experts say that you can basically eat whatever you want and your milk will be fine—that our bodies are very forgiving. Other experts say that what you eat does matter since your diet affects your blood and this is where your body pulls its nutrients to produce milk.

The short answer is that what you eat does matter. Just ask any mom whose baby experienced diarrhea or painful pooping episodes after she ate “something.”

How is breast milk made?

Breast milk is made from what you eat, drink, and consume that ends up in your (the mom’s) blood, not what is in your stomach or digestive track. This means that gas or undigested meals don’t pass to your milk only what reaches your blood does. However, there is a likelihood that whatever makes you, or your baby’s father, gassy may also make your baby gassy, due to inherited allergies or food sensitivities.

Breast milk and your baby’s gut

Your breast milk coats your baby’s gut. This is one of the benefits of breastfeeding, since this coating then prevents microscopic food particles from “leaking” through to your baby’s bloodstream. A “leaky gut” is more common in a formula-fed baby.[1]

When food is leaked from the gut and into the blood stream, your white blood cells detect a foreign substance and attack it. This attack can cause allergic reactions hat are sometimes painful, they range from diarrhea, sore bottoms, runny noses and eyes, rashes and eczema, or a crying, sleepless baby.

Should I avoid spicy foods?

It depends. I wouldn’t introduce spicy foods early on because of the risk of causing discomfort to a newborn. If you want to eat a spicy food, and you don’t have a history of sensitivity to it, I would do so in moderation and monitor your baby’s reaction to it.

How do I know if my baby has a food sensitivity?

Your baby may have a food sensitivity is he or she becomes fussy or uncomfortable after feedings, has trouble sleeping, and wakes up abruptly. Your baby’s cry may be sharp and sudden as if he or she is in pain. You may notice a skin reaction, wheezing, congestion, or green, mucous stools, which could indicate a food allergy.

The majority of babies grow out of most food sensitivities within several months to a year. Consider visiting a naturopath or Naet Physician to treat the allergy. Bella was a toddler when I realized she had a sensitivity to eggs and gluten that would cause frequent colds. We treated them successfully in a couple of visits using NAET.

What could be the cause of your baby’s sensitivity?

Keep a food journal to help you pinpoint a problem food. Record what you ate and any symptoms in your baby.

  • Cow’s milk products, soy, wheat, corn, eggs, citrus, and peanuts in your diet are common allergens in babies.
  • Any food that a family member is allergic to
  • A food that mom recently ate a large amount of
  • A new food (if baby’s symptoms are new)
  • A food that mom doesn’t like, but is eating while breastfeeding (and/or ate while pregnant) for the benefit of her baby
  • A food that mom craves, or feels she has to have after a bad day

Do I need extra calories?

According to KellyMom.com (one of my favorite resources for breastfeeding information), most healthy breastfeeding women maintain an abundant milk supply while taking in 1800-2200 (or more) calories per day. Listen to your body if you don’t want to count calories. Eating when you are hungry and drinking while your thirsty may be a good enough guide for you. I like tracking my calories with the My Plate app.

Do I need more water?

Water consumption is important during pregnancy and breastfeeding. The Institute of Medicine notes that the median amount of fluids typically consumed by breastfeeding mothers is 13 cups, compared 10 cups for pregnant women, and 9 cups for non-pregnant/non-lactating women. This doesn’t mean you need to force down liquids but be intentional about keeping hydrated during the day, and choosing water over sugary drinks.

What about caffeine?

In Breastfeeding: A Guide For the Medical Profession (fifth edition), by Ruth A. Lawrence, M.D. and Robert M. Lawrence, M.D., page 369, the authors write:

“With a given dose of caffeine that is comparable to that in a cup of coffee, the level in the milk is low, (1% of level in mother) and the level in the infant’s plasma is also low. However, caffeine does accumulate in the infant.”

This means that one cup of coffee may not have a big effect on your baby in that moment but it does accumulate, since your baby doesn’t yet have the capacity to process caffeine at the newborn stage and slowly gains capacity starting at 3 months of age. I chose to skip the coffee and limit the chocolate since I wanted my baby to sleep at night. Caffree Roma and decaffeinated herbal tea lattes are great alternatives to coffee.

Chocolate contains theobromine which can act like caffeine in both the mother’s and baby’s systems. Determine what works best for you and your baby by testing small amounts. Check out the tables on BabyCenter for caffeine amounts in coffee, herbal teas, soft drinks, and desserts.

How about one occasional drink?

La Leche League’s The Breastfeeding Answer Book (pp. 597-598) says:

“Alcohol passes freely into mother’s milk and has been found to peak about 30 to 60 minutes after consumption, 60 to 90 minutes when taken with food. Alcohol also freely passes out of a mother’s milk and her system. It takes a 120 pound woman about two to three hours to eliminate from her body the alcohol in one serving of beer or wine…the more alcohol that is consumed, the longer it takes for it to be eliminated. It takes up to 13 hours for a 120 pound woman to eliminate the alcohol from one high-alcohol drink. The effects of alcohol on the breastfeeding baby are directly related to the amount the mother consumes.”

This means if you want to have a glass of wine or beer (a low alcohol drink) you need to wait about 2 hours before breastfeeding, but you do not need to pump and dump your milk. Pumping and dumping is not effective since for as long as the alcohol is in your blood, it will continue to be in the milk that you produce.

Hope this article was helpful to you!

To your health!

Maria
PS

Check out our latest video on YouTube here!

References:

http://kellymom.com/nutrition/mothers-diet/mom-diet/

http://www.parents.com/baby/breastfeeding/basics/avoid-foods-while-breastfeeding/

http://www.livestrong.com/article/501339-does-what-you-eat-affect-your-breast-milk/

http://www.llli.org/faq/alcohol.html

[1] LLL.org

No Comments in Pregnancy, Women's Health

7 Natural Ways to Heal from a Yeast Infection

Pregnancy increases the hormone estrogen. Yeast (or candida, the fungus that causes vaginal yeast infection) has been found more frequent in women with high estrogen due to increased sugar levels in vaginal secretions.

Here is a post to heal from yeast infections naturally. Antibiotics are a popular fix, but they are also the one of the most common causes of a vaginal yeast infection. So it seems that this “cure” is also a cause, which leads to a never-ending cycle. This is why instead of antibiotics the first tip will be quite the opposite.

1- Take Probiotics

You have good bacteria or flora (called Lactobacillus) in your body and vaginal area that help keep your PH and yeast level healthy. Pregnancy changes your PH, but increasing your intake of these good bacteria can bring you back to healthy levels.

According to WebMD (italics added for emphasis), “Probiotics are live bacteria and yeasts that are good for your health, especially your digestive system. We usually think of bacteria as something that causes diseases. But your body is full of bacteria, both good and bad. Probiotics are often called “good” or “helpful” bacteria because they help keep your gut healthy.”

I recommend taking Nature’s Sunshine Lactobacillus Acidophilus between meals to maximize absorption. Supplementation is many times what is needed to bring back optimal balance since bacteria found in the yogurt we typically consume may not be enough (Yes, there is good bacteria in yogurt!). Each capsule of this supplement contains a minimum of 100 million organisms, freeze-dried to maintain viability. Store them in a freezer or refrigerator for best preservation.

2- Manage your PH level

My midwife Sheila would test my urine’s PH at every check up with these little papers. The PH ranges from 0 (very acidic) to 14 (very basic). An optimal PH level is one that is slightly acidic so that good bacteria can survive. Since pregnancy drives us to drink a lot of water our OH level can become basic, so adding lime to your water is a great supplement. Also, cranberry juice (without added sugars) is a good alternative, since it contains naturally acidic compounds. It has also been used to both prevent and treat urinary tract infections for a very long time.

3- Use Coconut Oil. Coconut Oil has antiviral, antimicrobial, and antifungal health benefits. Laboratory tests have concluded it has the ability to explode the nucleus of Candida yeast cells, while allowing the good bacteria to survive.[1] It also relieves irritation and inflammation. Apply coconut oil to your vaginal area for relief and treatment after you shower and up to three times per day (ideally once you have washed and dried). You can also add it to your smoothies for an immune boost.

4- Kill the Yeast. Yeast (candida) needs sugar to build its cell walls, which are comprised 80% of carbohydrates.[2] Starving the yeast will slow its growth and bring your flora back to a healthy balance. Now a day we consume a lot of sugar in the form of breads, salad dressings, and sports drinks, among others. Decreasing, and if possible even abstaining from these sugars, will help you get rid of the infection.

5- Boost your immune system. Here is a quick list on how to boost your immune system: get enough sleep, drink at least 8 glasses of water a day, abstain from alcohol and tobacco, spend some time in the sun to increase vitamin D, eat and juice fruit and vegetables with low sugar levels, like green chard, kale, celery, spinach, berries, ginger, garlic, use beets with leaves to sweeten. You may also try a natural supplement like Immuplex by Standard Process. I took 2 capsules for breakfast and lunch during pregnancy. You can also check out this post for more ways to boost your immune system.

6- Care after your V-area. Keeping your genital area clean and dry will help prevent and combat infection. Proper care of your vaginal area is key, especially after exercising, going to the pool/beach, and after sex. Make sure you wash or shower and change into clean, cotton underwear as soon after as possible. 98-100% cotton is best for everyday.

7-Watch out for your bath soap. Many common soaps contain harsh chemical agents that can irritate and can disrupt a healthy vaginal PH. I like Dr. Bronner’s Baby Mild Soap (a little on a sponge goes a long way) but you can use another baby soap that is mild and unscented.

Hope this helps you stay healthy! Please send any questions my way.

Love,

Maria

PS

Remember to check out our book The Secrets to a Healthy Pregnancy, available on Amazon and in our store.

References:

Causes of Yeast Infections

Pregnancy Hormones and Their Effects

PH Scale

[1] http://homeremediesforlife.com/coconut-oil-for-yeast-infection/

[2] http://www.thecandidadiet.com/why-does-candida-need-sugar/