YUM! Milk Boosting Horchata

We’ve taken a timeless Mexican Horchata recipe and adapted it to support lactation in new mothers.  By substituting the rice for oats and using a plant-based milk, this recipe may be helpful with milk production in breastfeeding mothers.

Enjoy!

 

Ingredients:

1 1/3 cup of uncooked oats

5 cups of water

1 cup of coconut, rice, or almond milk

1/2 T vanilla extract

2 cinnamon sticks

1/3 cup of sugar (more or less to taste)

 

Directions:

1. Place 2 cups of water, oats, and cinnamon sticks in the blender until the oats and cinnamon sticks are roughly ground.

2. Add additional water and place mixture in the fridge to soak overnight (or 4 hours minimum).

3. Strain mixture and discard solid contents.

4. Add vanilla, milk, and sugar.

Serve cold.

 

**This recipe is not intended as a fix for supply issues or breastfeeding challenges.  For mothers struggling with breastfeeding or milk production, we encourage you to reach out to one of our recommended IBCLCs for guidance and support.** 

Postpartum Herbal Bath: Nourishing baby, body, and mind

postpartum herbal bath

If you’ve been following any birth or newborn photographers on social media, you’ve likely seen the gorgeous images of a mom and her new baby soaking in a tub of tea-colored water.  There are usually rose petals or orchids floating on the surface and a blissed-out mom and baby relaxed and soaking up the nourishing water and relaxing scents.

As you can imagine, growing a baby and giving birth are hard work.  Women are practicing self-care by utilizing the healing and relaxation properties of a postpartum herbal bath.  Postpartum herbal bath, chocked full of herbs that fight inflammation and promote healing in the skin and tissues, can not only be a way to provide comfort for a sore body, but it can be a beautiful opportunity to bond with a freshly born baby.

Postpartum herbal bath, which includes plantain, comfrey, yarrow, uva ursi, and a variety of other healing herbs, can be added to boiling water, but removed from the heat of the stove.  The herbs should steep for 20 minutes, and then be strained.  What remains is a powerful brew that can be used to heal and comfort sore and bruised tissues, combat inflammation, and promote relaxation and well-being.

The herbal bath brew can be used in many ways:

1.  It can be added to a bathtub of warm water for a relaxing soak.  This can not only be a way for mom to relax, but it can be a wonderful opportunity to enjoy and bond with baby as well.

2. The herbal brew can be added to a peri-bottle to rinse mom’s bottom after using the restroom.

3. The brew can be added to a maxi-pad and frozen to be used as a perineal ice pack to soothe swollen tissues. Conversely, using the herbal brew on a warm compress can be a comforting relief.

4. It may also be conveniently added to a sitz bath to soak mom’s bottom in the day following birth.

If you are planning an upcoming birth and want to treat yourself and baby, consider a warm soak in a relaxing herbal bath.  You and your baby worked hard, you both deserve it.

Our herbal bath and other products can be found on our Etsy page.

**Please check with your care provider before taking a bath in the immediate days postpartum.**

Soothing Hemorrhoids in Pregnancy and Postpartum

hemorrhoids pregnancy

Hemorrhoids, which are swollen and exposed blood vessels in the rectum, are perhaps one of the biggest complaints I hear from expecting and postpartum parents.  Some find they have hemorrhoids during pregnancy, while others get them postpartum, likely from pushing.  hemorrhoids

But why do hemorrhoids happen in pregnancy?

During pregnancy, the increased progesterone levels cause the walls of the veins to relax, increasing the likelihood of swelling.  Progesterone levels can also cause constipation in expecting mothers, particularly in the 3rd trimester of pregnancy.  With increased swelling, constipation, and the growing uterus adding pressure to the inferior vena cava, hemorrhoids can become a common and unpleasant pregnancy symptom.

What can I do to soothe hemorrhoids in pregnancy/postpartum?

Eat well and supplement to make sure stools remain soft. Don’t strain. Eating a diet high in fiber can help keep constipation at bay.  Leafy greens, fruits, beans, and whole grains are all good sources of fiber.  Supplementing with magnesium is also known to help keep bathroom habits comfortable and regular.  I love this magnesium supplement and add it to my daily smoothies. Regular exercise can also encourage mobility in the bowel.

Witch Hazel is an anti-inflammatory antiseptic that can reduce discomfort and itchiness.  Witch hazel is also an astringent, which contracts the tissues to minimize bleeding. After wiping, dip a cotton ball in witch hazel and apply to the area.

Sitz Baths are a basin that sits in the toilet bowel and can be used to soak your bottom in warm water.  Not only can a sitz bath keep the area clean, but the warmth of the water can be comforting and also increases blood flow to the area encouraging healing.

Using cold compresses or ice packs can reduce pain and swelling in the area.  Alternating between hot and cold throughout the day is ideal.

Kegeling can help strengthen your pelvic floor muscles, which can prevent internal hemorrhoids from being exposed.  The exercise can also increase blood flow to the pelvic area, promoting healing of existing hemorrhoids.

Potatoes! Using a cheese grater, shred a raw potato.  Use the grated pieces of potato to make poultice and place it next to the hemorrhoid (do not insert into the rectum).  This is reported to reduce the swelling and the size of the hemorrhoid.

A diet high in vitamin C is known to strengthen blood vessels and can help prevent hemorrhoids.  An added bonus of vitamin C is it also maximizes iron absorption. 

 

 

15 Facts about the Foreskin and Circumcision

Circumcision

Circumcision, the surgical removal of the foreskin from the penis, is most commonly performed on newborns.  With a global circumcision rate of approximately 30%, the United States in the only country in the world that circumcises infant for non-religious reasons.

FACTS ABOUT CIRCUMCISION

  1. Originally, the goal of circumcision was to desensitize the penis to curb masturbation. Dr. Kellogg, inventor of the corn flakes, was a major promoter of the procedure.
  2. The foreskin, containing 20,000 nerve endings as opposed to the 8,000 in a clitoris, is a highly sensitive, functioning part of the male anatomy.  It’s purpose is to protect the glans, or the head of the penis from abrasions and to keep dirt and bacteria from the urinary tract.
  3.  The average adult foreskin consists of 1½ inches of outer skin, 1½ inches of inner mucosal lining – totaling a length of 3 inches – and is 5 inches in circumference when erect. This amounts to a surface area of 15 square inches, or a surface area equivalent to that of a 3″ by 5″ inch index card.
  4. Circumcision is not routinely practiced in most countries.  In fact, The United States is the ONLY country where circumcision is done routinely for non-religious reasons. Aside from being a Muslim and Jewish cultural practice, it is a very American practice.
  5. After reviewing 40 years of research, it has been determined by the American Academy of Pediatrics that routine infant circumcision cannot be recommended.  In fact, no professional medical association in the world recommends routine infant circumcision, nor do they state it is medically necessary.
  6. When the foreskin is removed, the head of the penis can develop a thick layer of skin to protect it, making it much less sensitive.  As a result, circumcised men are 3 times more likely to have issues with erectile dysfunction.
  7. Circumcision can reduce a baby’s risk of getting an urinary tract infection (UTI) by 1%.  In other words, in order to prevent 1 UTI, 100 circumcisions would need to be performed.
  8. It has been claimed that circumcision can reduce one’s risk of contracting HIV/AIDS. The United States has one of the highest incidence of HIV/AIDS, yet we are the only country that routinely circumcises male babies.
  9. A foreskin doesn’t separate from the head of the penis until adolescence, sometime between 3 and 15 years of age.  Until this separation occurs, you only need to clean the outside of the penis.  You clean it just as you would any other part of your body.  In fact, a newly circumcised penis, which has an open wound, may be more difficult to clean and care for during diapering.
  10. 117 babies die each year as a result of circumcision complications. The foreskin and penis is a highly vascularized area that contains a significant amount of blood flow. A newborn only has a total of  11.5 ounces of blood.  That’s just shy of a cup-and-a-half.  A newborn only needs to lose 1 ounce to hemorrhage, and 2.3 ounces, which is a the amount in a shot glass, to bleed to death.  You can read more about it here from DrMomma.org.
  11. According to the CDC, circumcision rates have fallen to 55.4% in the United States.
  12. A Mohel, a person specially trained  in circumcision techniques, can perform the circumcision, even on non-Jews.  It has been argued the Mohels perform the procedure more quickly and gently than in clinical settings.
  13. Cortisol levels, a stress hormone, are 3-4 times higher during circumcision than prior to the procedure, which can contribute to post-op breastfeeding challenges.  It is also thought that the pain and trauma from undergoing circumcision may impact the child’s response to pain or stress throughout their life.  Canadian investigators report that during vaccinations at age 4-6 months, circumcised boys had an increased behavioral pain response and cried for significantly longer periods than did intact boys. For more information about this click here.
  14. Foreskins are harvested to make high-end face creams and are often used for cosmetic testing to determine a product’s safety.
  15. Anti-circumsicion activists are referred to as intactivists.

Reflecting on Postpartum Anxiety: A Psychotherapist’s Journey

postpartum anxiety baltimore
Written by Emily Souder, LCSW-C, Nesting Space Therapy LLC

It’s 7:30 on a Monday morning. I’m snuggled up with my 2-year- old in jersey-knit sheets, his legs tucked next to my body, his hair smelling faintly of lavender from last night’s bath. Nearby, my newborn stretches and grunts, waking from a peaceful sleep. This moment is a gift, and yet my stomach has already started to tighten and acid has started creeping up in my throat. The clock has started.

During my waking moments I have often felt as if I’m racing against some invisible clock which can be heard only within my mind and body. I’m on high alert, waiting for the next time my baby wakes, anticipating the next tantrum, imagining the next time my children might have conflicting needs. There is a constant awareness of a countdown until the next mini “crisis”, accompanied by a never-ending script of what-ifs, while I’m scarfing down lunch or scrambling to load the washing machine.

Is the baby going to wake up soon? Do I have time to take a shower? What if she cries? What if my son feels rejected when I can’t play with him because the baby needs to eat?

On that Monday morning, I somehow pull one leg out from under the sheets, and then the other. I announce that we’re going downstairs for breakfast. And I feel terrified.

We’re barely down the stairs before the tears start. I feel like I’m trapped, like something terrible is going to happen, like I’m unable to handle whatever is about to come my way.

I go through the motions- getting breakfast for my son, feeding the dog- while trying to hold it together.

How do I do this? What do I do? What do I do??

Breathe.

***

After the birth of my first child, the daily anxiety I experienced and the panic I felt upon waking each day caught me off guard. Even after having a history of some generalized anxiety, I did not anticipate the hormonal shifts, lack of sleep, and other postpartum factors impacting me the way they did. Although I felt attached to my son, the anxiety impacted my enjoyment of our time together, and my ability to have confidence in being a mother. I was convinced that I would always feel that way- unable to enjoy my new baby, panicked and miserable.

This time, after the birth of my second child, I knew more of what to expect and when I noticed those familiar feelings of anxiety and panic returning, albeit with less intensity, I made sure to seek out a therapist and ask for help in other areas of my life as well. I was fortunate after the births of both children in that I had a great deal of support, as well as access to and knowledge of resources which would help point me toward wellness. I am incredibly grateful I was able to continue caring for my children despite my uncomfortable symptoms.

Though I am currently on maternity leave, I plan to return to work as a psychotherapist. My passion is working with pregnant women and new moms, and I have completed a certificate training in Maternal Mental Health. Last year, I started my own business, Nesting Space Therapy LLC, to offer in-home psychotherapy to pregnant women and new moms. May is Maternal Mental Health Awareness Month, and I felt moved to be honest and say that I have been where so many women are and have been. I’m not really even out yet. Each day I am still continuing to heal. It’s not helpful to hide behind my profession and pretend I have it all together.

Mamas (and partners), there are resources out there for you. Please use them! Don’t feel ashamed. A great place to start looking for resources and assistance is Postpartum Support International. I wish all of you wellness. I’m on the other side of the darkness, and I can tell you that it gets better.

Yoga Poses for the Pregnant Mother

yoga poses for the pregnant mother

Written by: Stephanie Misanik

Yoga is one of my FAVORITE things to talk about with expecting mommas.  Whether you are an experienced yogi or brand new to the mat, prenatal yoga can be a fantastic tool to help ease moodiness, shortness of breath and swollen ankles often experienced during pregnancy.  It provides you with a sacred space to really bond and connect with your baby AND helps prepare your body for the upcoming mystery of labor.  In addition, hitting your mat in a room full of other expecting mommas really creates an energy that I have never experienced anywhere else.  There is something super powerful about expecting mothers coming together and taking time to connect with themselves, their babies and other moms.  If you are feeling all alone in your pregnancy, like nobody gets it…get to a prenatal yoga class!  It’s a safe space to share your experience (the good, the bad and the ugly) with other moms who really truly understand what it is you’re going through.  It’s a fantastic way to create community and feel supported during this beautiful time of life.

If the thought of doing any physical exercise whatsoever seems incredibly overwhelming to you, think of it like this.  Labor is one of the most physically and emotionally intense experiences you will ever endure in this lifetime.  You wouldn’t run a marathon without some physical preparation, and labor is no different.  The asanas (physical poses) of yoga help you to build your strength and stamina while improving circulation.  The meditation during savasana can help you relax and bring your awareness within.  The pranayama (breathing exercises) will be an indispensable tool that you can use to breathe through your contractions when the big day comes.

Safety is key when it comes to exploring the world of prenatal yoga.  If you have never practiced yoga before, it’s important that you only practice prenatal yoga when pregnant.  Now is not the time to check out hot yoga for the first time.  If you already had a strong yoga practice before pregnancy, you may be able to continue that practice (with modifications) during your pregnancy.  Whether you are experienced or brand new, I recommend sticking to a gentle non-heated flow during your first trimester as the fetus is still implanting and the risk of miscarriage is highest.

As you hit your mat, keep in mind that when pregnant, your body produces a bunch of the hormone relaxin, which softens the connective tissue.  This is super important because it allows the joints in your pelvis to become more flexible as your uterus expands, making room for your growing baby.  Unfortunately, it also can lead to instability in the sacroiliac (SI) joints and can cause lower back pain, so be careful not to overstretch during your practice.

When it comes to knowing which poses are safe and which should be avoided, there are some general guidelines, but mostly I suggest listening to your body.  If something feels good, keep doing it…and if something feels bad, stop.  Here are some helpful guidelines to get you started:

Safe Poses:

Standing poses such as Utthita Trikonasana (Triangle), Utthita Parsvakonasana (Extended Side Angle) and Virabhadrasana 1-3 (Warrior 1-3) are safe and a great way to ground you to the earth and build strength throughout your pregnancy.

Balancing poses such as Vrkasana (Tree) and Garudasana (Eagle) are okay too.  I recommend doing them near a wall or chair if you are feeling unstable.

Hip openers such as Baddha Konasana (Bound Angle Pose), Upavistha Konasana (Wide-Angle Seated Forward Bend), Agnistambhasana (Ankle-to-Knee Pose), Eka Pada Kapotasana (1/2 Pigeon Pose), Balasana (Wide-Knee Child’s Pose) and Malasana (Deep Squat) are great because of the focus on flexibility that will be needed later on for delivery, just don’t overdo it because the hormone relaxin is softening all the joints and they are easily dislocated with excessive stretching.  These hip openers are especially helpful in the third trimester because they relieve lower back pain and create space around the pelvis.  They are great poses to use during labor as well to release the lumber spine and open the hip joints.

Stretches on the back such as Supta Baddha Konasana (Recline Bound Angle Pose) and Supta Padagusthasana (Reclining Big Toe Pose – with a strap) are great during the first trimester.  After 20 weeks, I suggest placing a blanket or bolster under your upper back to elevate your upper body past 20 degrees

Poses to Avoid:

Avoid intense abdominal work like Paripurna Navasana (Boat Pose) because the uterus is super delicate right now.  As you progress in your pregnancy, doing super intense abdominal work runs the risk of tearing and separating your abdominal muslces.

Avoid deep twists like Parivrtta Trikonasana (Revolved Triangle), Parivrtta Parsvakonasana (Revolved Side Angle) as they tend to exert too much pressure on the abdominal cavity.

Avoid inversions except Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-Facing Dog) for short amounts of time.

Safe Backbends During Pregnancy:

I am often asked if backbends are okay during pregnancy, and my answer is YES, with modifications.  It is super important to listen to your body, so if your body is telling you that something doesn’t feel good listen to it!  Here are some safe backbends to take during pregnancy, if it feels good to you:

Supported Matsyasana (Supported Fish Pose)

Sphinx Pose on two blocks and a bolster underneath your thighs.  During pregnancy, the femurs shift forward in the hip sockets.  Placing a bolster underneath your thighs helps to lift the femurs toward the hamstrings, centering the thighbone in the hip socket.  The blocks give extra height to create space for you baby bump.

Urdhva Mukha Svanasana (Upward-Facing Dog) with a bolster under your thighs

Purvottanasana (Upward Plank)

Ustrasana (Camel Pose) with blocks on the outside of your legs

In addition to the asanas, breath work is a fantastic yogic tool to calm the mind and prepare you for the big day.  The two most beneficial kinds of pranayama (breathing exercises) during pregnancy are Ujjayi (long, strong deep breaths in and out, through your nose with a slight constriction in the back of your throat) and Nadi Shodhana (alternate nostril breathing).  It’s important to stick to these two and avoid any kind of breath retention or hyperventilation because it could limit the baby’s oxygen supply.

In the end, remember that you are a powerful woman.  Trust your intuition.  If something doesn’t feel good, don’t ignore that feeling.  Listen to your body, do what makes you feel good.  Prenatal yoga is a great opportunity to bond with your baby, to meet other moms and to prepare your body for the birthing process.  I hope to see you in class!

Plants for Life,

Stephanie Misanik, INHC, RYT-200

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