Gratitude bestows reverence, allowing us to encounter everyday epiphanies, those transcendent moments of awe that change forever how we experience life and the world. --John Milton

Monday, December 7, 2015

Yogurt Muesli for Baby

This is as easy as it gets. Mix oats and yogurt. That's it!

Yet the benefits of this baby-pleasing recipe are big. First yogurt is a gentle, nutritious food that infants can enjoy and then continue to enjoy as toddlers. Not all yogurt has the same value of course. Look for as little sugar as possible. Greek yogurt is better with more protein. My new favorite is a Friendly Farms whole milk vanilla yogurt that our local Aldi's recently added to their dairy section. If you can make your own yogurt from raw milk, that's probably as good as it gets nutritionally.

So, low-sugar yogurt is healthy and most babies love it, right? Also the old fashioned rolled oats are packed with goodness. But as I've been learning from Nourishing Traditions, grains have anti-nutrients too. The way to have the good stuff without the hard-to-digest stuff is to soak the grains in something acidic - like yogurt!

Make this Yogurt Muesli the night before as a breakfast or have it in the fridge for an anytime snack.

1 1/2 cups vanilla yogurt
1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats 
Cover and refrigerate for 8 to 24 hours. Top with fruit if desired. 

My whole family enjoys this one for breakfast about every couple weeks. Maybe you or your baby will love it too. Please let me know either way.

For those who are familiar with soaked or fermented grains, I'd like to have your opinion on this. I suspect that the Yogurt Muesli breaks down the anti-nutrients some, while not as much as soaked or even fermented grains. Thoughts?

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Raspberry Loose Leaf Tea for Pregnancy

Here's a mama who details how raspberry loose leaf tea is wonderful for pregnancy - especially that last trimester. Wellness Mama has enjoyed the tea often herself and includes brewing instructions.

I had a cup this morning and find it relatable to green tea which I like so much. I think it was good for me during my two precious pregnancies, but I only had maybe a cup a day and it was with tea bags. I'm excited to try loose leaf - 3  to 4 cups a day in the last few months!

 Here's what Wellness Mama says about it:

The specific combination of nutrients in Raspberry Leaf makes it extremely beneficial for the female reproductive system. It strengthens the uterus and pelvic muscles which some midwives say leads to shorter and easier labors.
Pour 8 ounces of boiling water over 1 teaspoon-1 tablespoon of Raspberry Leaf. Steep, covered, for at least 5 minutes and drink as regular tea. I often keep a gallon of cold raspberry leaf tea in the fridge so that I don’t have to brew by the cup. To make a gallon, just 3/4 to 1 cup of Raspberry Leaf per gallon of boiling water.

She's got lots more goodness to share here.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Fermented Sweet Potato for Baby

My infant just enjoyed a helping of one of his favorites - fermented sweet potato. Or I might call it sweet potato yogurt. Anyway, the sweet potato, the yogurt, and the fermenting process make this one healthy, yummy dish for Baby.

4 cups cooked, peeled sweet potatoes
2 cups plain yogurt
1 Tablespoon sea salt
Bake or boil the potatoes, and then mash in a glass bowl.
Blend with yogurt and sea salt well.
Cover with a clean, cotton cloth and secure with a rubber band.
Leave covered bowl on the counter for two days.
It mostly fills a couple of quart jars and should last a month in the refrigerator.
I got the recipe from the wonderful Healthy Home Economist.

More info: The Healthy Home Economist blog is bursting with clear instructions on healthy eating. 

Monday, October 5, 2015

Custard for Baby

Finally! I've found a way my infant will eat egg yolks.

This recipe is from The Nourishing Traditions Book of Baby & Child Care by Sally Fallon Morell and Thomas S. Cowan, MD.

Makes 6 Servings
1 cup whole raw milk
1 cup heavy cream, not ultrapasteurized
1/4 cup honey or Rapadura
5 egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Warm milk and cream gently over a low flame. Meanwhile, beat Rapadura or honey with egg yolks. Slowly add milk and cream mixture to eggs, beating constantly. Blend in vanilla and pour into individual buttered ramekins or custard cups. Place in a pan of hot water and bake at 325 degrees for about 1 hour, or until a knife inserted into the custard comes out clean. Chill well.

What do you think? Has anyone else tried this recipe or a similar one?

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Conscious Choices

Not all birth choices are the same. Still, a woman benefits hugely when she at least makes conscious choices. In other words, she takes complete responsibility for her baby from the moment of conception. Mama is in charge of herself and her child.

When rounded mama is making intentional decisions, she receives better care than if she numbly does what she's told I think. She is able to tailor the expert advice to herself and her baby. She has instincts and understanding that a medical professional can't know about her unique pregnancy. The happy ideal is harmonious respect for the mother's capability and also the professional's expertise.

Perhaps even more significant, when mama is in charge, she takes better care of herself and baby. She gets that what she eats matters, what she does matters, and what she feels matters. She is the only one who can eat right, do right, and feel right for her developing fetus. Her trust for wellness rests in this body of hers designed to bring life. She appreciates others assisting her to grow, labor, and deliver her baby.

What's more, a woman in charge (not the same as being in control) surrenders to life flowing through her. She is in awe of her body and this new person given to her care. Though frightening, she welcomes the terrific waves of energy carrying life forward. She chooses an intervention because she knows it too will assist her. She trusts, and is well. She gives thanks for every privileged moment holding new life.

More info? Midwife Thinking is a tremendous place to start.

Monday, September 14, 2015

On Pushing

I recently enjoyed my first kayaking on ocean waves. My husband and I were flattened a couple of times just trying to get the craft out there. Surrounded by the vastness, we let the oars rest. Mild swells lifted and dropped us with soothing rhythm and frightening ease. I could not begin to control the power carrying me. I could simply be in awe and work with it. I was reminded of birth.

Rachel Reed gives us a researched article called Supporting Women's Instinctive Pushing Behavior During Birth. She respects a woman's ability to birth and provides practical suggestions for giving good support. I've included these suggestions in my post.
"Evidence supports the notion that women instinctively push in the most effective and safe way for themselves and their babies during birth. A birthing woman is the expert regarding when and how she pushes. Providing directions implies she needs our guidance and that we are the experts. Facilitating women’s instinctive birthing behaviours rather than directing them is evidence based and reinforces women’s innate ability to birth. 
Suggestions for practice:
  • Include information about the physiology of birth in antenatal education/preparation. Reinforce the message that women have an innate ability to birth without direction.
  • Provide an environment that facilitates physiological birth and instinctive behaviour – low lighting, minimal disturbance, comfortable furniture that supports mobility and movement (floor mats, beanbags, birth pool, shower).
  • Avoid asking the woman if she needs to push, or feels ‘pushy’ as this may suggest that she should and could interfere with her inward focus and instinctive behaviour.
  • If the woman tells you she feels the urge to push, reassure her that this is good, but don’t encourage her to push. There will come a point when she is spontaneously pushing rather than feeling an urge to.
  • Avoid vaginal examinations to ‘diagnose’ full dilatation. If you are not going to provide instructions about pushing based on cervical dilatation, there is no benefit in knowing this information.
  • Do not disturb the woman’s instinctive pattern of pushing and breathing. Avoid directions and, if you must speak, gently reinforce her ability to birth.
  • Avoid directions or distractions as the baby’s head is emerging to facilitate the woman’s instinctive perineal protecting behaviours (such as gasping, screaming, closing her legs, holding her baby and perineum)."
Can you relate to her explanation of a woman's instincts to push? In my case, the ladies assisting me got a bit excited when Baby crowned and started cheering me to push. It was rather distracting. Thankfully though, up until then I (mostly) rode the waves instinctively.

More pushing tips: from Aidan - I heartily agree!

Monday, August 31, 2015

Pregnancy Choices: Birth Defects Screening

Before switching practices, I sat on the exam table while my midwife explained to an intern, "She's not getting the test - it's if you might want an abortion." Abortion - not a word I was comfortable hearing said nonchalantly from the mouth of one whose hands I trusted to cherish the life within.

I was going on instinct then. Now I understand a little more. There are a couple routine fetal screenings to test for birth defects during the first and second trimesters.

Nuchal Translucency Screening Test (ultrasound) plus Multiple Marker Screening (blood)
"These tests do not provide a definitive answer as to whether your child has a deformity or chromosomal abnormality, only statistical indications. Should they indicate possible problems, additional testing may be recommended, such as amniocentesis or chorionic villus sampling (CVS)."(Morell, 63)
(Amniocentesis and chorionic villus sampling are dangerous diagnostic tests.)
"Such testing is completely pointless unless the parents would choose to terminate the pregnancy." (62)
Is "completely pointless" too strong? What benefits or risks for any of these tests come to mind? I'm about being informed and making responsible choices, not having the same opinions. You have a valuable perspective to share.

More info: The Nourishing Traditions Book of Baby & Child Care by Sally Fallon Morell and Thomas S. Cowan, MD. MidwifeThinking provides a helpful resource for understanding screenings and diagnostic tests.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Pregnancy Choices: Glucose Tolerance Test

Thankfully, I didn't take any glucose tests. If you did though, I want to hear about it. Was it helpful, not helpful?

Here's what I've found:

#1. The test is risky.
Hmm. Let's tell a pregnant woman to skip a meal and then drink a lot of sugar.

#2. The test result can be harmful.
Testing positive for gestational diabetes is more likely to bring risky interventions plus anxiety and less likely to encourage the nutritious diet that could actually make a difference.

Here's a quote from The Nourishing Traditions Book of Baby & Child Care:
"Ironically, this dangerous test is mostly reserved for pregnant women. For the rest of the population, the main test used is the 'casual plasma glucose test,' in which a sample of blood is drawn without regard to the time of the last meal or the content of that meal. You are not required to abstain from eating prior to the test nor take a highly sweetened drink - the very worst thing a diabetic can do, especially a pregnant diabetic." (69)
Aviva Roma MD thoughtfully explores this in "Glucose Testing in Pregnancy: Should it Be Routine?"
"Aside from problems with food colorings and other potentially unhealthy ingredients in the glucola, which are actually small compared to the risks of untreated GDM, we need to consider the mental and emotional impact of a pregnant woman thinking of herself as having a 'disease' rather than just emphasizing the importance of a healthy diet and appropriate follow-up, perhaps with the exception of women whose blood sugar cannot be controlled with diet alone and who require medications."
So are the risks worth the benefits? In what instances?

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Soy is Toxic

I didn't realize until I got home from shopping, that I had grabbed imitation mozzarella made from soy. Have you consumed soy without realizing it?

Soy is tough to avoid. Today I noted it in the ingredients of a health drink. But is it healthy - particularly for mothers and infants? 

Here's a great article about it.
Soy is particularly harmful for women and men trying to conceive, for women already pregnant or breastfeeding and for infants. 
A study at the Harvard Public School of Health in 2008 found that men who consumed the equivalent of one cup of soy milk per day had a 50% lower sperm count than men who didn’t eat soy. 
In 1992, the Swiss Health Service estimated that women consuming the equivalent of two cups of soy milk per day provides the estrogenic equivalent of one birth control pill. That means women eating cereal with soy milk and drinking a soy latte each day are effectively getting the same estrogen effect as if they were taking a birth control pill. 
This effect is even more dramatic in infants fed soy formula.  The key ingredient in soy formula is soy protein isolate, a compound that is not even recognized as safe for human consumption by the FDA. 
Infants fed soy receive 6.25 mg of soy isoflavones per kilogram of body weight per day.  This is more than 10 times the amount of soy isoflavones that has been shown to cause problems in adults. 
In a baby that weighs 13 pounds, 10 mg of soy provides the estrogenic equivalent of a birth control pill.  The average amount of soy formula given to an infant in a day contains 40 mg of soy.  This means that feeding soy formula to a baby is the equivalent of giving her 4 birth control pills.
Continue reading "5 Myths About Pregnancy Nutrition – #4: Soy is a Healthy Alternative to Meat & Dairy."

More info: The Nourishing Traditions Book of Baby & Child Care by Sally Fallon Morell and Thomas S. Cowan, MD.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Ann Voskamp is Pro-Voice

 Ann Voskamp offers stunning commentary on ISIS, abortion, and being a mom.
Using our voices to ask: Why does the Church shame a woman for getting pregnant, shame her for aborting that baby —- yet what about realizing that it can be this shame for sin, that actually bullies into further sin,  and what if instead of shaming —  we weren’t ashamed of the Gospel of extravagant Grace? 
The abortion debate offers that a woman is ultimately responsible alone for her child; the Gospel offers that no woman is ever alone and the Body of Christ is response-able to both woman and child.
[Continue reading ...]

I choose to open my eyes today to the hurt.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Nutrition for Pregnancy and Breastfeeding - 5 Doable Foods

Inspired by Nourishing Traditions, here's what I do to make sure my boys and I get lots of nutrition.

1. Homemade Broth
- My two-year old can be picky, but chicken broth with egg noodles is a victory.
- I put the whole chicken (except the liver) in the slow cooker until the meat is falling off the bones or longer. The meat goes in tacos and the broth makes noodle soup.

2. Eggs
- The white gives protein and the yoke is packed with nutrients. Make yourself an omelet!
- Free-range eggs have even more goodness.

3. Raw Milk
- This might not seem doable at first because where do you get raw milk, right? This website might help you start your search:

4. Butter
- That's right. Even pasteurized butter helps the greens go down (a win-win because butter aids digestion and provides vitamins A,D, K, and E).
- Nourishing Traditions recommends 4 Tablespoons  a day for moms (Morell, 33).

5. Sourdough
- Starting my own was as simple as flour and water. Feeding it can be every day or once a week.
- Sourdough crackers have replaced animal crackers and goldfish and other processed snacks.

There is so much to learn and share about nutrition for mamas and babies. Let me know what you're doing.

More info? The Nourishing Traditions Book of Baby & Child Care by Sally Fallon Morell and thomas S. Cowan, MD. Or the

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Evening Primrose Oil to Ripen the Cervix

My midwife recommended Evening Primrose Oil to ripen the cervix during the third trimester. Did you know you can pick it up at Walmart in the vitamin section?

I enjoyed this gentle aid both pregnancies and believe it works well.

Starting at about 34 weeks (obviously not before), take one daily with food. Then close to estimated due date, take three times daily with meals orally. Plus at night, insert three vaginally.

The capsules dissolve and the oil softens the cervix.

Anyone else found this helpful?

More info: Basic explanation of Evening Primrose Oil on LoveToKnow. And I appreciate this careful, easy-to-read review of Evening Primrose Oil on Natural Motherhood. She also asks a fair question, "Do our bodies really need something to help us go into labor?" What do you think ...

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Take Nap is on My To-Do List

It made a notable difference in my two beautiful deliveries. First one: spent. Second one: engaged.

A primary reason? Naps.

With an active toddler, I had to put it on my daily To-Do List. My husband would come home from work and ask, "Did you get a nap?" It still didn't always happen, but making rest a priority did give me many helpful naps.

It's tough going into the workout of labor already tired. I remember. And guess what - my body still did what it needed to in bringing my baby into our arms.

Here's what's amazing. Being rested for baby boy #2, I enjoyed every moment. I felt so alive!

I lay savoring it all with Baby nestled on me. I felt the kind of good like after a challenging run - but better. Delightful emotions washed over me.

After my first delivery, my feeling was relief. And then I fainted - twice.

Naps help.

And when contractions start, then rested-or-not here comes Baby. And I let go and trust the life given to me to be enough.

Any tricks for getting rest with a toddler ... or two?

Quote from Nourishing Traditions on fatigue: "Get as much sleep as your body tells you it needs! That may mean frequent naps, even a cat nap at work."

Monday, July 20, 2015

Don't Toss the Liver

Usually I toss the liver to my dog when cutting up whole chicken. This time I cooked it in olive oil and garlic.

Apparently it is high in vitamin A, which combined with vitamin D is wonderful for mama and her growing baby. It's a densely nutritious gift to mama and baby.

The concern that liver has too much vitamin A is addressed in The Nourishing Traditions Book of Baby & Child Care. Sally Fallon Morell and Thomas S. Cowan, MD give us a lot to discuss on this any many, many fabulous topics.

Have you read this book? Do you eat liver - any special recipes?

For more info: Check out The Nourishing Traditions Book of Baby & Child Care. I like this balanced review on Informed Mama blog. Here's another. On pregnant mama's eating liver see The Weston A. Price Foundation

Monday, May 18, 2015

Story from Deanna

Thank you, Deanna, for sharing the precious birth of your baby girl with us. 

My water broke at 2:30 am Easter morning, but I wasn't sure whether it broke or not because the flow wasn't steady. I wondered if I was accidentally peeing on myself even though I should have known better.

Contractions started at 10 am, and my midwife came over that evening. I dilated to 10 cm within a reasonable time (by Monday afternoon or Tuesday morning, I think), but even though I was pushing, there was no baby. We tried everything, and when my midwife would suggest going to the hospital, I would beg to try a little bit longer, but by Tuesday afternoon I had to admit that I was absolutely exhausted. I had only slept about 10 minutes since labor started and couldn't eat anything.

At the hospital, they gave me an epidural so I could sleep for a few hours before pushing again. The hypnobabies techniques I was using worked beautifully to make my contractions feel like pressure waves rather than pain, but they didn't help my legs, which had started to swell (for the first time in my pregnancy) and were really killing me. I had been on my feet almost the whole labor because I found it almost impossible to sit or lie down during contractions, so they'd had a lot of stress, and I was so happy for the epidural because my legs stopped hurting.

When they woke me up and had me start pushing again (with pitocin), the baby still wasn't coming, so the midwife in charge (no doctor -- the hospital we picked had midwives deliver the babies!) used the vacuum to help me push her out. By then, there was meconium in the water and she wasn't doing too well, so they cut the cord quickly and rushed her to the alcove (I could still see her) and suctioned out her lungs. I barely touched her with the tips of my fingers as they rushed her away, but as soon as they were done working on her (and I got stitched up from some minor tears), they put her on my chest.

We were in the car on the way home just over 24 hours later when we got called back into the hospital. They ended up keeping her for 10 days of antibiotics because her blood tested positive for Strep G (common in respiratory infections, and I had a cold). I remained calm about having her in the hospital instead of at home, but I cried when we had to turn around and go back. Fortunately, they let me room with her 24/7. In a way, it was good that we had to stay in the hospital because we had such an awful time learning how to nurse.

Now, over a month later, everything is going well.  Baby girl is a complete darling who nurses well and naps well and smiles at everyone who pays her attention.

There you have it!  :)

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Enjoying Recovery - Goldenseal Douche

This is soothing and helps the immune system as an antibiotic.


1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon (one capsule) golden seal
1 cup warm water


Put ingredients into a Perineal Bottle. Shake bottle to blend. Squirt on sore area after using the toilet (won't have to use abrasive toilet paper).

Have you tried something similar?

Saturday, May 2, 2015

How Important is Centimeters Dilated?

It's how I tell my of my first son's birth: "Then the midwife checked, and I was already 8 cm! ..."

It does indicate progress, but as this informative article explains - there's much more to observe than an opening cervix.

Here's a quote from Midwife ThinkingVaginal examinations: a symptom of a cervix-centric birth culture.

The truth is that women’s bodies are complex, unique and immeasurable. Birth is a multidimensional experience that cannot be accurately defined by anyone outside of the experience. We – those of us who give birth and/or attend birth – know this. 

Let's not oversimplify birth or try to put it on a neat timeline.

What's been your experience?