natural mother magazine
Taking Back Childhood An Argument for Tur ning Off the Tube
Caused by Lead Poisoning & What You Can Do Now
Sowing Seeds & Planting Weeds Start Your Indoor Herb Garden Now
Issue 30, March 2017
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PUBLISHER & EDITOR IN CHIEF Jessika Jacob
COPY EDITOR Ingrid Sorensen
EDITORIAL REVIEWS Holly Scudero
Sharon Brown Meagan Henao Megan Stonelake Guggie Daly Annabele Grace Holly Scudero Victoria Lagerstrom Rebecca Evans Saidy Corneglio
Ginger Horsburgh Earthside Birth Photography
Information contained herein is not intended to replace professional medical or legal counsel. This publication may contain affiliate links and/or paid content. Â© 2017 All rights reserved NATURAL MOTHER MAGAZINE | 3
Letter from the Publisher
Letter from the Editor
Taking Back Childhood: An Argument for Turning Off the Tube
Breastfeeding: What it Should and Should Not Feel Like
Peaceful Parenting is for All Children
Tooth Decay: Caused by Lead Poisoning
1 in 7: Postpartum Depression
Guidebooks for Postpartum Healing
March 2017: Life Path Reading
How to Decorate a Non-Toxic, Healthy Baby Room
Sowing Seeds & Growing Weeds
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Vaccinations? Know the risks and failures.
National Vaccine Information Center
Your health. Your family. Your choice. NVICadvocacy.org
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letter from the publisher Spring is in the air, or is that more snow? We have experienced a record breaking winter in Utah this year. And like life, it has tested me in so many ways.
And then I count them again as the snow covers them back up.
I am constantly reminded of the saying, “What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger.” Oh boy, does it ever. EsI use wood to heat my cabin, the pecially those quads. endless loading of firewood into the house can be exhausting. Can be? As I said in our January issue, I am not Who am I kidding, it IS exhausting. 31 one for New Year’s Resolutions. I find stairs to the woodburning stove from that setting goals simply because we the wood pile. Yes I count them, ev- replace the calendar does nothing more than set us up for failure. ery time. I also count them while I am shovel- I like to set intentions, and not just on ing the snow from the stairs outside. New Year’s Eve. And it’s working, as in years past. Like a charm. I have made huge progress in self care and my health. Cutting out things that don’t serve my higher good, my best self. I’ve added things in like working out in addition to my almost daily home yoga practice, and drinking lemon water. This year is shaping up nicely. Every sinlge day is a day to make better choices, stregthen healthier habits, and let go of everything that holds you back. Health is a habit. Will you join me?
Jessika Jacob Publisher
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Sharon Brown is a freelance writer and editor. She is the author of the parenting e-book, The Conscious Parenting Notebook and currently writes about her mission to live more consciously on her blog A More Conscious Life. She has published work in three international compilations: “English House” in Forced to Fly II, “Our Little Piece of Vietnam” in How Does One Dress to Buy Dragon Fruit, and “Following the Goat” and “Living in Myanmar” in Collecting Water When it Rains. Sharon lives in Banos de Agua Santa, Ecuador, with her husband and two children. Meagan Henao is a former Fashion Merchandiser turned wellness geek who left Fashion and Miami behind to return to her roots in Orlando and overhaul her life in 2008. These days, Meagan’s growing her practice, Inclusive Health & Wellness, as a Certified Family & Prenatal Health Coach and Certified Lactation Counselor. She loves writing, art, philanthropy, and family, and stays sane with the help of fiction at the gym, magnesium, and a dark sense of humor. Connect with her at www.familyhealthtips.com. Megan Stonelake is a therapist and parent coach who teaches parents all over the world how to become more peaceful. She has written extensively on peaceful parenting for Parent. com, Hey Sigmund, and The Huffington Post among others. You can follow her blog or schedule a session at her website: empathicparentingcounseling.com. You can also follow her on Facebook and Twitter.
Guggie Daly, blogger at The Guggie Daily, applied her background in neuroscience to the parenting realm. She incorporates evidence-based concepts in epigenetics and nutrigenomics with the latest parenting research so that parents can develop integrated, holistic health in their own families. She is married to a passionate environmentalist and is a mother to four.
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issue 30 contributors Annabele Grace is a mother, yoga instructor, community activist, artist, writer, woods-dweller and shore-wanderer. She is passionate about supporting women in all facets. She coleads women’s circles and support groups for mothers within her rural community. Annabele lives in the coastal redwoods of Northern California with her young son. She blogs at www. myunchartedground.com and you can learn more about her other offerings at www.delphinayoga.com.
Holly Scudero is a full-time at-home mama and wife. She
has one child, but hopes to have more someday, and her passions include natural parenting, birth, reading, writing, vegetarian cooking, and being active. She blogs about whatever is on her mind at Leaves of Lavender.
Victoria Lagerström is a professional Tarot reader, Intuitive and Shamanic healing practitioner. She specializes in connecting people with their unique gifts and soul path. Originally from Sweden, Victoria now lives among the sandstone cliffs of Zion National Park with her husband Dave and her two-year-old son Eliot. www.soulgardencompanion.com
Rebecca Evans M.A. writes about health and environmental issues. She is an avid researcher of how synthetic chemicals in everyday products affect human health and the environment. She is passionate about sharing important scientific reasearch about organic non-toxic living with parents so that their children can grow up healthy. She has two grown sons and lives with her husband and two Yorkshire Terriers in Scottsdale, Arizona.
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Saidy Corneglio is an herbalist, writer, and photographer living the expat life in Canada with her husband and three daughters. She is passionate about holistic healthcare, natural living, photojournalism and traveling around this beautiful world, learning from the people and cultures she connects with.
Amy Christensen spent 12 years as a wedding planner and
caterer, and 15 years in the natural food industry as a marketing director. She teaches cooking classes and seminars for children and adults, and opened a food co-op. She now shares her love of all things food as a chef instructor at the Salt Lake Culinary Center, teaching cooking classes to kids, teens, and adults.
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letter from the editor Dear mamas, I didn’t expect to be so moved by an article mentioning post-partum depression, yet here I am 5 whole years after birthing my last baby, and I am in tears. Deep, personal tears, over the gut-wrenching writing of our contributor, Annabele Grace. She elicited feelings I haven’t experienced in years. I remembered how just plain hard the postpartum time can be. Just plain HARD. Hard and
complex. Grace brings it out in the open and invites us to feel it all. Read it (page 36), and let those feelings surface, sit, and simmer. Remember those first weeks with a newborn, and the myriad of challenges and transitions we go through as mothers in just a few short months. Then ask yourself if extra loving support would’ve been a help to you at that time. And ask, if you are in this phase now, “Who can I call on to help me out?” For real honest help. Not the kind that says ‘let me know what I can do for you,’” but the kind that marches in, scrubs the pile of dishes, and rocks the crying baby so you can shower til the hot water runs out. Then ask for THAT help. Or if you aren’t in this phase yourself right now, seek out a friend who is, and give her exactly the kind of tender loving care you wish you had received. We can change the postpartum experience for mothers, one simple yet selfless act at a time. Let’s do this.
Ingrid Sorensen Copy Editor
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CHILDHOOD AN ARGUMENT FOR TURNING OFF T H E T U B E | by Sharon Brown
thinking, “I will never do this to my children!” Yet, 25 years later, with two small children of my own, I think back to my parents’ decision and am grateful. Because I was never addicted to the latest show, I found more time to read and write and spend quality time with my family and friends. Because turning on the television was not an unconscious habit, when I left home, I found other things to do with my free time. Because television was not over-valued It isn’t easy, but it is possible. in my parents’ home, it never found When I was in high school, my par- a place in my own. ents had a “no television on school nights” rule. And for that, I thought When I became a parent, my husthey were the meanest parents in band and I decided to limit telethe world. While all my friends were vision for our own children. Having following the latest drama on Bever- read the recommendations of limitly Hills 90210, I was stuck doing home- ed exposure to television for children work or reading books. I remember under two, we decided to keep the In our increasingly technology-centered world, it may seem archaic to talk about the benefits of limiting screen time for our children. Yet for those of us who look back longingly on simpler, less scheduled childhoods--full of neighborhood friends and hours of interrupted, outdoor imaginative play--and want the same for our children, it is important to know that it is possible.
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television off whenever our first-born ued motivation comes with seeing was around. But it wasn’t easy. the practical effects of our decision in the everyday play of our children. I spent hours at the dollar store buy- As work-at-home parents of two ing things for “busy boxes” to keep small children, there are times when her entertained when I needed to we cannot devote our full attention get something done. I put flour and to their entertainment and it is at spoons in bowls on the floor by my these times that our early efforts at feet while I cooked dinner. We spent encouraging creative and imaginahours outside on walks, read books, tive play arise. When my six-year-old, sang songs, played games. By the left on her own for a few minutes, sets time our oldest gave up naps, I had up a “spa” for her brother, complete to get more creative, making a “qui- with face wash, body brush and loet time box of toys” for her to play tion; when our children head to the with when I needed a rest. But I per- back yard immediately upon returnsevered because I knew the bene- ing home to pick up where they left fits. off in their games of pretend; when our children make “mud-pancake” Psychologists and pediatricians restaurants with friends, inviting any have advised parents to limit screen passing adult to sample their prodtime for children under two, saying ucts; when they disappear for half that language skills are developed an hour and appear wearing our through one-on-one communica- clothes, speaking made-up lantion, rather than one-way exposure. guages or rushing off to “feed the Time spent in front of a screen is time fairies,” these are the tangible benthat is not spent outdoors or doing efits of limiting their exposure to meother things that help children devel- dia, of taking back their childhoods. op the motor, communication and Not having the option of television social skills that they will need later forces you to be creative when your on in life. Additionally, television pro- children are young and encouraggrams targeted to children do not es their own creativity as they age. always reflect the values or behavior If you are a new parent, starting off that parents want to model for their with limited screen time is much easchildren. ier than weaning older children. But with a little time, effort, and creativiThese scientific benefits and admo- ty on your part, it is possible to glean nitions are helpful motivators, but for the benefits of less technology even us, our children now 4 and 6, contin- with older children. 14| NATURAL MOTHER MAGAZINE
Rather than turning on the television or handing over your phone when your children are “bored,” or you need some child-free time to yourself, here are a few screen-free options that will entertain young children, spark their imaginations and encourage positive growth and development:
• An Art Station: An area of your house sectioned off as an art station, with containers of (washable) markers, paint, paint brushes, glue sticks, scissors, string, feathers, buttons and beads (when age-appropriate), magazines, old family photos, construction paper, drawing paper, and other accessories.
• Busy bags: a quick Google search for “busy bags” will lead to a myriad of ideas for activity bags for children of different ages ranging from the simple (pipe-cleaners and buttons) to the complex (chalkboard paint blocks).
• A Library Corner: A bookcase or basket of picture, easy reader, and chapter books with some pillows or a comfortable chair. • A Sensory Table: A low table with water, sand, rice, beans, play dough, flour, small toy animals or other “senNATURAL MOTHER MAGAZINE | 15
sory” materials (when age appropri- A few years ago in an international ate). setting, I struck up a conversation about screen time limits with a father • A Nature Space: A fenced-in back- from Spain and he said something to yard or outside play area where your me that I’ll never forget: “The world child can explore nature safely with will get them eventually. So I keep your presence, but maybe not your them close while I can.” constant attention. The world will get them eventually. • A Construction Zone: An area for Technology is a part of our modern building with Legos, blocks, egg car- society and our children will learn tons, cardboard boxes (and tape) to use cell phones, computers, and or other creative toys that allow for integrated TVs. Eventually. They timeless play and imagination. will gain the skills they need to survive and thrive in a fast-paced, fu• A Dress Up Box: A box or bin filled ture-facing job market. Eventually. with old clothes, scarves, shoes, hats, But for now, when they are young, jewelry and more. it is worth the effort to give them a simpler childhood: a childhood full • A Pillow Fort: An old couch with of books, nature, imagination, and removable cushions, pillows, sheets play. A childhood where they tell and clothes pins. the stories, where they are the characters, and where the values they • A “Quiet Time” Box. A box of small model are the ones they see in their toys or busy bags that only comes home every day. out on rare occasions when you need a quiet moment to yourself. It is not easy, but it is possible.
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BREASTFEEDING | by Meagan Henao
What it should & should not feel like, plus 5 tips for troubleshooting
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As new and expecting mothers we hear a whole lot about breastfeeding: mainly how natural it is, and how painful it can be. It’s become a current school of thought that breastfeeding will cause pain in the beginning. And while incredibly common, nipple pain during or after breastfeeding is not normal, nor is it something you should have to “push through.” We all know that breastmilk offers optimal nutrition for our babies, but few of us truly understand that the act of breastfeeding is a learned behavior. Just as we as adults get to know each other to form relationships and friendships, you and your baby are getting to know each other. Breastfeeding is a dance the two of you must master together. It’s one of the first opportunities we as mothers have to parent and guide our children. Unfortunately, many of us have little guidance ourselves on how or what we are supposed to be teaching our little ones, how to help them learn this new behavior. Throw in sleep deprivation, and sometimes pain, and breastfeeding can become a frustrating and daunting experience for some. Let’s begin by quickly talking about latch, the way baby attaches to the breast. It is the absolute foundation of efficient and
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pain-free breastfeeding. It can also seem like one of the trickiest things at the beginning of a breastfeeding journey. Most breastfeeding struggles come back to a poor latch. For this reason, the following topics are geared toward obtaining an optimal latch. Below, we are going to discuss 5 ways to troubleshoot your breastfeeding session if you are experiencing pain, difficulty latching, and how to redirect a challenging feeding session. 1. Skin to Skin How did the feeding start? Did you practice skin to skin? Research tells us that babies breastfeed best, in the early weeks, when they experience uninterrupted skin to skin contact before a feeding. Strip baby down to her diaper and remove your clothing from the waist up. If you would like, you can wear a robe or sweater, leaving it open in the front. Lay baby on your chest, tummy to tummy, between your breasts. Skin to skin contact is comforting for them, allows them the scent of your milk, and gives them the opportunity to make their way to the breast on their own. Skin to skin contact will also help a disorganized baby regroup, and I suggest using it as a reset button during challenging feedings.
Side note: Many fathers struggle with their role in the early weeks of a baby’s life when he is nursing or sleeping most of the time. Skin to skin with dad or the non-feeding partner is an excellent way to bond with baby. 2. Timing Is now the best time to attempt a feeding? Is baby too tired or too hungry? Infants nurse best when it’s right for them. You want to try to nurse on demand, versus on a schedule, as much as possible. Not only is this the most ideal for your baby, but it is also best for maintaining your milk supply (by keeping your Prolactin levels high). While some infants feed on a regular schedule, it’s more common for them to feed at varying times from day to day, hour to hour. Paying close attention to feeding cues is important. 3. Feeding Cues Many of us are taught the classic hallmarks of a hungry baby : balled up fists in the mouth, rooting and searching behaviors (moving the head around in search of a breast), and mouthing motions (opening of the mouth, sucking sounds, etc.). However, few of us know that a baby can quickly transition from this active, “hungry” state to an agitat-
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ed stage. A frustrated baby is difficult to feed. It’s ideal to soothe an upset baby before trying to attempt a feeding, especially if the newborn is still learning to latch and feed. One of the best times to feed a baby, who is still learning and possibly struggling, is during a light sleep, such as REM sleep; keeping baby close to you is helpful in catching this. Wait until you can see eyeball movement under the eyelid. Baby might also exhibit muscle spasms, or raise his arms above his head. These are the signs that it’s the ideal time to start skin to skin and then transition into a nursing session. The best part about initiating a feeding during this state is that it allows you to pass through three different states of activity in hopes of achieving a successful nursing session before you have an upset baby on your hands. It allows for a more relaxed feeding attempt. It’s critical that we respond to feeding cues accordingly; even a well-meaning diaper change can undermine a successful feeding.
Your hand should be at the base of the neck, providing support, but not applying pressure to the back of the head. Ideally, she will come toward the breast nose-to-nipple, and tilt her head back with her mouth open WIDE, returning to the breast quickly. The lips should be tightly sealed, at about a 140-degree angle. As Lactation Professionals, there is much more that we are looking for when we assess a latch and feeding. However, this will give you an idea of the fundamental characteristics of an optimal latch.
5. When To Redirect What is your comfort level while nursing? When breastfeeding with an optimal latch, you should feel firm pressure. The best way to give you an example of this is to have you hold out your left hand, fingers together, and thumb extended to the right. With the index finger and thumb of your right hand, repeatedly pinch (not using the nails) the thick fleshy part between the index finger and thumb on your left hand. Use this as a gauge of what you should feel while breastfeeding. If you feel anything other than firm pressure, 4. Latching How is the baby positioned as you especially pain, unlatch by breaking attempt to latch to the breast? She the seal with your finger, and begin should have her shoulders square fac- again. ing toward you. Where is your hand?
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Do not allow your infant to cause you pain. He will learn how to latch optimally at your direction. If he becomes frustrated or irritable during the feeding unlatch him and help him transition to a more desired state: go back to skin to skin, change positions, sing, and soothe him until it’s productive to attempt feeding again. Patience and persistence are key. Having to unlatch and redirect feedings is not an indicator of your ability or success as a mother, or regarding breastfeeding. It’s normal! While it can be frustrating, it will also be incredibly rewarding when the two of you have mastered this dance together. Remember, the above points are only a baseline for you to know what breastfeeding should and shouldn’t feel like, in addition to basic ways to troubleshoot and redirect a feeding. The sooner we can teach an infant to nurse at the breast the easier it will be. If you are experiencing pain, or baby is experiencing difficulty latching to the breast despite your best efforts to guide her, please reach out of a Certified Lactation Professional as soon as possible. With the right support, you will be all your baby needs.
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Peaceful Parenting is for All Children | by Megan Stonelake
A few months ago, I wrote an article about why my husband and I don’t use timeout as a form of discipline. I talked about how we instead focus on creating a strong connection in which our son is naturally more inclined to cooperate. The response I received was a mixed bag. Lots of people felt very validated by it, and others bristled at what they perceived as a criticism of parents who use timeout. One comment I heard several times over was, “Clearly you have an easy kid who never needs a time out.”
another way. And I can understand why parents would think that maybe some kids are just so easy that they never “need” a timeout, but that their spirited child needs strong discipline. But here’s what I’d like to say about that: peaceful parenting is for ALL kids. It’s not just for the easy ones. Actually, it’s most important for the kids who aren’t so easy. The day-today breakdown of what this means will look different in different homes, but the overall philosophy benefits all families.
My intention wasn’t to criticize parents, merely to illustrate that there’s When we emphasize connection NATURAL MOTHER MAGAZINE | 25
to the exclusion of timeouts, it’s because when our son feels a strong connection to us, he knows we’re on his team and wants to cooperate with us. And when his emotions get the better of him, what he needs is help, not distance. Certainly great parents who have a secure attachment with their children use timeout for discipline, but it’s undeniable that the very act of putting a child in timeout is a separation, a break from our attention and connection. For kids who are less than easygoing, this can feel isolating and, if they are prone to strong emotions, scary.
My son is eloquent, funny, and lovely. But he is not easygoing. He has never been easygoing. He has a tender heart and feels deeply. This is beautiful to see and can also mean that sometimes his frustration gets the better of him. Recently he had a meltdown when I had to speak to my mom as she left our house. He screamed, hit me, and tried to bite me. Had I put him in time out, it’s very unlikely he would have stayed. This likely would have lead to a power struggle and could have escalated the situation. His brain was in “fight” mode, and he was incapable of calming himself down. Rather than leaving him alone to figure out his feelings, I stayed with him and kept him safe. I held his arms as he was trying to hit me and repeated the simple phrase, “I won’t let you hit me.”
Spirited and sensitive children have bigger emotions, and they have a more difficult time taming them. I’m sure many a parent has witnessed an interaction between my son and me and thought, “What that kid needs is a timeout!” But leaving him alone with his big emotions wouldn’t serve my son. It wouldn’t teach him Within a few minutes, he had calmed or convey to him that I can manage down and was crying in my arms. his feelings, even when he can’t. He asked for a snack, and I realized he hadn’t eaten in hours. His blood Every child is hardwired for connec- sugar was low, making it even more tion and closeness with us. Peaceful difficult for him to regulate himself. In parenting honors that innate drive. that moment I recognized that while Peaceful parenting means recog- his behavior was his choice, I hadn’t nizing our children’s developmental exactly set him up for success. needs and limitations, and working with who our children are, rather After a snack, my son was ready to than who we want them to be. process the meltdown. He identified that sometimes when his mind is 26| NATURAL MOTHER MAGAZINE
racing, he feels like he can’t control his body. He described in detail the thoughts and sensations he experiences, and he talked about the frustration and anxiety he feels when he loses control.
rified by his own behavior, I continued to love and accept him. He also knew I wouldn’t allow him to harm me and would maintain a clear boundary. This approach might seem like more work than timeout, but I assure you it’s worth it. The entire exchange took less than ten minutes, and the end result was a sense of collaboration, cooperation, trust, and connection.
I explained why it’s important for me to stop him from hitting me. We discussed consent, respecting other’s bodies, and practicing safer ways to manage his big feelings. We also talked about how important it is that Just as peaceful parenting benefits we both make sure he’s getting all children, all parents are capable enough to eat. of making the conscious shift from punishing to offering compassionate We problem solved and my son had boundaries. It takes practice, and an opportunity to apologize. How- sometimes we will lose our tempers. ever, his apology wasn’t forced or However, our overall intention will contrived. It wasn’t a necessary step change from one of asserting conto be freed from a timeout. He lis- trol to one of teaching new skills. tened to how I was feeling, and he naturally empathized with me and Dismissing peaceful parenting as a apologized for how his behaviors af- philosophy that works for “easy” chilfected me. dren is to rob your family of new information. Sometimes truly listening In short, I made sure my frustration to our children and recognizing their level didn’t rise to match my son’s, needs make them appear “easy” and I provided a safe container for from the outside, so it’s quite possihis meltdown. In the aftermath, I ble that children in peaceful homes didn’t punish or shame him for hav- do seem easier. It’s also possible that ing a problem. I assured him that I they aren’t. It isn’t helpful for us to will be present for him the next time view our children in terms of “easy” he struggles and together we’ll work or “difficult.” There are only children toward a solution. with different temperaments and individual needs. Honoring this fact is My son knew I was on his team. He what peaceful parenting is all about. knew that even when he was horNATURAL MOTHER MAGAZINE | 27
TOOTH DECAY Caused by Lead Poisoning, & What You Can Do Now | by Guggie Daly
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Enamel hypoplasia and caries in primary (baby) teeth is an ongoing epidemic in our country. Despite widespread implementation of fluoride, and widespread awareness on proper bottle habits and brushing hygiene, most children experience caries.
cess to healthy food.
But, when I looked at socioeconomic status being a factor, it reminded me of another public health issue: Lead poisoning. The lower the socioeconomic level, the higher the Blood Lead Levels (BLL) are in children. I wondered if there might be a One thing thatâ€™s universally accept- connection. Hereâ€™s what I found. ed in the tooth decay topic is that the lower the socioeconomic status Lead exposure, especially chronof the family, the more likely the child ic lead exposure, is associated with is to experience decay. This could numerous concerning health issues. obviously be for several reasons such The populations most at risk are inas less education and restricted ac- fants and children, because lead
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specifically damages the developing brain. And a developing brain is necessary to build healthy teeth. One of the strongest pieces of evidence is this study, which found that the higher the BLL in the child, the more likely the child was to experience tooth decay: “In the study funded by the National Institutes of Health, Moss and Lanphear found that in children each increase in blood levels of lead of 5 micrograms per deciliter boosted risk of tooth decay 80 percent.
These homes are more likely to have lead contamination and these children are thus at increased risk for chronic lead exposure. Coupled with a tight budget resulting in restricted access to ample amounts of healthy food, and we have the perfect storm for damaged teeth and bones.
But, wait, there’s more! Many parents might think to themselves, “Okay, we need to change this so that our fellow parents on stricter budgets can protect their children. My home is newer and lead-free, though. So this “Lead is a systemic toxin that affects isn’t the cause of my children’s devirtually every organ system, even at cay.” levels previously thought to be low,” says Lanphear. “This study helps to And that’s where the rabbit hole explain the disproportionately high went deeper. As I continued to read rate of cavities among inner-city about lead exposure and its conchildren. Despite the decline in chil- nection to teeth, I realized that this dren’s blood lead levels, lead expo- is a transgenerational and pervasive sure remains a major public health environmental issue, meaning the problem that persists throughout issue was passed down from previadulthood and entails major medi- ous generations and that our envical and dental costs to the U.S. pop- ronment is heavily contaminated to ulation.” the point that we cannot eradicate it fully from our lives. No matter the Furthermore, this damage is am- socioeconomic level. plified when the body is nutritionally deficient. And here we have our Remember back when our councompounded socioeconomic con- try didn’t pay close attention to the nection between tooth decay and hazards of lead? We had leaded lead. Lower income families live in gas and leaded paint as the primaolder, poorly maintained housing. ry areas of contamination. But, even
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when public health officials realized the safety error, we were slow to adopt change. To this day, our country refuses to get serious about lead hazards and much of our country is contaminated with lead in some way. Our water, soil, and buildings all have some form of contamination. And even our mass produced items such as artificial Christmas trees, electrical cords, utensils and dishes, jewelry, toys, and more are lead contaminated. It’s a pervasive toxin and we all need to pay attention to it.
becomes a source of exposure to the developing fetus.” Incidentally, high lead exposure during pregnancy consistently causes low birth weight and preterm birth, two things which are epidemic in our society right now and responsible for a severe burden on the healthcare system in addition to much loss and suffering for families. The Centers for Disease Control points out that African Americans are 50% more likely to experience low birth weight and preterm birth, which continues to fit in with our findings that lower income families housed in higher lead areas Many people falsely believe that are being poisoned at higher rates. since they were exposed to tons of lead “back in the day” and are fine, Now, that’s acute poisoning. What therefore, lead concerns are a false about when the baby is born a alarm. What they don’t realize is that healthy weight after a healthy geslead causes the most problems to tation? What does chronic, low level the smallest in society. That is, the lit- lead poisoning look like in a middle tle fetus, the tiny tot, and the rapid- class home that allegedly got rid ly growing brain of a young student of the lead problem? What about represent the ones most likely to be when the mom only releases a little damaged by low levels of lead. bit of lead through the placenta and through her breast milk? The reason it’s important to realize this is because we have medical That’s where the tooth decay topic literature showing that the moth- comes to mind. Lead is so carefully er’s body can release lead from her stored by the body in the teeth that bones during pregnancy, transfer- researchers have discovered a way ring it to the fetus. The World Health to identify where you lived and your Organization lists succinctly on their lifestyle based on the form of lead website: “Lead in bone is released and where it’s found in your mouth. into blood during pregnancy and Storing lead in the teeth means the
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body isn’t storing what’s needed for strong, healthy teeth, such as calcium and phosphorous. I wasn’t surprised when the next study I read connected tooth loss to lead exposure. We can confirm this in the medical literature by looking at the mechanism of lead uptake. How does the body absorb lead and store it away? Numerous studies show us that lead competes with calcium at the calcium receptors in the body. So when the body needs to absorb and use calcium, it can become confused and instead ends up absorbing lead. The body absorbs even more lead when deficient in calcium. The results are so compelling, and lead is so impossible to fully avoid in our environment, that I urge all parents to read this article from Lead.org on how to prevent this perfect storm from occurring for their children.
out that lead directly interferes with vitamin D processing in the body. In fact, researchers discovered that lead stops vitamin D from converting into its active form in the body. “Lead impedes vitamin D conversion into its hormonal form, 1, 25-dihydroxyvitamin D, which is largely responsible for the maintenance of extra- and intra-cellular calcium homeostasis. Diminished 1, 25-dihydroxyvitamin D, in turn, may impair cell growth, maturation, and tooth and bone development.”
So the teeth and bones don’t develop correctly when exposed to lead. Most people are familiar with this condition under the name “rickets” and think it’s related to severe poverty or times long past. What they don’t understand is that rickets can exist on a spectrum of severity, and be present right in our midst. In fact, mild rickets presenting in the teeth While I was looking at how all of these looks like thin enamel, poor dentin spinning plates are moving togeth- formation, and a tendency to develer to form a picture, I found anoth- op tooth decay. er piece: vitamin D. Remember that our country is having a vitamin D cri- Starting to see the big picture? With sis, too. Thousands of mothers and lead disrupting multiple areas in the children are showing deficiencies. body at a very low and chronic level, This can easily be attributed to our children might look overall healthy modern lifestyle and the use of sun- on the outside, but have one anscreen. And yet, what if we forgot noying symptom: tooth decay. With another important factor? It turns over 50% of children in our country
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experiencing tooth decay, it’s clear that we can no longer claim moms aren’t doing a good job of brushing teeth. Or that moms are just giving too many juice boxes to their children. The medical literature shows us that this problem is related to several factors in our environment surrounding vitamin D, calcium, and lead. Finally, when we get past the soundbites about bad parenting, we find real information and thus the ability to empower ourselves to care for our children. It’s a bit infuriating isn’t it? How do you get the lead out? Chelation is poorly studied in our country. We have very few options. The main one is a drug with heavy side effects that can be administered orally, by IV, or as a shot. Most doctors do not offer this drug as an option for treatment unless the child is severely poisoned. Usually, the BLL must be 40-50ug for doctors to offer treatment. This is distressing because the CDC and WHO both warn that levels even as high as 10ug cause damage to developing children. At the same time, it’s understandable because the drug is poorly studied in the pediatric population and has side effects. Turning to natural remedies, a few contenders stand out in the medical literature including vitamin C, raw
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garlic, and melatonin. All of them are very promising, but lack human studies for lead chelation. Vitamin C has been studied the most, primarily in rats. It appears to leach lead extremely effectively at high dosages. Researchers are unsure what the dosage would be for humans, though. The next, raw garlic, became famous because researchers studied it against chelation drugs and found that it outperformed the drug, with the added bonus of not having any side effects. This study was performed with humans who had high BLLs. The results were so good that the researchers concluded, “Therefore, garlic can be recommended for the treatment of mild-to-moderate lead poisoning.” The catch? The researchers used a massive amount of allicin, which is an extracted chemical from garlic. This might not be available to parents on a budget and children might not be able to swallow it or tolerate it easily. Finally, melatonin turns out to be a potent lead chelator. This ties into my previous article about melatonin being an immune system component as its first job in our body, despite most people only knowing it for its role in the circadian rhythm. Not only does melatonin chelate lead, but it also has strong antioxidant 34| NATURAL MOTHER MAGAZINE
mechanisms to “scrub free radicals” as the term goes. Researchers have looked closely at how melatonin protects the kidneys and liver from lead damage, but it has only been in rat studies. Nonetheless, this might explain why many children with ADHD and ASD symptoms respond well to melatonin. Hyperactivity, violence, anti-social behavior, speech delay, stimming, etc are all signs of lead poisoning. These children might be carrying a burden and the melatonin is helping them. For accuracy and empowerment, I’ve listed the 3 highest performing natural remedies for leaching lead. BUT. Please remember to always partner with a medical professional before beginning any kind of treatment on your children. When it comes to lead, it’s all the more important to get a baseline before treating. So if you’re worried that your child might have a lead burden, please go in for testing first. While there, you can do vitamin D and calcium testing to piece together the individual puzzle for your child. Once you have lab results, then you can begin to look at the natural options with your child’s doctor to figure out what works best for the individual situation. The answer to your child’s long term health and well-being might very well be hiding in that stubborn cavity!
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1 in 7
POSTPARTUM DEPRESSION | by Annabele Grace
1 in 7 mothers in the U.S. today report experiencing postpartum depression or anxiety. Among lower socio-economic groups, the numbers jump to 1 in 4 women. It takes many forms. It may not look like what a woman or her family thinks depression or anxiety look like. You cannot always tell a mom has postpartum depression just by looking at her. She may think it’s just her, that there is something intrinsically wrong with her. She may need medication or counseling or both or neither. She may get the help she needs or she may suffer alone. She may very well believe that it is because of something she did or didn’t do. And she may think of a million things that if only could change, she would feel like herself again.
But often the truth is that if you are that mom, “yourself” is a foreign concept. You might not know where to find her if you even had the chance to go looking between feedings and diaper changes. That is because she is gone. Forever gone. There is a new you emerging but you haven’t met her yet. And then there is this strange, precious tiny bundle of constant need snuggled in your arms. You, but not you. Your body, yet not your body, an extension of your heart, and yet also alien. 1 in 7 is what the stats are. But we know it is probably much higher. It was me too.
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In the last few decades, the U.S. has made great strides in recognizing the millions of Americans living with chronic and often debilitating mental health conditions and reducing the stigma around seeking treatment. While we still have a ways to go in creating accessible and affordable programs for all who need them, the ongoing conversation in mainstream media has begun to shift in a positive direction. And recently a few celebrity moms have spoken out about their own struggle with postpartum depression. But maternal mental health still seems to carry a particular charge. “How much crying is normal?” I asked the doctor over the sound of my son’s screams, while I bounced and patted and rocked and walked and sweated, bleary-eyed, and with my throat raw from the pain of swallowing my own scream. “Some babies just cry a lot,” she said gently, reassuringly. But secretly, I was kind of wondering about me. Because the truth was, we spent whole days crying, he and I. Here I had this beautiful, perfect little boy who in all respects was deemed healthy but who howled like his in-
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sides were twisted, with an intensity meant to drown all other sound, all other need or thought except the sheer urgency of alleviating suffering. But there was no soothing. Colic, they said. “The most important thing is that you get yourself some support,” the doctor went on. You don’t understand, lady. The only thing I need is for my baby to stop crying. Then everything will be fine, I thought. Depression and I have a history. But had I even allowed myself to think about seeking help, I was well acquainted with the out of pocket expenses for therapy and medication. At the time I had no medical coverage and my family was barely getting by. In the past few years I had worked hard and developed a strong set of tools to help me navigate and see myself through the low times. However, blindsided by traumatic a delivery and the unprecedented level of demand on the physical, mental, and emotional levels, my tools were simply too far out of reach. Deep down I really believed that it was just me. What was wrong with me that I felt like I couldn’t do what women had been doing for millions of years, what seemed to come naturally to every mother around me?
A year and half or so after that day in the doctor’s office, I had a conversation with a mom friend about her postpartum experience. She says she wished there were some kind of hotel or care center that new moms could check themselves into for a few days and compassionate staff would care for the baby, offer moms a hot shower, uninterrupted sleep, and nutritious meals until she re-couped her strength to feel like she could keep going. Kind of like triage for moms and babies. A place where a mother could go and say, “I need help,” without fear of being judged. And I just thought, why is this such a crazy idea? Why does this not exist? We know that having this kind of support changes outcomes for moms and babies. We know about the importance of healthy bonding and attachment for mothers and infants in the earliest stages. And yet I talk to so many mothers who felt utterly overwhelmed and alone during the early months of motherhood, who live in a state of constant adrenal-fatigue, who can’t remember the last time they showered or ate a full healthy meal uninterrupted. Yet the concept of what new motherhood really looks like still seems to be mostly lost on larger society.
Newborn needs, post pregnancy hormones, physical trauma, lack of adequate rest and nutrition, and then add major identity shift, relationship stress, pressure to go back to work, financial strain, plus whatever-specific-challenge-you-got, and it’s a straight up malatov cocktail. That’s not to mention the the pressure to get back “in shape,” lose the pregnancy weight, reconnect with your partner, etc. It is a wonder that the stats aren’t much higher. Our culture is among the least supportive of their needs and yet there seems no other demographic we judge more harshly than mothers. Right now, thousands of mothers feel alone and scared to speak up out of intense fear that to confess the need for help equals admitting incompetence. The heartbreaking reality is that thousands of women will actually believe the lie that they are failing at motherhood when the truth is we were never meant to do it all alone. We were meant to be having babies and raising children in a community, surrounded by our village, our people, our fellow women. Birth was meant to be treated as sacred initiation, a rite of passage, marking a major life transition in a woman’s life. Historically, the very
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vulnerable time following birth held much more significance in the past than it does today. Customs vary across cultures but often for a period of 30-40 days mothers were were attended to on physical, emotional and spiritual levels with ritual, special food preparations, and healing herbs. Women were allowed to process and heal and step into their new role as mother in a space that revered birth as the powerful and transformational event that it is. Unless we are really fortunate, most of us do not have this postpartum experience. Most of us don’t have our mothers, grandmothers, aunts, cousins, or sisters down the road sharing food and childcare and tending to each other post-birth. And even if and when we do have all the support and time and space to heal and process and still feel the weight or sadness, grief, rage or crippling fear, can we give ourselves permission to let that be part of the mysterious process that marks a woman’s sacred journey into motherhood? Could we honor it for what it is, speak openly and seek the help that we need without shame, instead acknowledging it as a valid part of our story? Why do we insist that motherhood is all light when in reality it is a human drama of the most epic proportions played
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out in the most common, mundane moments of daily life? It is all of it. I have talked to so many women with such different stories about labor, delivery and recovery, it is high time that we expanded our notion of what a “normal” postpartum period looks like to include every woman’s experience. I wonder now if I had given myself permission to have my own authentic experience without all the judgment and shame, how that first year would have been different. Because what my depression was telling me was the truth. I was very fortunate to become a mother to a beautiful little boy. But what is also true was that he screamed almost continuously for 5 months. There was no sleeping through the night until he was over two years old. The simple act of feeding my child was heart wrenching, complicated, and tremendously stressful. The truth was, there were days I was in so much pain I sobbed just leaning over the bassinet to lift him. The truth is I went back to work too soon and worked two jobs nearly full time while caring for my infant at the same time which is only possible if you give up eating and sleeping, basically. I was completely numb. And yet when people asked
me how I was doing, I said, “We’re good!” and forced a smile while on the inside I wondered how I was going to survive the next 24 hours. But somehow I still didn’t feel like there was room for my real experience within the socially misconstrued idea of what motherhood should feel like. (When someone asks, “How do you like being a mother?” they aren’t really looking to hear that you feel like you are in a nightmare you can’t wake up from.) The truth was that I felt let down and betrayed by the reality of giving birth, left alone to flail and grapple with deep fear, inadequacy, loneliness and pain, robbed of the experience of becoming a mom that I had dreamed of my whole life and silenced by a prevailing myth that I should be this happy, glowing, grateful image of a new mom. I was angry but there was no one to be angry with. So I swallowed it and smiled. I was deep in grief but grieving is not something typically associated with the first year of motherhood, AKA: the happiest time of your life. I didn’t want the label of PPD, I wanted someone to validate that what I was experiencing was legitimately difficult. That under these circumstances any normal person would
have a hard time feeling blissed out. I wanted someone to say that it wasn’t just hormones, it wasn’t just sleep deprivation, it wasn’t just the colic. I wanted permission to feel like this was the hardest thing I had ever endured and that I didn’t have to do any more than to endure it. And this is the truth: we deserve more and we deserve better. No mother should suffer in silence. No woman should be forced to go back to work until she feels healthy and capable. Every single birth and postpartum period should be recognized as a process as unique and sacred as each mother and each child. And every single mother has the right to her experience and to the support that she needs. This is why I choose to tell my story. There are many factors that go into maternal mental health. I am not suggesting that all we need to “cure” maternal mental illness is a community of herb-wielding wise women and extended paid parental leave. But as a culture we could begin by recognizing birth and motherhood for what they are. Not just a marker point on the timeline of a life, but the most momentous and vulnerable
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time in the life of any woman who about her life? The world would split chooses to mother a child, and a open.” pivotal and irreplaceable period of bonding with a new baby. It is time we told the truth and allowed it to set us free. Most of us would find the practice of forcing a woman to labor and deliv- My journey back to health took time. er in silence barbaric and utterly cru- I eventually got health insurance, el. Would we then silence her call put myself in therapy and got diagfor help after the fact? Would we tell nosis and treatment for my physical her she should be stronger, that she symptoms. I recommitted to yoga should be able to handle it on her and my meditation practice, and own, that this is what motherhood is, reached out and asked for help from to swallow to her own screams, her my community. Three years later, I tears and her truth while she nurs- love being a mom. My son is thrives that baby through another long, ing and our bond is stronger than lonely night? Would we relegate her ever. I am in awe of him every day again to quiet indentured servitude and amazed that I helped to create to an outmoded and incendiary ar- this little person. I love watching him chetype? grow and become more of himself. After all of that crying he turned out Would we perpetuate the myth that to be a pretty well-adjusted, hapto be a woman is to suffer in silence? py-go-lucky kid. And I get why peoWomen of a society steeped in patri- ple do it more than once. Still when archy, we are fooling ourselves if we I’ve gotten some version of the inthink we haven’t played a part in the evitable question, “So do you think gruesome history of whitewashing you’ll have another?” I glance over the shadows out of what has previ- my shoulder at the still-fresh trail of ously been the most sacred feminine sweat, tears, and bloodied fingerrite, of wiping away the afterbirth as nails I left as I clawed my way inch quickly as possible, in essence, of by inch back into the land of the livsanitizing the story of motherhood. ing. And I shudder. I know there are no guarantees. And while finding The poetess Muriel Rukeyser (1913- myself recently a single parent and 1980) wrote in 1968, “What would the possibility less likely than ever, I happen if one woman told the truth know that life is unpredictable. So I
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just say, “We’ll see.” “Isn’t it just the best thing in the whole world??” A friend gazes at her fresh newborn nuzzling at her breast. And I have to admit that there is nothing in the world like feeling that sweet weight resting in your arms or asleep against your chest. I have craved that feeling since I was a girl. And I looked with happiness at my friend who had the unmistakable look of a new mother: bleary-eyed, lovedrunk, and just beginning to realize that she had no idea what she’s in for. I pause, feeling my heart ache with the intensity of love for my son who was once just as tiny, back when
we were just learning who each other was. “Yes,” I say, “It is.” And for once I know it’s true. It is all of it. “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.” - Charles Dickens
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GUIDEBOOKS FOR POSTPARTUM HEALING | by Holly Scudero
in the shuffle of newborn care. While no one would try to claim baby isn’t important, the fact of the matter is that birth—even a normal, healthy, low-risk birth—is a traumatic bodily event. After giving birth, our bodies have a huge adjustment to make as the uterus returns to its pre-pregnancy size, hormone levels fluctuate, extra bodily fluids are lost, and our bottom areas heal from stretching and tears. Add to that the state of sleep deprivation that tends to be inherent in new parenthood, a lack of help when family is too far away, and the pressure to return to work And once baby is born, it often seems mere months or even weeks after like mama is more or less forgotten the birth, and it’s not surprising that In our society, as in most Western societies, the main focus during pregnancy, birth, and beyond is ultimately on the baby. Women deal with standardized prenatal care, including tests and sometimes uncomfortable procedures, for the sake of their baby. Most women birth in a hospital because they believe (or have been led to believe) it’s the safest for baby. Women endure interventions, sometimes medically necessary but more often not, because their caregivers say they’re necessary for a healthy baby.
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our country has higher rates of postpartum mood disorders than in many other parts of the world. Simply put, our society does not really seem concerned about postpartum healing on the womanâ€™s part. In other parts of the world, however, there are many rituals and traditions surrounding the postnatal period. Women are fed specific foods, given massages, offered herbal concoctions, and recommended other treatments that allow their bodies to heal while giving them time to focus on learning to care for baby. Wouldnâ€™t it be beautiful if such care was standard everywhere? It may not be common practice, but there are a number of books out there that can help women develop their own postpartum plan. These books can help women adjust their diets to promote tissue healing, regulate hormones, and increase breast milk production, use herbs to deal with common post-birth complaints, utilize rituals to mentally process the birth, and so much more. Our society may not value postpartum care as a whole, but individual women still have the option of researching different ideas and incorporating them into their own postbirth healing plans! The books below provide wonderful places to start.
The Mommy Plan by Valerie Lynn Author Valerie Lynn gave birth to her child in the United States, but prior to that had spent many years living in Malaysia. She couldnâ€™t help but be struck by the differences between styles of postpartum care in the two countries, and by how prevalent postpartum depression was in America compared to in Malaysia. In America, not only were many postpartum practices common in othNATURAL MOTHER MAGAZINE | 45
er parts of the world conspicuously absent, but it was also hard to find herbs and other supplies. Her book aims to help women utilize traditional practices in order to promote proper healing. She discusses (temporary) dietary changes, activities women should (and should not) partake in, personal care, belly wrapping (for mommy and baby), and more.
Healing Your Body Naturally After Childbirth by Jolene Brighten Jolene Brighten is a naturopathic doctor who specializes in many aspects of postpartum care, and she recognizes that many women don’t have access to simple, easy-to-follow information on post-birth care. Her book is designed to provide that information. It’s broken down in such a way that women can easily find the information that matters most to them, be it information on easing discomforts related to breastfeeding, vaginal healing, mood regulation, thyroid care, and more. She includes simple tips to help in these areas, recipes for foods that contain healing properties, herbal remedies, and recipes for self-care items. This is a great book for postpartum women who don’t have a ton of time to read but need ideas ASAP. Natural Health After Birth by Aviva Jill Romm Motherhood is a balancing act, and this is never more apparent than during those first few exhausting weeks and months. Self-care is more essential in the beginning than ever, but it’s also the time when women are the most overwhelmed, have
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Mothering the New Mother by Sally Placksin This book may be more than 15 years old, but the advice within is still so very timely! Author Placksin spent three years researching postpartum practices, and the text of the book is sprinkled with stories from both her own experience and the experiences of many other mothers. Not only will this book help readers prepare a postpartum plan ahead of time, but it offers on-the-spot advice for a wide variety of issues that women
the least help, and feel the most pressure to get it together. This guidebook from midwife and doctor Aviva Romm is full of practical advice to help the immediate postpartum period go smoother. There are recipes, herbal supplements, gentle exercises, and plenty of practical tips on how new moms can get the rest they need, establish breastfeeding successfully, eat healthy, and, most importantly, recover from the ordeal of giving birth.
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may need answers on now: actual physical healing, breastfeeding, returning to work, managing as an at-home mom, and more. Placksin’s book will help mothers navigate this tricky transformative time.
The First Forty Days focuses primarily on self-care, encouraging women to develop support networks before giving birth so that others can help with housework and errands, and to prepare for the postpartum period by stocking the freezer and pantry The First Forty Days with foods, to make sure they have by Heng Ou access to healing foods during that vital recovery period. This book is full After her own postpartum experi- of good ideas for new mamas, their ences, Heng Ou gained a keen un- partners, and their friends and famiderstanding of just how much soci- ly. ety tends to neglect, to drop new mothers. Since then, she’s founded After the Baby’s Birth… A Woman’s a company, MotherBees, and writ- Way to Wellness ten this book to help support wom- by Robin Lim en as they transition to parenthood. Many women feel that traditional
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postpartum care leaves them somehow bereft, that nothing is done to address their spirits and the incredible loneliness that can set in after the visitors have gone home. Author Robin Lim’s book on postpartum care was one of the first out there, and it’s packed with plenty of information to both provide answers and soothe a woman’s need for connection with other mothers. This book approaches the postpartum period from a holistic perspective, discussing physical healing, mental adjustments, exercise, nutrition, sleep, self-care, and more.
The Post-Partum Bible by Joel S. Colton When it comes to postpartum health, sometimes new mamas and their families just want straightforward answers—medical facts to put their minds at ease, with perhaps less of a focus on inspiration. This book focuses specifically on the more medical side of recovery: the healing of tears and episiotomies, uterine recovery, breastfeeding discomforts, resuming sexual activities, and postpartum depression, among other topics. This book is straight and to the point, and packed with valuable information.
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Life Path Reading by Victoria Lagerstrom of Soul Garden Companion
A time of movement and change, big winds stir up the energy within and without as we prepare to take on our dreams with guided initiative. It may feel a bit chaotic when the powers of the universe wake us up from our winter slumber.
I called on my spirit guides to offer some support for the whirlwind month of March and this is what came through. Your growing faith in your path and your unique abilities is calling you to step into leadership and make powerful changes. The big winds of March clear the path so that you can follow your divine plan for this, the year of the Activist and spiritual warrior.
March sets the stage for powerful transformation. Trust that you will benefit from this unsettling shakeup that opens the way for your intuitive self to emerge and lead. Stay rooted to your divine source and remain centered. Gently allow your fear The divine feminine must continue to and embrace this time of blessed emerge despite powerful opposing forces and your contribution is essenchange.
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tial to this movement. Your inner healer and wise woman will make herself known to you if she hasnâ€™t already. New ideas come to your awareness as your heart awakens with many other hearts on the planet. Take the time to follow your longing. Let your voice be heard. Speak up about injustices in your community and the world as a whole. Discover what is important to you, or what breaks your heart, and use your unique skills to help your cause. Shine your light and inspire other waking souls to do the same. Allow your heart to be fully seen.
Your belief system was up for review this winter. You are emerging from this process with more clarity than ever before. Move out into the world with your newfound wisdom and go where the big winds direct you. Seek higher ground for a different perspective. If you live in a mountain area, communicate with the benevolent spirits in these high places. They will help raise your awareness so you can stay positive. Allow your guides to clear feelings of grief and self-pity. Stay with your truth and the forward movement of this pivotal time. Meditate and pray for peaceful change.
Call on the spirit of the cougar or Keep exploring your inner landmountain lion and it will teach you scape, your soul self. Work with your about initiative, courage, and grace. sixth (brow) chakra, your creative genius, and your visionary. Use creFeelings may run high as a result of ative expression and art as a stimuthe chaos within and without. If you lating force. Read poetry, listen to are experiencing discomfort and music, paint, and journal. Take long conflict in relationships, know that walks in beautiful places. you are meant to stand in your truth and assert yourself lovingly. This is not Movement and change are the a time to be timid or hold back. Your themes of this month. It may be guides will help you speak beautiful unsettling at first when your comwords that penetrate the heart of fort zone expands. Practice being your opponent. Peaceful solutions at home in your own being instead will be at hand. Stand tall in your stat- of looking outside yourself for comure and examine the situation with fort. Find out what helps you ground your heart and gut. Look at creative and come back to center. Does differences and see how they enrich your body have a way of telling you your relationships. Keep everyoneâ€™s when you are off balance? Learn to good in mind. listen to these signals and flow with 52| NATURAL MOTHER MAGAZINE
the natural rhythms of your life. Use a morning affirmation like “ I am rooted and I flow” or make up your own uplifting mantra. You could place a crystal by your bed to remind you of your new mantra. You are still working with your inner magician, planting seeds and setting powerful intentions that will soon sprout. Expect miraculous solutions to emerge. This is The Year for transformation and authentic expression. Avoid procrastination and self-sabotage. Your shadow self will fight you as you grow stronger in your knowing and resolve. Answer with fierce selflove and compassion. Go ahead with your dreams. Be courageous and go where your heart wants you to go right now. It has never been more important to support the continuation of life on our beautiful planet. The heart path is calling those who listen and more people are figuring out how they will contribute their unique gifts. The mindless busyness of our time is an epidemic of grand proportions but there is also awakening and courageous action. The Women’s March is a great example of this mobilization of the heart. This being said, I am a mother and I know how limited the time for growing and healing the soul can be. I
have made it a priority to stay connected to my longing and what I perceive to be my soul mission for at least a half hour every day. Some days it’s just about basic self-care and other days I am inspired to work on my creative projects. Tend your soul garden when you can and grow your dreams. We all experience the energetic ebb and flow in our lives. Learn to be ok with where you are. Establish healthy, nourishing routines that build your stamina. Be ready for when the tide comes in and you are given a chance to go out and leave beautiful prints of your unique heart.
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How to Decorate a Non-Toxic, Healthy Baby Room by Rebecca Evans, M.A.
It was love at first sight when I hugged my newborn baby in my arms. I was obsessed with keeping him healthy and safe. For the last couple of months before the birth I had worked excitedly creating a beautiful baby room. What I did not know then is that the products we use to decorate our new baby’s room may be toxic to our baby’s health.
orating, or doing other household maintenance activities, there is a potential for exposure to a varied mixture of chemicals which could be released into the air or on surfaces in varying amounts and over time.” This release of toxins into the air is called “off-gassing.”
Whether it’s buying new furniture, Fortunately, we can make choices painting the walls, or putting in new that will make our baby’s room a flooring, some newly purchased or much healthier place to grow. This is installed products could damage what I’ve learned since then: your baby’s health by “off-gassing.” According to the United States En- Your Baby’s Furniture vironmental Protection Agency (USEPA),“When renovating, redec- What are these possible
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chemicals that go into the air? The USEPA’s studies have found that Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC’s), toxic chemicals that off-gas, are “widely used as building materials and household products” which include “paints, varnishes, sealants, and adhesives.” The USEPA has found that the off-gassing of VOC’s “can cause a variety of health effects. . . The most common symptoms include eye, nose, and respiratory tract infections, headaches, and dizziness.” Also, “higher levels or long term exposure to VOC’s have been associated with more serious health impacts, such as “visual disorders, damage to liver, kidney and central nervous system, and cancer.” Included in the list of toxic VOC’s is formaldehyde, which like other VOC’s, can off-gas from products and materials used to redecorate. Formaldehyde is used to make composite wood products, particleboard, and medium density fiberboard. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in its report “Indoor Air Pollution and Toxic Materials,” finds that formaldehyde may cause “nausea, coughing, chest tightness, skin rashes, and allergic reactions.”
So, when you buy your baby’s crib and choose the baby room’s other furniture, don’t buy anything made of particle board, or if you have to, cover the particle board with a sealant that keeps the particle board from off-gassing, such as SafeCoat SafeSeal. Real wood sealed with non-toxic varnish or non-VOC paint is best. Polyurethane foam is often used to stuff couches, chairs, and pillows. The problem with polyurethane foam is that it’s treated with flame retardants, which have been shown to cause tumor growth, renal failure, urinary stone formation, liver damage, nausea, and other health problems. A petroleum product, polyurethane may also contain formaldehyde, benzene, and toluene. The scariest chemical on this list may be toluene. Consider this plethora of negative health effects it can cause: nausea, fatigue, weakness, confusion, spasms, tremors, imbalance, impairment of speech, hearing, and vision, and negative effects on coordination and memory. Further, toluene can cause liver and kidney damage and “toxicity to the nervous system” according to the EPA.
You have safer choices. Rather than Since babies are so small, they are using polyurethane, some compaeven more at risk for these health nies stuff furniture with cotton, wool problems. batting, or feathers. By the Pound 56| NATURAL MOTHER MAGAZINE
sells organic cotton/muslin pillow stuffing, down and feather, cotton batting, and 100% natural latex. Another company, Lee Industries, makes its products not only out of certified wood frames finished with formaldehyde-free stains, but also stuffs them with wool and organic cotton. Other companies that offer natural, non-toxic furniture alternatives include Ekla Home, Q Collection, Eco Balanza, and Cisco Homes. The fabric upholstery to cover your new rocking chair may bring toxins into your baby’s room as well. Dr. Myron Wentz and Dave Wentz, in their book The Healthy Home, recommends staying away, whenever possible, from acrylic, polyester, acetate, nylon, and triacetate because they contain petroleum products and pesticides. Wentz and Wentz further explain how perfluochemicals, or PFC’s, are added to these fabrics for stain and wrinkle resistance, and even more chemicals are added to these synthetic fabrics as flame retardants, usually “halogenated flame retardants,” which have “been linked to thyroid disruption, neurodevelopmental problems, and immune suppression.“ More natural alternatives to upholster furniture include organic cotton, cashmere, wool, linen, hemp and silk. More places to buy furniture
made with natural fibers include the websites Abundant Earth and Green Fusion. Even “huge retailers like Macy’s and Lowe’s adopted policies to eliminate toxic chemicals from their furniture” according to Safer Chemicals/Healthy Families. Walls: Paint and Wallpaper What you put on your baby’s walls may also be toxic. For instance, many paints contain VOC’s. Besides formaldehyde, paints may include benzine, which the USEPA classifies as a carcinogen. Because VOC’s like benzene and formaldehyde in paint have become a well-known concern, many companies now sell paint that is either low-VOC or noVOC. Some of these options include Benjamin Moore’s Natura Non-VOC line of paint. Wherever you purchase your paint, though, make sure both the base and tint are VOC-free. Wallpaper has traditionally been a popular choice for baby room walls, but there are some toxic dangers to it as well. Wallpapers may contain vinyl, phosphate, and other chemicals, not to mention what’s in the glues and adhesives to apply the paper to the wall. Luckily, non-toxic options exist. Non-toxic options for glues include Auro Wallpaper Paste (www.nigel/secostore.com), or Earthborne Wallpaper Paste. For NATURAL MOTHER MAGAZINE | 57
non-toxic wallpaper shop online at www.alibaba.com. Several established wallpaper manufacturers now make eco-friendly lines as well. Floors New parents often carpet their baby’s room. However, carpet can be harmful to the baby. Carpet is generally made out of nylon, olefin (polypropylene), and polyester. The carpet, padding, backings, and adhesives may contain the VOC’s xylene, styrene, benzene, and toluene. You can, however, find non-toxic carpet by buying organic carpet made from natural plant and animal yarns, says Alan Berman, author of The Naturally Healthy Home. Berman also suggests carpet underlays be “made with untreated wood felt matting on recycled rubber” and “backings of chemical-free jute or hemp.” Other non-toxic materials used for installing carpet include felt and natural rubber. You can shop online at Earth Weave Carpet Mills (www.earthweave.com). A less expensive choice: the Safecoat company sells SafeChoice Lock Out which, according to company advertising, seals off the outgassing of harmful chemicals of regular carpet. If you decide on wood flooring for
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your baby’s room, keep in mind that the same applies for wood flooring as for wood furniture. Engineered woods, also known as pressed wood, particle wood/board, or Medium Density Fiberboard (MDF) off-gas toxins. The CDC’s Healthy House Reference Manual recommends “no exposure or minimal exposure” to these engineered wood toxins. Use solid wood with non-toxic finishes. You can also purchase “Safecoat Safe Seal” which, the company asserts, can seal the processed wood to reduce formaldehyde off-gassing. Vinyl flooring is toxic because it’s synthetic, made out of PVC, and contains dangerous chemicals such as phthalates. You could use Safecoat Hard Seal on this as well, or go for non-toxic flooring choices like natural linoleum, which contains all natural ingredients (linseed oil, tree resins, limestone, corn dust, and wood flour). You can also put in flooring made of natural cork or bamboo. We want our babies to be healthy. Creating a new baby’s room free of toxins gives your baby a great start. For more information on making a safe home for babies, check the EPA and CDC websites.
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Sowing Seeds & Growing Weeds Start your Indoor Herb Garden Now | by Saidy Corneglio
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The last few weeks of winter seem to last forever. Visions of sunny days, blooming flowers, and the smell of fresh cut grass are comforting, but don’t extinguish that desire to get reacquainted with nature while getting our hands dirty. Luckily, there is something you can do right now to prepare for spring while getting a daily dose of Vitamin N – start your own herb garden, inside, right now.
Getting Started If you can follow a few simple rules, you can have success starting seeds:
No backyard to transplant your precious seedlings into this spring? No problem. Sunny windows can be excellent homes for both seedlings and more mature plants. Herbs are very resilient and most can grow in sub-optimal growing conditions, like in small pots with partial sunlight. So, whether you have a backyard, a balcony, or just a sunny window, you can start growing herbs today!
* Read your seed packets. They have a wealth of information about germination preferences, light requirements, how much water a plant needs, depth to sow, and when to transplant seedlings. Timing is everything.
First you’ll need to decide where your seedlings will end up: indoors in a pot or outdoors in a garden plot? How much sunlight will your plants get: full sun or partial sun? How much space do you have and how big will your plants grow? What herbs are you interested in growing: medicinal, culinary, or both? With just a little planning, you’ll be ready to hit the nearest garden store, select your seeds, and start sowing them.
* Light is very important. Some seeds need light to germinate and others don’t. But all seedlings, once germinated, need plenty of light to grow. That light can come from a sunny window or from full spectrum bulbs hung 4 inches above seedlings.
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* Use clean containers. You can use practically any kind of container that is at least 2 inches deep to start your seeds in as long as it has holes for drainage and has been disinfected before use by cleaning with hot soapy water.
* Use a seed-starting mix. Standard potting soil is too heavy for germination.
* Label everything. All plants have unique requirements so it’s important to keep track of who’s who as your seedlings sprout and grow.
* Transplant seedlings to pots or the garden after they get their “true” leaves, which are the fuller, firmer leaves that unfurl above the first set of “seedling leaves.” Below are some of the most versatile, easy-to-grow, and useful medicinal and culinary herbs. All of them are great for starting indoors and then transplanting to larger indoor containers or to the garden. Each herb listed includes some common uses along with some basic information to help you get started. Shop for heirloom seeds whenever possible, but whatever you bring home, make sure to follow the directions on the seed packet. Happy germinating! Medicinal Herbs to help with digestion and stomachaches, nausea and morning sickness, anxiety and restlessness, insomnia, teething pain, and general inflammation. Can be used externally on general skin afflictions like wounds and rashes.
Take natural healing to the next level, and grow your own medicinal herbs. Imagine your garden (or your luscious windowsill) supplying you with fresh chamomile tea, lavender for a dreamy bubble bath, or calendula flowers for that healing salve you’ve been meaning to make! Some ver- Sun/Shade: Full/Partial Sun satile and effective medicinal herbs Germination: 7 – 14 days Plant Preferences: During germinayou can start from seeds are: tion, seeds like a cool soil. A drier soil is best once the plant is established. Chamomile Annual/Perennial/Biennial: Annual Uses: Chamomile tea can be used Height: 1 – 2 ‘
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insomnia, depression, and restlessness. Lavender can also relieve itching from rashes or bug bites, and aids in healing minor burns. Sun/Shade: Full Sun Germination: 4 – 6 weeks Plant Preferences: Well-drained soil. Drought tolerant. Annual/Perennial/Biennial: Perennial Height: up to 2” Dandelion Uses: Dandelion is an incredibly effective yet gentle liver tonic and a kidney-loving diuretic. Dandelion is also completely edible: roots, flowCalendula ers, leaves, and all. It is very nourishing, and can be made into tea or Uses: Healing, soothing flowers are tossed into salads. excellent in salves and liniments used for general skin afflictions like rashes, Sun/Shade: Full/Partial Sun scrapes, scratches and chapped Germination: 7 – 21 skin. Calendula can be also be mas- Plant Preferences: Prefers wellticated and applied as a poultice. drained, fertile soil. Annual/Perennial/Biennial: Perennial Sun/Shade: Full Sun Height: 8 – 18” Germination: 7 – 14 days Plant Preferences: Pinch back spent flowers to keep bushy. Plantain Annual/Perennial/Biennial: Annual Height: 18” Uses: Anti-microbial and anti-inflamLavender matory, Plantain is particularly useful for insect bites, skin wounds, rashUses: Relieves symptoms of anxiety, es, cuts and bruises. Taken as a tea,
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Plantain can help with indigestion, fresh herbs to use in your next meal. pain from ulcers, and heartburn. Culinary herbs are very popular with gardeners the world over, and for Sun/Shade: Full/Partial Sun good reason: they add a wide variGermination: 7 – 14 days ety of flavors, textures and nutrients Plant Preferences: Prefers a cool, into the foods we eat! Some of the moist soil for germination. A true most flavorful culinary herbs to con“weed,” Plantain, once established, sider starting from seed are: will tolerate a wide range of soil conditions. Annual/Perennial/Biennial: Perennial Height: 8 -12” Yarrow Uses: Yarrow flowers’ anti-septic and anti-inflammatory properties are excellent for treating fevers, common colds and coughs. Yarrow can also help ease menstrual cramping pains, diarrhea, and stomach aches. Sun/Shade: Full Sun Germination: 8 days Plant Preferences: Requires little water. Drought resistant. Annual/Perennial/Biennial: Perennial Height: 24” Basil Culinary Herbs Uses: Basil has a strong, sweet aroThere is nothing quite like stepping ma and a peppery flavor. It is an esout into your garden (or over to your sential ingredient in Mediterranean lovely window) and snipping some cooking, and can be used in pasta
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sauce, pizzas, soups, and salads. Sun/Shade: Full/Partial sun Germination: 5-10 days Plant Preferences: Well-drained, evenly moist soil. Basil is very vulnerable to frost. Annual/Perennial/Biennial: Annual Height: 24”
pine. It is also a staple in Mediterranean cooking and pairs well with poultry, fish, pastas and couscous. Thyme is effective against infections, especially respiratory and digestive, and has been used medicinally for centuries due to its antibacterial properties.
Sun/Shade: Full Sun Germination: 10-15 days Thyme Plant Preferences: Thyme requires a Uses: Thyme’s aroma is herbaceous well-drained soil. and its flavor has notes of lemon and Annual/Perennial/Biennial: Perennial Height: 12”
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Uses: Oregano has a pungent, herbaceous aroma and a floral, citrus flavor. It is used predominantly in Mediterranean and Mexican cooking--a delicious addition to tacos, pastas, casseroles, and soups.
Uses: Chives have a similar but slightly more delicate aroma and flavor than their relatives onion and garlic. Chives are predominantly used in French cooking and are well suited to accompany egg dishes, salads, cheeses, sour cream, and potatoes.
Sun/Shade: Full/Partial Sun Germination: 7-14 Plant Preferences: Well-drained soil. Doesn’t require a lot of water. Annual/Perennial/Biennial: Perennial Height: 24”
Sun/Shade: Partial Sun Germination: 10-20 days Plant Preferences: Rich, well-drained soil. Water seedlings and young plants frequently. Annual/Perennial/Biennial: Perennial Height: 10-12”
Cilantro Sage Uses: Cilantro has a distinctive aroma both refreshing and peppery. It has a zesty flavor that people tend to love or loathe. Cilantro is widely used in cooking around the world, in places like Morocco, Thailand, Mexico, and India. It can be included in curries, rice dishes, soups, salads, tacos, noodles and tagines.
Uses: Sage has a musky aroma and a warm, spicy flavor. It pairs well with rich foods, so is often found in stews, stuffing, poultry, soups, potato dishes and breads. Sage tea is astringent and can help relieve itching. It also makes an effective antibacterial gargle for sore throat.
Sun/Shade: Full/Partial Sun Germination: 10-15 days Plant Preferences: Well-drained soil. Water young plants frequently. Annual/Perennial/Biennial: Annual Height: 12-22”
Sun/Shade: Full Sun Germination: 7 – 21 days Plant Preferences: Sage thrives in sunny, dry and well-drained soil. Annual/Perennial/Biennial: Perennial Height: 18 – 30”
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