Essential Oils

Scents have always had a way of calming people and bringing them back into a moment. I can always think back to my grandmother and the sweet smell of cinnamon warmed apples baking in her oven or walking through Fernwood in the spring to find myself greeted by lavender on the street corners. I can even remember the smell of eucalyptus being rubbed onto my chest when I was a sick child and needed to clear up my air passages.

If you take the natural oils from these substances—may the oils come from the roots, leaves, bark, stems, you are creating an essential oil. The processing isn’t as simple as just collecting the oils though. They will need to be distilled and cold pressed to extract the oils and this can take a lot of work but in the end, you are left with an essential oil. Most of us will choose to source out companies that have a respectable crop and harvesting system to buy essential oils from. With these oils, you can incorporate Aromatherapy into your daily routine. Aromatherapy is used to enhance physical and mental wellbeing by promoting relaxation, pain relief, emotional support, skin support and many other aspects of life by stimulating brain function or absorbing through the skin into the bloodstream. Many of the oils have antifungal, antiviral, soothing, calming, and nourishing qualities making them a useful alternative for not only our bodies but for cleaning surfaces as well. These qualities also make essential oils and the use of aromatherapy a perfect form of alternative medicine during pregnancy.

From reducing anxiety and tension to enhancing sleep quality, the use of essential oils can be blended into any trimester and labor. With a world of oils available, most women can find at least one or two scents that resonate with them during their pregnancy and can even be useful in their postpartum period. If you find an essential oil or blend that works with you, you may find it increases your quality of sleep, reduces tension and stress, balances the body, clears the skin, minimizes cold and allergy symptoms and increases your overall mood. When diluted, essential oils are safe to use on baby as well and can even help with diaper rash or increasing milk supply.

While there are three main ways to incorporate essential oils into your pregnancy, I am going to focus on two. The third way to use essential oils is by ingesting them and I do not want to promote ingestion as there are many different qualities of essential oils available and one kind may be harmful. The other two ways of using oils is aromatically and topically.

When using Essential oils aromatically, you can inhale the oils directly from the bottle, place a few drops onto your hands or use a diffuser and fill your home with the aroma of your choice. This is great for emotional support, respiratory support and sleep support. Try taking in a deep inhale of the scent while thinking your favorite mantra or qualities and feelings that you would like for you, your baby, and your family. On the exhales, breathe out qualities you don’t need or feelings that are holding you back. This practice is a great addition to your morning and nightly routine as it can set your mind up for a day of positive feelings and relieve any stresses at night that you might have picked up throughout the day. Try stimulation scents like citrus or peppermint in the morning and calming scents like lavender or sandalwood at night.

When using Essential oils topically, you can directly place the oils onto your skin or dilute them in carrier oil. This method is ideal for spot treating pains and skin irritations. It is also wonderful for immune support or allergy relief. It is always best to test the oils on a patch of skin before applying to multiple places on your body. I only apply oils directly to the soles of my feet and the palms of my hands. If I use them anywhere else, I dilute the essential oil in a carrier oil—usually coconut. Some other carrier oils are jojoba oil, almond oil, olive oil, avocado oil, calendula oil, or arnica oil (you can make a great muscle treatment for sore legs and joints). My favourite skin moisturiser is using a base of coconut oil (1/2 cup), shea butter (1/4 cup), add in two capsules of vitamin E, a pinkie nail sized dollop of rosehip oil, mixed with lavender and rose essential oils until you get a desired scent. You can also add a few drops of essential oils to water with a splash of witch hazel to make a facial toner—I like lavender, tea tree and rose.

Essential oils are a great way to enhance your pregnancy but there are some oils that come with warning. Clary sage is an amazing essential oil to use during labour but it should be left untouched in your pregnancy until you are full term. Its powerful induction properties can help jump start contractions and give baby the strength to move down the birth canal. Applying clary sage to the beautiful baby point (TCM) in my experiences can get baby moving quickly. You can also mix clary sage with coconut oil to smooth over your belly. A combination of clary sage, lavender, bergamot, grapefruit, peppermint and rose can be added into a spritz bottle to help relieve nausea during active labor and provide another wave of power for you to work with contractions. Sage can also decrease milk supply in not only essential oil form but as a culinary herb as well so once baby is here it is best to avoid it in all forms. Peppermint as we know is an amazing digestive aid especially when it comes to nausea. You can apply a few drops of peppermint to a warm facecloth and place over your eyes or around the back of your neck to relieve symptoms of a cold or headache. It should be used with caution in the postpartum period as it may decrease milk supply. That being said, if you are trying to decrease milk supply, you can combine peppermint and clary sage and rub onto your breasts as well as the highest point between your shoulders and neck and see if it will help.  Fennel can help with milk production if you apply it with a carrier oil or onto a facecloth compress onto the breasts. This essential oil should only be used for a few days at most as it may increase urination. If you have high blood pressure, it is best to avoid peppermint, rosemary and clove as they will increase your blood pressure.
If you are using essential oils on your breasts and are breastfeeding, it is important to wipe the breasts before a feeding period. Using a hot cloth, you can wipe the remaining essential oils from your skin. The oils will have already released their healing properties into your bloodstream after a few minutes of application so it is okay to wipe off if you need to feed right away.

Although essential oils are used to enhance your pregnancy instead of harm, they should always be used at your own risk. Each body will react to oils differently than the next and some scents may make you feel ill while others will invigorate you. If you are using scents during labor or having someone who is planning to make you a calming labor spray, make sure you are alright with the smell before you fill your birthing room with it. If you are birthing at the hospital, it is best to smell the oil directly from the bottle in respects to the other birthing mothers and sensitivities of staff.

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Here are a few of my favorite oils with their healing properties:

Lavender: Good for all stages in pregnancy, calming, reduces stress and tension, aids in postpartum depression, calms skin tenderness(acne, bruises, bumps, rashes), sleep support, seasonal allergy support, grounding, prevents stretch marks, helpful in healing after labor, decrease high blood pressure, mastitis, safe for household cleaning.

Lemon: Good for morning sickness, uplifting, seasonal allergy support, digestive support, aids in postpartum depression, increases lymphatic function, cools the body when applied to the feet, invigorating, great oil to use in the morning.

Bergamot: Uplifting and calming, relieves anxiety and tension, soothes muscles, cooling properties, balances female energies, aids in postpartum depression.

Rose: Promotes skin healing, relaxation, reduces scarring, promotes elasticity.

Peppermint: Aids in morning sickness, reduces headaches and tension, helpful during transition, mental clarity, helps urinate during labor, reduces nausea.

These are only a handful of oils and their descriptions. If there was an oil you are interested in using during your pregnancy, please feel free to e-mail me and I can give you suggestions on blends and application processes.

Ficus
http://www.ficusdoula.com
ficusdoulaservices@hotmail.com

Lactation Cookies!

They’re sweet, they’re nostalgic, we all want them exactly when they come out of the oven and the best thing overall is they help with milk production. Yes! Lactation cookies! 
Everyone can think back to a time when they were making or decorating cookies. Maybe it was for a potluck or a friend or you were at your grandmother’s house around a holiday.

One of my favourite memories with cookies was being very young:
I can’t remember how old I was but I could take a guess and say around 6. My Mother always loved baking and decorating cookies and cakes with us. Even though she has quite the sweet tooth herself and is notorious for eating our Halloween candy, picking the flavors of our birthday cakes, and hiding chocolate in her car (sorry mom. I can always find where you hide it), I am so thankful to be able to close my eyes and think of her and all the sweet activities she did with us. One night, my Mom brought home these sugar cookie decorating kits! Each kit came with a few cookies, a couple different coloured icings for us to decorate with and a little bag of sprinkles. I got a baseball and an ice cream cone cookie. As a child, I wanted to be a perfectionist and both of these cookies had some great line work involved. I sat for a long time trying to decorate these cookies to look like their 3D counterparts. My Mom kept my two sisters and myself so incredibly excited by complimenting us and wiping our hands to make sure we wouldn’t smudge color where we didn’t want to. She is a Supermom! I don’t know how the night ended.. Probably long past our bedtime with my Mother’s mouth littered with cookie crumbs but I still love her for bringing us a night of good fun.

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A picture of my mom and I in the early days.

During the postpartum period, gifts of meals, treats and supplies are always greatly appreciated. What does a mother love more than someone who does a load of laundry and dishes? Someone who does these chores and brings lactation cookies! As we know, breast milk and breastfeeding is not only beneficial for baby but helps the uterus contract to its pre-pregnancy size and can reduce the chances of a period with postpartum depression. Baby is getting colostrum and mass amounts of nutrients that are vital for their growth and development and mom is moving forward with her new way of being the provider. With a good latch and a good milk supply, mom and baby have a great opportunity to bond in a new way. Of course, some mothers find breastfeeding to be difficult or uncomfortable at times. Nutrition and overall health is necessary while you are breastfeeding and healing from the birth. If you were able to set up a meal train before the birth, ask for nutrient dense dishes that you can freeze for later dates. It is also important to take in a lot of liquids—you will be making enough milk for baby but you also need to keep yourself hydrated! If you are experiencing high amounts of stress, have something you need to talk about, had an unexpected birth outcome or are having a difficult time achieving a good milk supply, I suggest talking with your midwife, your doula, a La Leche League member, or a strong figure in your life that you feel comfortable with to help you find your breastfeeding solution.
I also recommend adding galactagogues into your diet. Galactagogues are substances that increase a woman’s lactation. You may already be consuming galactagogues in your daily diet like oatmeal, fennel or fenugreek, alfalfa or blessed thistle but it doesn’t hurt to try new things like hops or brewer’s yeast. In the lactation cookie recipe below, I have added in a blend of spices, brewer’s yeast, flax and oats that not only add flavor but help with milk production and overall health.

Although these cookies are aimed to help with milk production, they are healthy for the whole family too! Kids, males and tea dates will love to nibble on these wonderfully flavored morsels of comfort. If you make too many, they freeze great and can be saved for a later date or kept if you have a friend who is due around the same time as you.
 Try experimenting with dried fruit and chocolate, spices and seeds. I like my cookies a little less sweet with more flavorful chewy and crunchy bits in them so everything with a star can be altered to a little more or a little less depending on what you like. Overall, you want to aim to have about 1-1 ½ cups of nuts, fruit or chocolate but you can also leave all of these things out if you like a plain cookie. Same goes for the spices—I find it easiest to smell the dough as I go and add pinches of this and that until the dough is aromatic before cooking. You can always bake off one cookie part way through your experimenting to see what it will taste like. These cookies have a great base and great opportunity to be transformed for your taste buds.

 Spiced Lactation Cookies:

4 tablespoons warm water
2 tablespoons flaxseed meal
1 cup softened butter or alternative
2 eggs at room temperature- or an egg substitute
1 ¼ cup brown sugar- try coconut sugar or reducing to 1 cup
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups whole wheat flour- experiment with part coconut or almond flour!
3 ½ tablespoons brewer’s yeast- look for it at your local health food store
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
3 cups rolled oats
½ cup pumpkin, sunflower seeds or shredded coconut*
¼ cup chocolate chips*
½ cup dried fruit- try chopped apricots, prunes or raisins*
2 teaspoons cinnamon*
1 teaspoon ginger*
1/4 teaspoon fennel*
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg*
¼ teaspoon star anise*

Bake at 350 degrees
In a small container, mix flax seed and water together. Let stand for 5-10 minutes until they combine and turn into a goo-like consistency. While the flax and water are combining, measure out your dry ingredients (flour, brewer’s yeast, baking soda, salt, spices). In a stand up mixer, beat brown sugar and butter together. When the sugar mixture is lump free, add in your eggs and vanilla. Let the mixture combine until it is fluffy (5 minutes or so) and then add the flax seed. Once combined, add in dry mixture slowly so it doesn’t spray everywhere. I find it easiest to combine the wet and dry ingredients first with a spatula and then follow with the electric mixer. When the ingredients look well combined, fold in oats and dried fruit, nuts or chocolate.

Scoop batter with a tablespoon and roll into a ball in your hand. If you would like, you can now roll the mixture on a surface that has been dusted with seeds, oat pieces or coconut. I really enjoy rolling these cookies in coconut and flax. Press cookies onto greased baking sheet, 12 per sheet. If you wish, you can decorate the tops of the cookies with a few chocolate chips or seeds—again, I enjoy placing 6 pumpkin seeds in a circle facing inwards on top. If the cookies are a gift, the little bit of decoration can show a lot of extra effort and make them even more special to the recipient. Bake the cookies for 12-15 minutes, until the bottoms are slightly brown. If your oven bakes unevenly, turn the cookies at 6 minutes to get an even colour and equal cooking time on every cookie. Once the cookies are out of the oven, let them sit for 5 minutes before transferring.

Try and let the cookies cool for a few minutes before giving them a try. The aromatic warmth that comes from the mixture of all the spices will leave your home smelling delicious and your breast milk on its way!

Wishing you all a wonderful weekend,

Ficus
http://www.ficusdoula.com
ficusdoulaservices@hotmail.com

An Herbal World

Like a lot of people out there, I am a tea drinker. Hot tea, cold tea, tea that has been made into ice cubes, tea that I can add to the bath. Tea tea tea! Between all the flavours and colours in a tea bag are medicinal properties (proper-teas) that can enhance your pregnancy and help your uterus be as strong as it can be. Better yet, there are many herbs you can add into your teas before you get pregnant to give your body a healthy head start. Chances are you will be able to find most of these herbs in the forest, a friend’s back yard or at a local health food shop near you.
There is something so incredibly unique and instinctual about harvesting your own herbs. Having the ability to find and choose your own strength within the many strands of the forest can be a meditative experience.  I want to remind everyone who harvests their own herbs to only take a small of the crop and to stay away from areas with pollution.
I would also like to say that herbs you have enjoyed before you were pregnant can be harmful especially during the first and second trimester. As a good rule of thumb, it is best to avoid herbal medication at the beginning of your pregnancy. As I am not an Herbalist, I do recommend speaking with either your caretaker or an Herbalist in your community to see which herbs are good for you. Each pregnancy is unique, so something that can work for one mother-to-be can be harmful to the next. The best piece of advice I can give is to only take herbs you are comfortable with.
Herbs are meant to provide vital nourishment to our bodies while lifting the spirits. From nerve tonics to uterine tonics, the addition of herbs can truly make a difference in any ones day-to-day life.

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The tea below can be used in any trimester:

Floral Forests Maternal Tea:

Nettle 20g
Oat Straw 20g
Lavender 10g
Lemon Balm 20g
Rose petals 10g
Chamomile 20g

During your last trimester, you can add in Red Raspberry leaves to give your uterus extra support for labor.

Raspberry leaves 20g

Let this list of herbs be a starting point for herbs you use in your daily life. Feel free to add in different herbs and flavors like cinnamon bark or fennel seeds or less floral flavors if they are too strong for you.

With love and thanks,

Ficus
http://www.ficusdoula.com
ficusdoulaservices@hotmail.com

Making the most of Morning Sickness

Pregnancy is one of the most intuitive experiences a woman can go through in life. Feeling the changes within your body, you begin to bond with your child. With your womb as a home, your baby begins to grow and develop. All this change may not come easy at first though.

 During the first few months of pregnancy, you may experience Morning Sickness (nausea  gravidarum)—a common experience of the first trimester that can make some women very uncomfortable. Symptoms of nausea, vomiting, discomfort, tiredness, light headedness, heartburn, loss of appetite and a change in mood can be a sign of morning sickness.  Don’t let the name fool you either, morning sickness can happen at any point in the day depending on your body. But there’s a lot to understand about morning sickness and how to overcome many of the symptoms that come along with it.

Let’s stop and think for a second about the name: Morning Sickness. What kind of images does this bring to your mind?
 I used to think of morning sickness as a miserable sprint from bed to bathroom with some saltine crackers in between. This was my first mistake. Although morning sickness can cause a lot of discomfort, seeing it as a negative thing may make your symptoms control your life until they decide to pass. Morning sickness is thought to be your body’s way of dealing with the new surge of hormones that are being produced to help you along in your pregnancy. Yes, help you. It may be uncomfortable and overbearing but it can be an incredibly positive sign of a healthy start and that is what we should be focussing on. Part of the reason that we see it as such a negative thing could be because we don’t scientifically understand exactly what is going on inside of us.

 Once a fertilized egg is attached to your uterine lining, your body produces Human Chorionic Gonadotropin(HCG). This is the hormone that pregnancy tests are detecting in your urine. Although the reasons for morning sickness aren’t 100% clear, nausea usually starts with the production of HCG. This hormone is quick to double (usually every  48-72 hours) and can be detected in the body as soon as 11 days after conception. Around 13 weeks, HCG will come to your healthy hormone level (along with other hormones like estrogen) and symptoms of morning sickness will fade away.

When hormones like HCG, estrogen and progesterone are rising, women tend to experience a new level of sensitivity. This can make your regular stress limit change and create an abnormal response to situations that you may be used to. If you have an unhealthy amount of stress in your life or feel as if you’re in a constant state of fight or flight, you may experience harsher symptoms of morning sickness. Even the feelings brought up by the beginning of your pregnancy can cause stress that may lead to symptoms you weren’t expecting. It is important to diffuse this stress as much as possible—walk, yoga, stretch, sex, swim, sing, bake. Do what feels right for you!
 With this enhanced sensitivity also comes a new relationship with food. Some of the foods that you enjoyed before you were pregnant have the potential to make you feel sick. Your gastrointestinal tract is changing amongst other parts of your body and your stomach acids and flora may not enjoy some of your pre-pregnancy favourites. Even the smell of some of your meals (or others around you) can trigger your gag reflex and leave you without an appetite.

Another thought is that morning sickness is your body’s way of clearing toxins from your body. In a world where everything comes in a plastic container or from some sprayed field, your body may want to clear out some of these unwanted chemicals to rejuvenate a space for your baby’s growth. A fetus does not have a liver to defend itself, so the mother’s body does the work.

 Although not all women will experience morning sickness, the ones who do can consider it to be the start of a healthy pregnancy. More than half of all pregnancies start with signs of sickness and can last for days or weeks. If you are not experiencing morning sickness at the beginning of your pregnancy, do not be alarmed. During this period, it is important to remember that each body is unique in its way of accepting the hormonal changes and that it will pass.

You are at a higher risk of morning sickness if you:

–          Are carrying multiples

–          Are prone to migraines

–          Have had morning sickness in previous pregnancies

–          Have women in your family that experienced morning sickness

–          Are carrying a girl (the thought is you have more hormones in your body)

–          Have experienced sickness from birth control pills (the estrogen in the pills has made you ill)

If you find yourself with any symptoms of morning sickness, there are things that you can do at home to try and prevent it from controlling your day to day actions:

–          Clean up your diet: Remove processed fatty or sweet food from your diet and replace them with healthy, nutritious options. Invest in a balanced prenatal vitamin and probiotic to ensure that you are giving your body the best chance to achieve the proper vitamin and mineral levels for your body. If you are planning on getting pregnant, it is important to clean up your diet before gestation begins to reduce the symptoms of morning sickness.

 

–          Include magnesium rich foods in your diet: Bone broths, unrefined sea salt, leafy greens and seaweeds! Try them all for the first time or keep adding them into your diet. Magnesium is an incredible aid in balancing cortisol (the stress hormone) and should be continuously added into the diet because pregnancy hormones reduce the absorption of magnesium in our bodies.

 

–          Eat smaller meals that include protein and healthy fats more frequently throughout the day: If you are eating more frequently, you are less likely to leave your stomach empty. Some women find that high carb and protein snacks help relieve the feelings of nausea and stabilize their blood sugar levels. Heart healthy fats help with the production of hormones—especially progesterone and estrogen which are crucial for your pregnancy. You should still get your fruit and vegetable intake in throughout the day but snacking on almonds, eggs, avocado, coconut, or some seedy crackers with nut butter or cheese.

 

–          Sip liquids all day long: There is a wonderful place between feeling dehydrated and water-logged. If you are constantly sipping liquids all day long, you avoid the water-stuffed feeling that can leave you heavy and nauseated. Try making a ginger lemon tea or a hearty bone broth full of magnesium and gelatin. Coconut water can be a great option as well for the electrolyte content. Progesterone relaxes your muscles and can increase your chances of experiencing heartburn. If this is the case, try drinking apple cider vinegar water which can balance your PH and remove the acidic feelings.

 

 

–          Eat snacks before bed: If you snack on protein before bed, you are lessening your symptoms for the morning by providing your night with a slow release of energy while you are sleeping.

 

–          Prepare for the morning: Some women find it helpful to bring crackers or seeds to their bedside table for when they wake up. Start the day slowly by eating a snack before you get out of bed and sip on liquids too. If you have something in your stomach before you begin walking around, your nausea may lessen.

 

–          Take your time: You have every right to take your time getting out of bed. If you are feeling light headed and tired, stay comfortable. If you have other children who need tending to and you are experiencing morning sickness, ask your partner, family members or friends to come lend a hand. You are going through a life changing process that needs to be respected and nurtured. Love yourself and take your time. You are the one who feels the change, do what you need to do to make sure you are as comfortable and as positive as you can be.

 

–          Use alternative methods of medicine: aromatherapy, homeopathy, acupuncture or acupressure, herbal support, Traditional Chinese Medicine or any practices that you feel drawn to that can support what you are experiencing. Make a spray bottle with some essential oils in it (orange, lemon, lavender, bergamot, peppermint) and spray your pillow, bedding or skin.

 

–          Make sure you talk to your health care professionals: If you are experiencing morning sickness, it is important to keep track of how long it is lasting and what you have been trying to do about it. Keep a food diary and note your symptoms. If you find that natural cures are not providing you with relief, your health care professional may want to give you a prescription to help—usually Dicletin. This prescription is made of vitamin B6 and an antihistamine called doxylamine succinate. It is important to remember that you can say yes or no to this method, but if you are dehydrated, malnourished or are experiencing an energy or mood swing, it is important to hear what your health care provider has to say. At the end of the day, they want you to feel better too and their ideas on morning sickness might actually be the cure for your body.

 *If you are constantly vomiting and are starting to deplete your nutrition and liquid intake, you may have Hyperemesis Gravidarum. This can literally be translated to “excessive vomiting in pregnancy.” If you are having a hard time keeping down any food or liquids and are losing weight, you may be lacking in electrolytes and vital nutrients. Hyperemesis Gravidarum can be treated with Dicletin or an IV at the hospital to rehydrate your body. Please consult your health care professional if you have any questions about your morning sickness.

 

Morning sickness, although uncomfortable, can be one of the many stages of pregnancy. The most important thing to remember during this time is who you are and that these are temporary feelings. Nourish your womb and continue to develop into your new role as a mother. You are a Wise Woman; you can always tune into yourself and find what you need.

 

For excellent recipes, information and tips on encouraging a rich and natural pregnancy and baby please look to Nourishing Traditions Book of Baby & Child Care by Sally Falon and Thomas S. Cowan.

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Lochia

Congratulations! Your baby has been born and a new family has emerged. Visitors are coming in and out of the house dropping off gifts and meals. Your parents might be in town to help you for the first few days and everyone is gathering to meet your little one. As a mom, you are starting to breastfeed and learn about all the new changes of hormones in your body. Sleep is coming and going and all of your energy is going into strengthening your new relationship with your baby. As your uterus begins to contract back to its pre-pregnancy form, the tenderness of your womb reminds you that a miraculous event has just occurred. This healing time requires attention and care for not only baby but your uterus and vagina as well.

During the first few weeks surrounding the birth, you will experience vaginal bleeding called Lochia. Lochia is a mixture of blood, mucus and tissues from your uterus. It will start by feeling like a very heavy period and will require pads and liners until it has passed. It is important to only use sanitary pads during this time as a tampon may lead to unnecessary infections by introducing bacteria into your vagina. This natural part of postpartum can last anywhere from 3-6 weeks with the first few days being the heaviest days of bleeding. You may feel as if you’re bleeding more when standing but this is simply because blood may collect in your vagina while sitting down. The amount of blood you are losing may feel like a lot because the last time you had a period could have been 42 weeks ago. While you were still pregnant, you may have had a chance to discuss healing with your midwife or doctor so you will have an idea of what to expect as a normal amount of blood loss and what could potentially be a hemorrhage.

 It is important to keep an eye on how many pads you are using in a day to ensure that your healing is on its natural path. Changing your pad every 2-3 hours during the first few days after birth is considered average. As time passes, the amount of blood you are losing will lessen and lessen. If you find that you are bleeding more than expected during your healing (hemorrhaging), feel light headed, your lochia has a foul smell, you’re clotting more than normal (some clots are expected), obtain a fever or chills, experience a heavy flow of blood after the flow has lightened, have abdominal pain or cramping, or are generally worried about your stages of recovery, contact your health care professional or emergency services right away.

 

There are 3 stages of Lochia:

Lochia Rubra: first 3-5 days after birth, bright red and heavy flow, may have blood clots (if bigger than a toonie, please consult a health care professional)

Lochia Serosa: 4-10 days after birth, the blood changes to a light pink or slightly brown color and the flow has lessened (if you experience an increase in blood loss that is red in color, please consult a health care professional)

Lochia Alba: day 10 onward, the discharge is yellow or creamy in color with no smell (if there is a smell or blood clot, please contact a health care professional)

As each woman will have a unique birth experience, the amount of days or weeks that you are bleeding for may be slightly different. The main goal is to recognize that the lochia is getting lighter in color and flow and that you aren’t experiencing any clots. Postpartum health is just as important as pregnancy and labor; Rest is incredibly important as your body needs to heal and nourish your new baby. Asking your friends and family to contribute to your housework and prepare your meals is an excellent way to minimize your housework. If you find that you are still in need of more help, postpartum doula services can be a great way to find more rest, nourishment, love and bonding time.

If you find that you are in need of a postpartum doula in the Victoria or Westshore area, please visit www.ficusdoula.com .

Happy National Pina Colada Day!

Happy National Pina Colada day! It’s sweet, it’s creamy and it’s even better virgin! As we all know, alcohol should be avoided during pregnancy, but a virgin Pina Colada is a healthy Mama’s Dream! Coconut and Pineapple are two superfoods of pregnancy and labor and together become an excellent way to stay cool on these hot days.

Coconut is the most abundant natural source of Lauric acid available. This antifungal and antimicrobial acid can be found in breast milk too! Rich in electrolytes, potassium, calcium, dietary fibre, vitamin c and magnesium, this incredible superfood can be consumed every day as an oil, water, or milk/cream. In the recipe below, I will be using coconut cream. Coconut is an overall aid in digestive help and can be applied to the skin as a moisturizer or to prevent stretch marks (I like to add lavender essential oil to help soothe the skin). It is safe for both mom and baby and can even help balance hormones, aid in morning sickness, manage weight, aid in circulation, and prevent fatigue.

Pineapple is a source of vitamin c, manganese, vitamin b1 and b6, anti-inflammatories, and bromelain. Bromelain is an incredible aid in thinning and softening the cervix, it is also excellent for digestive health. Most pregnant women stay clear of pineapple until they are at or past their due date, but it will take more than a serving of pineapple to achieve enough bromelain for a soft cervix. If you are cautious about using pineapple during your pregnancy, I do recommend sticking to your instincts and trying out some other fruits. If you are heading to the grocery store to pick up a pineapple, the trick to finding out if it is ripe is to tug on the innermost leaf and see if it comes out relatively easy. If it does, the pineapple is ready to eat.

The recipe below can be altered depending on how creamy, fruity, thick or thin you like your drinks. Try adding different fruits or juices for variations and new drinks!

 

Superfood Pina Colada:

¼-1/2 cup coconut cream
1 ½-2 cups pineapple chunks
Splash of orange juice
Handful of ice

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Bring on the Summer Heat!

Finally! The days are staying sunny and hot and every day looks like a day for the beach! Local berries and herbs are popping up everywhere and asking us to get creative. The call of Summer is here!

Right now, I’ve been finding a lot of field mint, lavender, cherries, wild strawberries, salmonberries, black caps, blackberries, raspberries and huckleberries. What more could a girl ask for! They’ve been the backbone of some of my more creative flavoured waters and lemonades to keep me hydrated while I’m doing yard work or at the beach.

As you progress in your pregnancy, you will realize that you need to be taking in a lot more liquids to keep your body going as your blood volume begins to grow by 50%. Keeping yourself hydrated on some of the warmer days may feel like an easy task, but it might become harder than you think. Sometimes 8 glasses of water alone won’t do the trick. There’s salt, sugars, vitamins and minerals that we all need to accumulate throughout the day and one of those ways is through liquids. I’ve decided to share some recipes for delicious lemonades and flavoured waters that you can pack up and bring with you wherever you go. I also wanted to share some ideas to keep you in tune with nature and the ability to gather and feed our families, neighbours and ourselves:

#1) Have a fruit swap with your neighbours or friends. If you are all growing something different, trade and gift parts of your yearly harvest to your neighbour so everyone has a bit of variety. Buying berries at the local grocery store can become quite expensive so if you have a group of harvesters in your area, then you are in luck for some variation at a very low cost. But it doesn’t have to stop at just fruits! Trade some of your herbs or vegetables to friends who have something different growing. You might run into someone who knows a few wonderful salve recipes that could come in handy down the road!

#2) A Harvest Day. This could be a great day trip if you have other children or have friends with children—just remember that some bushes have thorns for the younger ones. In the earlier part of the day before the sun is too high, set out to find some local berries. Working with nature for plump, juicy berries carries a calming rhythm and the work can really pay off! It is such a gift to have all these plants around us to help us nurture and grow. I usually tend to pick my berries in the Langford or Sooke area. It is also good to remember that you don’t want to be picking berries directly off the side of the road as all the fumes and toxins will go right into the plants and we want them to stay detoxifying! Take a nature walk and find a good spot, even stop by the ocean for a quick dip if you find yourself near! If you come across a big batch of berries and need a container that will allow you to keep picking, I recommend finding a 4 litre milk jug. All you do is cut the top off of the jug and loop a belt through its handle to hang the bucket from your waist. Both hands become free and you can simply dump the berries into a larger bucket (I buy the large empty ice cream bucks from stores) and keep on going.  

3) Community Gardens. If you live in an area with community gardens (Victoria has a lot of them) then I suggest paying them a visit. Everything from raspberries, blueberries, mulberries and figs can be found in these neighbourhood driven fruit lands and the best part is there is a portion waiting for you! These gardens are also a good way to meet some of the people in your city while expanding your knowledge on different types of plants and edibles!

So let it be time to grab some delicious, thirst-quenching ingredients and renew your mind on the beautiful upcoming summer days! If you find that you need to add more sweetener to your drink, simple blend it into a few teaspoons of hot water to dissolve. All these recipes can be altered and swapped with whatever you have available near you, they are just examples to get your creativity started.

Blueberry Lavender Lemonade:

2 lemons
2 sprigs lavender
1 tsp honey or sweetener (optional)
2 tsp chia seeds
handful of fresh or frozen blueberries

In a jar or container, dissolve the honey in a few teaspoons of hot water. Juice the lemons and add into the container and then add 3 cups or so of water until you get the desired taste of lemonade. Add in chia seeds and torn lavender sprigs. Top with blueberries and let sit for 10 minutes until chia seeds make  gel.

Grapefruit Cherry Refresher:

2 grapefruits
1 teaspoon honey or sweetener (optional)
1 bottle bubbly water (can be still as well)
2 sprigs of field mint (or whatever mint you may find)
handful of pitted fresh or frozen cherries

In a jar or container, dissolve the honey in a few teaspoons of hot water. Add in the field mint and bruise against the bottom of the jar. Juice 2 grapefruits and add into the honey and mint mix. Top with a bottle of bubbly water and cherries.

 

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