Immune Boosting Tips for the Whole Family

It’s that time of year again. The sounds of coughing and sneezing can be heard in
every public place. Airplanes. Libraries. Malls. Grocery Stores. Work places. More and more
people start calling out sick and our children usually catch the brunt of it. Is there any possible
way to boost our immune systems and avoid some of this season’s sickies? Below are several
strategies to attain overall wellness for you and your family as the winter approaches.

When winter sickness strikes, it can truly take a toll on the entire family. Hopefully these simple tricks will aide in optimal wellness this season.

Using Elderberry to Boost Your Child's Immunity

Having sick kids is nothing we look forward to come winter time. Snotty noses, unstoppable coughing, and grumpy attitudes. Not to mention the worrying a mama goes through about the illness. It’s truly a lose-lose situation. And then if mama gets sick, then the whole ship sinks.

This winter, I wanted to try to give my family the tools we needed to avoid those cold induced ear infections and the terrible flu virus that often plagues our communities. Because for me, staying quarantined the entire winter is not an option. We have to get out and moving, in public places even, where those big, bad, ugly germs are lurking.

The most potent tool in my arsenal right now is my Homemade Elderberry Syrup. I priced some already made syrups online and thought they were outrageously priced for such a small bottle. So, after reading the amazing benefits online, I knew I had to make it myself and cut back on some of the cost. Also, it makes you feel like a total mom boss when you can boil down berries and yield a substance to boosts your child’s immunity.

The first step is finding a quality, dried, organic elderberry online to use as your base of the syrup. The same rings true for honey. You will need a good local honey that contains the area’s pollen and seasonal allergens. This will also aid in cough suppression.
Organic Elderberry
Raw, Local Honey

Then you will boil a third of a cup of dried elderberries with three cups of water. Add a few shakes of cinnamon and clove and a tablespoon or so of fresh ginger and boil until the liquid decreases by half and looks more like a syrup. Wait for it to cool and then use a fine sieve to strain in a jar. Cool completely and add a cup of honey. TADA! You did it. Your very own elderberry to build that immunity in the whole family.

According to Dr. Google, the recommended dosage is a teaspoon for children and a tablespoon for adults daily during the week. Take the weekend off.
**Remember a child under 12 months of age should not consume honey.**

Protein in Pregnancy: What’s the big deal?

Have you ever wondered just how important your diet is for your growing baby in your belly? Have you ever allowed craving after craving to drive your food intake? Have you ever felt like your body only wanted to eat carbs, carbs and more carbs? If you have answered yes to one or all of these questions, this blog post is for you.

Throughout pregnancy, a protein rich diet can make all the difference in maternal and fetal health. It can reduce risk factors for pre-eclampsia and gestational diabetes, and even improve your birth outcome. But how?!

When your baby is growing the fastest, during the second and third trimester, it is vital that your body intakes protein which contains amino acids. These acids are the building blocks for you and your baby. Most experts recommend consuming a minimum of 80 to 120 grams of protein per day while pregnant. It is also important to use salt to taste. Between 20-25% of your daily calories should come from protein. As explained in the chart below, albumin is made directly from the protein mom eats which in turn increases blood volume. When mom doesn’t get enough calories, the protein is burned up rather than being used to make albumin. This unfortunately drops blood volume. The result of high blood pressure is due to the kidneys producing an enzyme called renin which makes the blood vessels constrict. This down spiral of events often leads to early signs of pre-eclampsia and usually early induction of baby.

Adequate protein and salt for the pregnant mom are vital in an overall healthy pregnancy and an uncomplicated delivery. Best choices that include protein are as follows: meat and poultry, fish and seafood, eggs, dairy products, beans and peas, nuts and seeds, high protein grains, protein powder. If the mother will increase the amount of salt, protein, and calories that she eats, the blood volume will increase, and blood pressure will come down to a normal level. Sometimes, this could even mean eating an ounce or two of protein every hour. It is in fact possible to reverse pre-eclampsia risks with proper protein-rich nutrition. For more information on the link between nutrition and pre-eclampsia, see www.drbrewerpregnancydiet.com.

protein in the maternal diet

YUM! Milk Boosting Horchata

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

Enjoy!

 

Ingredients:

1 1/3 cup of uncooked oats

5 cups of water

1 cup of coconut, rice, or almond milk

1/2 T vanilla extract

2 cinnamon sticks

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

 

Directions:

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

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

3. Strain mixture and discard solid contents.

4. Add vanilla, milk, and sugar.

Serve cold.

 

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

7 Tips To Prepare For A Natural Birth

Did you know that 85% of pregnant women are able to have a safe natural childbirth experience? But, only about 2% of American women give birth without any interventions. What is the disconnect? Certainly choice plays a role. Some women aren’t necessarily interested in unmedicated childbirth. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control National Vital Statistics Report, over 60% of women use an epidural for pain relief in labor. Also our culture and institutions impact a mother’s ability to birth naturally. Since one in three women welcome their babies via surgery, desiring a natural childbirth can feel somewhat unattainable. Know that if you are considering natural childbirth, it is so crucial to properly prepare yourself. With commitment and support, you can have an awesome, unmedicated birth experience! Follow these 7 tips, and you will be on target to have the best natural birth!

Be thoughtful when selecting a birth location!
In most places throughout the United States, you have access to three different birth locations. Mothers can give birth in a hospital setting, at a freestanding birth center, or at home. There are benefits and risks to all of these locations. You also need to decide where you feel most comfortable having your baby. If you really want an unmedicated natural birth experience in a hospital setting, find out what the c-section rate is for the facility you are considering. Individual hospital c-section rates vary widely, even within the same community. If you are thinking about having your baby at a freestanding birth center, this study presents great evidence to support safe and satisfying birth outcomes for mom and baby in a center environment. The study explains that if you have a low-risk, healthy pregnancy, your chances of having a c-section (via hospital transfer) is only 6% at a birth center, versus a 25% chance of c-section if you birth at a hospital. Your risk of interventions and c-section are lowest if you are planning a home birth. In this significant study, which analyzed nearly 17,000 planned home births, nearly 96% of women delivered their babies vaginally, and only 4.5% required pitocin to start or augment their labor. Compare this to a 30% induction rate in a hospital setting for first-time, low-risk mothers. Where you decide to birth matters! Understand the risks and benefits of different birth locations, and choose wisely.

Select a midwife as your prenatal provider!
Just like birth location, the provider you choose to see during pregnancy, and to attend your birth, has huge implications in your ability to have a natural birth experience. If you are having a healthy, normal pregnancy absolutely choose a midwife over an OB/GYN. The midwifery model of care sees pregnancy as a normal life event, that almost always results in a healthy mother and child. Midwives view pregnancy and birth through a holistic lens, and support women with more individualized care and minimize technological interventions. They also will identify and refer expectant mothers to obstetrical care, when truly necessary. There are several types of midwives, including Certified Nurse Midwives, Certified Professional Midwives, licensed midwives, and direct-entry midwives. The majority of pregnant women are able to access midwifery care in a hospital, birth center, and/or home environment. Research midwives in your area, find out if they attend births in your desired setting, and select a midwife that encourages your wishes for an unmedicated birth!

Take a comprehensive natural childbirth course!
Everyone knows that knowledge is power! Simply wishing for a natural birth will almost certainly not get you there. Educating yourself about birth will help build your knowledge, prepare you emotionally and mentally, and give you the necessary tools and techniques to navigate the modern birth landscape. Invest in a thoughtful, comprehensive childbirth education program that prepares both you and your partner for natural birth. Look for natural childbirth classes that covers staying low-risk in pregnancy, nutrition, exercise, relaxation techniques, choosing a care provider and birth location, anatomy and physiology of labor, birth-partner preparations, common policies and procedures, breastfeeding, newborn care, and possible complications, interventions, and alternatives. A great childbirth education course will really build your natural birthing confidence and abilities!

Take exceptional care of your body!
Preparing your body for birth is crucial. Having a healthy, nutrient rich diet and exercising regularly and appropriately, provides a strong foundation for natural birth. Caring for your body and baby with proper nutrition and exercise will help keep you low-risk, and may alleviate common pregnancy related ailments. Also consider chiropractic care during pregnancy. Find and visit a chiropractor certified in the Webster Technique. A chiropractor can help balance your pelvis and spine, so your baby can find the best position for birth. A review of studies found that women who received regular chiropractic adjustments throughout pregnancy had 39% shorter labors. Achieving optimal wellness with diet, exercise, and chiropractic will pay off big time!

Practice mindfulness!
Training your mind and heart for natural birth is just as important as preparing your body. A recent study suggests engaging in a mindfulness-based practice during pregnancy can help reduce anxiety and facilitate an easier and more satisfying birth experience. Mindfulness is simply a state of awareness, that arises from paying attention to the present moment. A prenatal mindfulness practice can be applied in a variety of ways. You may choose to facilitate your own quiet meditative practice, choose visualization exercises, engage in progressive relaxation, or even use a mindfulness app, specifically created for pregnancy, birth, and parenthood. Whatever you choose, mindfulness is a practice, so set aside time once or twice per day, and focus on the moment, to help you achieve an amazing natural birth.

Find your tribe!
Connect to other pregnant and new mothers that are interested in natural birth. It is so bizarre, but culturally normal, for veteran moms to share pregnancy and birth horror stories with expectant mothers. Disregard this negativity, and find your natural birth tribe. You can, of course, find a community of like-minded natural mothers everywhere online. If available, search for and attend a birth group or mama’s circle in your area.

Hire a doula!
Regardless of the type of birth you want or ultimately have, you should hire a birth doula! A doula is a trained maternal support practitioner who provides emotional, physical, and educational assistance to a laboring mother and her birth partner. Doulas help families have a safe, memorable, and empowering birth experience. Evidence overwhelmingly supports having a doula present during labor. With continuous labor support, women are more likely to have a satisfying and positive birth experience, less likely to have surgical interventions, and require less medical pain management. Birthing women with doulas also have shorter labors and fewer birth-related complications for mom and baby.

Having a natural birth is biologically normal, and most often physically and emotionally ideal, for mom and baby. It can prove to be a positive experience for the entire family, as well. With the right preparation, support, and education, you can absolutely achieve the best natural birth.

The Nurturing Root loves to support families that desire an unmedicated birth. We offer an exceptional array of Birth Boot Camp natural childbirth courses and holistic newborn care classes to support you during this exciting time of transition. Additionally, we support Baltimore families with in-home placenta encapsulation and family-centered postpartum doula and infant care support. We are honored to serve your family. Please contact us for more information, today!

Celebrate Autumn With Pumpkin Seeds

Autumn has finally arrived in Maryland and that means that is it pumpkin season. Almost everywhere you’ll find lattes, pies, and soups with its namesake. We are celebrating the harvest with the seeds of this seasonal squash. Also called pepitas, these little seeds are extremely nutrient dense, and contain a wide array of vitamins and minerals. Here are why pumpkin seeds are fall’s favorite superfood!

Protein During pregnancy you should be consuming an extra 25g of protein per day. Pumpkin seeds are a good source of vegetarian protein with about 5g in a one-ounce serving. Adding some seeds to a salad or a smoothie is an easy way to increase your protein intake. Pepitas are also particularly high in tryptophan, one of the 9 amino acids that comprise protein. Tryptophan is used by your body to synthesize the hormone serotonin; which is partly responsible for nervous system health, sleep regulation, and muscle growth and repair.

Minerals Pumpkin seeds are a rich source of several essential and trace minerals.

Omega-3  These fatty acids are crucial for brain growth and fetal development. Consuming sufficient amounts of Omega-3’s from foods like pumpkin seeds is linked to better birth outcomes including a higher placental weight, lower risk for preeclampsia, longer gestation, and higher birth weight.

B-Complex Vitamins  There are eight ‘B’ vitamins. All are crucial to normal body functions and a healthy pregnancy. The B-complex vitamins are essential for proper metabolism function, immune support, and normal nervous system growth in baby.

After you are finished carving your pumpkin make sure to set aside the seeds. Here are twelve plant-based recipes featuring pumpkin seeds. Enjoy!

Introducing Solids With Baby Led Weaning

Both the World Health Organization and the American Academy Of Pediatrics recommend exclusively breastfeeding your infant for the first six months. As you approach this milestone, you’re probably thinking about introducing solids to baby. There are two ‘schools of thought’ regarding the the addition of complementary foods. Feeding milled cereals and puréed foods by spoon is the traditional approach. Another way to offer solids is through Baby Led Weaning (BLW).  This style encourages baby to feed herself and skip the spoon, completely. The following is a guide to help you learn about, and decide if, a baby-led approach is right for your family.

What is Baby Led Weaning?

BLW is a theory originated by Gill Rapley, a British health nurse. The word ‘weaning’ is the UK equivalent of Americans saying ‘starting solids’.  With BLW, you forgo spoon feeding, a parent initiated method, and trust your baby to nourish herself, a baby initiated approach

When is my baby ready to feed herself?

Spoon feeding is so popular and almost unchallenged in our culture. Many families choose to introduce solids prior to six months.  Before this age, babies are not developmentally ready to feed themselves. With BLW, you wait until baby is developmentally ready to eat. When your infant reaches the following milestones, she is ready to start exploring food:

Why choose BLW?

It’s progressive and instinctual! A baby initiated approach to food is an extension of breastfeeding. A healthy, full-term baby can feed herself as soon as she is born. Baby tells you when she is hungry, she nurses at her pace, and knows when she is full. BLW builds on this philosophy and applies it to complementary foods. This style is also easier. Your baby enjoys the foods you cook for the entire family.  There is no need to prepare separate recipes for you infant.

How safe is BLW?

‘I am worried my baby will choke on food!’ The BLW philosophy makes sense in theory, but many parents are nervous to try this approach for fear of choking. BLW is as safe, or safer than traditional spoon feeding. As long as your baby is ready to feed herself, as listed above, she can engage in BLW.

baby led weaning info
What food should baby eat?

For safety, foods should be served in large chunks that baby can easily grasp in hand. These are a good start:

Here are an additional 100+ foods and recipes to enjoy.
To learn more about Baby Led Weaning, check out Rapley’s series of books.

Nourishing Recipes For The First Trimester

Obtaining Essential Nutrients With Whole Foods

Eating a colorful, varied, and minimally processed diet is ideal for optimal health, and during pregnancy, this becomes more apparent. Your body requires specific essential nutrients, vitamins, and minerals to support and grow a baby.

In these three recipes, I will explain why certain foods are ideal during the first trimester, and how their specific nutrients help you and baby. These nourishing dishes are all free from grains, dairy, and refined sugars.

First Trimester Smoothie

Coconut milk is a great alternative to traditional dairy; it is a rich source of several B-complex vitamins including B1, B3, B5, and B6. (There are 8 B-vitamins) Some of the many benefits include immune and nervous system support and enhanced energy production. During pregnancy, you also require more protein to support the rapid growth of your placenta and baby. Almond butter is a delicious addition to the smoothie and a great source of plant protein.

½ sliced, frozen banana

½ cup fresh or frozen blueberries

3 tbsp almond butter

¼ tsp cinnamon

½ cup full fat coconut milk

¼ tsp lemon zest

Place all ingredients in blender and mix.

Ultimate Prenatal Lentil Salad

Adapted from My New Roots

This salad is particularly delicious! Lentils are an amazing source of folate, a B-vitamin that helps baby’s neural tube develop properly. Folate also helps support red blood cell production, which is important as your blood volume increases throughout pregnancy. Lentils contain a ton of protein and fiber, which really increases the satiety factor of this dish.

1 cup black (du puy) lentils, rinsed, cooked, and drained

¼ cup dried tart cherries

handful of finely chopped fresh herbs. (I enjoy mint and parsley)

3 tbsp chopped capers

¼ cup chopped almonds

Vinaigrette:

¼ cup olive oil

¼ cup apple cider vinegar

1 tbsp strong mustard

1 tbsp maple syrup

1 tsp salt

1 tsp pepper

1 tsp ground cumin

¼ tsp turmeric

¼ tsp ground coriander

¼ tsp ground cardamom

¼ tsp cayenne pepper

¼ tsp nutmeg

¼ tsp cinnamon

Place salad ingredients in bowl. Prepare vinaigrette by placing all ingredients in a jar with lid. Shake well to combine. Pour vinaigrette over salad and toss everything together. This dish tastes best fresh at room temperature.

Wilted Greens with Creamy Lemon Tahini

Adapted from Love and Lemons

This recipe is loaded with superfoods. Dark leafy greens including spinach, chard, and kale are rich in vitamins and minerals. Greens like spinach are a surprisingly great source of calcium, which is needed for baby’s bone development. The addition of avocado lends more than creaminess to the sauce. It also contains high levels of vitamin B6, which helps baby’s brain development. Vitamin B6 can also ease nausea, a common first trimester symptom. Dark greens and the sesame tahini provide a superb source of iron, which supports red blood cell production, helping to prevent fatigue and anemia. Adding lemon to this dish enables your body absorb iron more effectively.

4 cups dark leafy greens (I prefer baby spinach)

1 cup broccoli florets

⅓ cup sesame tahini

½ avocado

juice of 1 lemon

salt and pepper, to taste

Sauté greens and broccoli in olive oil and set aside. Blend tahini, avocado, and lemon together in food processor. Add 1-2 tablespoons of water, to thin, if necessary. Plate greens and pour sauce on top.

Enjoy!

3 Things Every Pregnant Mom Must Know

You’re pregnant, congratulations! There is so much to do to prepare for a new baby and even more to learn. We recommend taking a quality childbirth education class, but in the meantime, here are 3 things every pregnant mom must know.

Eat protein.

Eating adequate protein is essential to a healthy pregnancy. Not only does it help grow and heal muscles (we are going a human after all), but it provides moms-to-be with energy, all while stabilizing blood sugars and helping reduce the risk of pre-eclampsia and gestational diabetes. Staying hydrated is another important part during pregnancy, drink lots of water stay hydrated!

Blood volume increases 50-60% during pregnancy, and daily protein intake supports that extra volume.  Without it, mom’s blood vessels constrict, increasing blood pressure and potentially leading to pre-eclampsia.  It is recommended that pregnant moms consume 80g of protein daily.  Eggs, nuts, seeds, beans, yogurt… eat all the protein!

An epidural is more than just a needle. 

I support women in their birth choices, regardless of what they are.  I also believe in true informed consent.  Many times, women decide to get an epidural and they don’t realize or aren’t told all that comes with the epidural.  Epidurals, like dehydration, can lower blood pressure.  Therefore, before the epidural can be given, mom must receive 2 bags of IV fluids to ensure she’s hydrated.  Once the epidural is given, mom will be hooked up to an electronic fetal monitor.  A pulse oximeter will be placed on her finger, and a blood pressure cuff on her arm.  Because mom won’t be able to get up to use the bathroom, a catheter will need to be placed.  Epidurals are known to slow contractions, so pitocin will likely be given to make contractions stronger. As you can see, there’s a lot more to an epidural than just a needle.  

epidural-in-labor_baltimore-300x200

Choosing a care provider and birth location are the biggest decisions you will make during your pregnancy.

You can prepare for your birth for 9 months.  You can eat well, take a childbirth class, and hire a doula, but if you don’t choose your care provider carefully, it can derail the birth you are hoping for.  It is imperative that you and your care provider are on the same page and have the same values regarding birth.  For example, if you are desiring a natural birth, choosing a provider with a high induction or cesarean rate will only make achieving your birth goals an uphill battle.  It’s important to ask your care provider tough questions, but it’s equally important to get satisfactory answers.  If you feel rushed, blown off, or mocked, it might be time to shop around.

Midwives-in-Maryland-200x300

If you’re pregnant in Baltimore and looking for a modern, comprehensive childbirth education class, take at look at our Birth Boot Camp curriculum.  We cover these topics and many more in our 10-week class and will leave you and your partner feeling confident and ready.  Contact us to discuss how we can help you and your partner prepare for an amazing birth!

Salt & Protein Can Reduce Risk for Pre-eclampsia

Eating a whole foods diet, with adequate amounts of protein, and water to thirst, can help alleviate many of the complications women face during pregnancy.  A diet high in protein can help repair and grow muscle, stabilize blood sugar, and can lower a mother’s risk of pre-eclampsia and gestational diabetes. Pre-eclampsia, a potentially life threatening condition, affects between 5-8% of mothers.  Symptoms include high blood pressure, edema, rapid weight gain, visual disturbances, headaches, and pain in the upper right quadrant.  The only cure for pre-eclampsia is delivery of the baby.

When I was pregnant with my first son, my midwife suggested I eat 80-120 grams of protein a day.  Without fully understanding why this was so important, I gave it a shot, but really didn’t track my protein intake too closely.  Around 35 weeks, my blood pressure started to rise, and at every prenatal appointment it was higher and higher.  In an effort to reduce my blood pressure, friends and family told me to cut my salt intake, and unfortunately, I listened.  As a result, I was diagnosed with pre-eclampsia at 36 weeks and risked out of my homebirth.  At 37 weeks, I went to the hospital for an induction and had a very difficult birth that ended up being vastly different than anything I had hoped or planned for.  I learned the hard way just how important protein and salt intake is in the maternal diet.

As someone who has experienced pre-eclampsia, it is important that I help spread the message about how diet can impact your and baby’s health and birth.  This graphic explains how the body reacts when mom does not consume enough protein, calories and salt.

pregnant woman prepares a meal

(The Brewer Diet can be very beneficial to pregnant mothers and focuses on a whole foods diet that is high in protein. This website is a wonderful resource to for those interested in learning more about The Brewer Diet. Proper nutrition really can make a huge difference in your birth experience.)