Positive Postpartum Affirmations

Focusing on the labor and birth of your baby during pregnancy leaves many women unrehearsed for the “Fourth Trimester” and beyond. The postpartum period is a time that many women struggle with bonding, feeding, sleeping and giving themselves basic needs for an overall healthy transition into motherhood.

Continuing to speak affirmations over yourself after birth is beneficial in building positive mental health for both you and your baby. Below are several powerful affirmations that will encourage you as embark on your new journey.

I am a strong and capable parent.

I am able to balance all of my responsibilities with ease and grace.

My body will continue to heal.

I am making the best choice for my baby.

Challenging does not mean impossible.

I am so much stronger than I think.

I will take this one moment at a time.

I will try my best to enjoy the process.

I am doing the best I can with what I have.

My baby is being nourished by me.

I will listen to advice given but listen to my intuition above all else.

I am rockin’ this mom bod and I look beautiful.

I allow my tribe to surround me with love and support.

I honor and respect the instinct inside me.

My baby is a different human than someone else’s baby.

I know what my baby needs.

I trust the divine development of my baby.

My baby and I share a sacred bond.

Patience is the first lesson I am working on as a mother.

I will take the time for self-care today.

I will lean into my partner when I need help.

I will choose to be kind to myself.

I am beautifully and wonderfully made.

No one else can mother my baby better than me.

I can freely choose how to parent my baby.

 

Need Birth Affirmations? Click here.

The Golden Hour: Those First 60 Minutes After Birth Are in Fact Pure Gold

The first 60 minutes after your baby is born are remarkably beneficial for bonding and attachment between mama and her new babe. What is the golden hour exactly? How can you maximize attachment and bonding in this hour? How long should skin-to-skin be established before those medical tasks and procedures are performed? These questions all point to this golden hour and its magical luster.

Congratulations! Your baby has been born. You have finally gotten a chance to gaze in their eyes for the first time after feeling all the pregnancy symptoms and baby’s movements. You are on the other side of labor and it feels so incredibly relieving.

That uninterrupted contact between mother and baby during the “golden hour” after birth is critical to the child’s growth and development. In the past, often times, the baby was whisked away from mother to perform all the essential procedures such as weight, bath, vaccinations (if consented by parents), diapering and swaddling. Mom would be waiting to receive her new bundle back once tasks were performed. Health care providers now understand and know that the more skin-to-skin mom can have with baby immediately after the birth, the better chance of bonding the mother will have and also the better overall experience the family will have as they embark on their new parenting journey.

The American Academy of Pediatrics now recommends the following guidelines:

So what exactly are the benefits?

Expectant mothers can talk to their care provider about the standard procedures for this postpartum period. Your birth plan can also include these 60 minutes immediately following birth. Every mother and baby should have a chance to experience their “golden hour.”

 

Placenta Print Art

The placenta is an amazing organ that gave your baby life for the 9 or so months that s/he lived inside of your body. Most often this organ is discarded as medical waste with a total disregard for it's important work. Instead of tossing it, how can you honor the birth of your baby and maximize the use of the “tree of life?” Placenta art may be one of the last things that pop into your head, but there are a number of reasons why to consider having your baby's placenta printed:

These prints can be displayed on a wall or kept with baby’s other precious mementos. Whatever you choose to do with your prints, know that it is a lasting way to celebrate the birth of your baby.

Contact us to discuss whether placenta prints are right for you!

 

 

Fourth Trimester… Oh My! Tips for sanity and survival

Congratulations. You have grown a baby. The 40 or so weeks of waiting are finally over and you are wondering what on earth to expect now. While your body is no longer housing a tiny human, something still feels off. The fog has not lifted. Your energy is low, your hormones are whack, and your stamina is half of what it used to be. Life seems to be filled with endless feedings, swaddling, burping, soothing and not sleeping. The days are blurry and the nights are endless. You have officially entered the fourth trimester. These next twelve or so weeks are a completely different marathon. Below are 6 tips that I felt helped me transition into motherhood with grace and kindness towards myself and my baby.

1. Take it easy the first few weeks. You will be back to “yourself” eventually but right now, your body is healing. Healing from pregnancy and birth. It will not feel “normal” anytime soon.

2. Never say “no” to someone offering help. People, in general, want to know how they can help. Let them cook meals, buy you Starbucks, clean your house, hold/feed your baby, carry your purse… anything. You don’t have to do it all. Even ask for help if you need it. You are not weak if you ask. You just made a human. That’s pretty damn strong.

3. Do not put pressure on yourself to get that pre-pregnancy body back during this trimester. It will not happen and you are setting yourself up for disappointment. Things are a little more shifty and squishy. It is ok. No one is judging you and if they are, you don’t need them in your life.

4. An hour or two goes by VERY quickly. Especially realized when a newborn baby is eating that often. At the end of the day, if you are wondering where the day has gone, know that you kept your baby fed. That is a big feat in itself. But everyday, try your best to do at least one thing for yourself. Eat a cookie. Walk slowly around the block. Ask for a massage from your partner. Take a bath. Read something (googling articles about your baby doesn’t count).

5. These first three months are all about SURVIVAL. Forget ALL. THE. RULES. and trust your instincts. If you hold your baby all day for him/her to nap, fine. If you get take out for 12 weeks straight, great. If you rock or nurse your baby to sleep, job well done. There is no “right” way to parent. Your mama instincts are powerful. You have everything you need inside of you to care for your baby. Silence the judge-y noise.

6. Believe the saying “the days are long but the years are short.” Although it feels like you’ll never have poopless days, you will. Try your very best to enjoy the little moments of sweetness. The coos and giggles. The messes and madness. These times are tiring times, but bound to make our hearts and lives oh so full.

You got this, mama. I believe in YOU!

“Motherhood: All love begins and ends there.” –Robert Browning

Postpartum Herbal Bath: Nourishing baby, body, and mind

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

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

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

The herbal bath brew can be used in many ways:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Soothing Hemorrhoids in Pregnancy and Postpartum

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

But why do hemorrhoids happen in pregnancy?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

What Is A Postpartum Doula?

Short answer; a postpartum doula is a cross between your mythical, awesomely helpful mother-in-law, and an expert baby whisperer! But seriously, a postpartum doula is a trained parenting, infant, and postnatal support professional. She provides education and assistance to families during the newborn period. This type of postpartum practitioner has a wealth of specialized experience and education, to help you adjust to parenthood. Think of a postpartum doula as your personalized parenting coach. Her goal is to help your family learn about normal newborn behavior, baby care techniques, infant sleep, postnatal recovery, breast and infant feeding techniques. There are really two avenues of support, a postpartum doula will provide. In the most traditional sense, a postpartum doula will help with a family-centered approach, or she can care for a growing family, by providing infant-focused care.

With a family-centered approach, a postpartum doula can guide, educate, and assist you through the parenting process. She may help you learn how to breastfeed with ease and confidence, answer questions you may have about feeding, diapering, bathing, grooming, and calming baby, and assist you with babywearing tips and techniques. Additionally, she may help you with meal planning and preparation, household organization, and give you access to trusted parenting and infant resources and referrals.  

A postpartum doula can also help your family with infant-focused care. Within this framework, your doula serves as a newborn specialist. She will be attentive to all of your baby’s needs, so you can properly rest and recover, after birth. Infant-focused care is particularly helpful to parents who are wanting assistance during the evening and overnight hours. Your postpartum doula will provide dedicated newborn care, so you can have the most restorative sleep, knowing a skilled professional is attending to all of your baby’s desires.

If you want personalized support, guidance, and resources to help you make the best decisions for your new family, consider hiring a postpartum doula! To learn more about how a postpartum doula provides practical support to families during the transition to parenthood, read this article.  Also check out The Relievery’s practitioner resource directory, or Doula Match, to find a postpartum professional in your area.

*This post was first published on THE RELIEVERY*

The Nurturing Root is honored to support and educate Northeast Ohio families. We provide Birth Boot Camp childbirth education, holistic newborn care classes, in-home placenta encapsulation services, and family-centered postpartum doula support. If you are looking to have a healthy pregnancy, amazing birth, and gentle postpartum recovery experience, contact us! We also welcome you to join our FREE Facebook community, Cleveland Holistic Pregnancy, Birth, and Parenting. This is a great space for families and professionals interested in a variety of natural birth and parenting topics

Maryland Court Delivers A Hostile Ruling To Breastfeeding Mother

A breastfeeding mother in Maryland is fighting a magistrate’s order allowing the father of their infant, the right to feed the exclusively breastfed baby formula, during overnight visits.

Amber Brown and Corey Lewis, residents of Charles County Maryland, welcomed a baby boy in February 2017, but separated shortly after their child’s birth. During a custody hearing in July, Monise Brown, a county magistrate facilitated a disagreement between Ms. Brown and Mr. Lewis’ beliefs regarding how to feed their baby during overnight visitations. The baby’s mother was exclusively breastfeeding her infant, and was not able to express enough breastmilk to send with the baby for overnight visits, with the father. Mr. Lewis insisted that he should be allowed overnight visits, and has the right to feed his baby formula during that time.

Magistrate Brown agreed with the father, stating “breast-feeding is not a reason to prevent [Lewis’s] visitation, and that insisting on breast-feeding would be considered deliberate alienation of [Lewis],” according to Ms. Brown’s attorney.

The mother filed a request for exception, providing a note from her son’s pediatrician stating the baby could not tolerate formula. At a follow-up hearing, in August, a second court official, Magistrate Mitsy Metzgar, agreed with the initial recommendation, forcing the Mother to comply with the overnight visitation ruling, that includes allowing the father the right to feed his exclusively breastfed infant, formula. Even though the American Academy of Pediatrics and World Health Organization strongly recommend infants be fed only breastmilk for the first six months of life, and Maryland law protects and states a vested interest in the infant and mother nursing relationship, as a basis to promote family values and public acceptance of breastfeeding, two court magistrates support detrimental recommendations for this mother-baby dyad.

This insulting arrangement in the custody ruling, comes at a very ironic time. Throughout the month of August, several organizations and coalitions spotlight breastfeeding with National Breastfeeding Month, World Breastfeeding Week, and Black Breastfeeding Week. Huge efforts are made to highlight and celebrate the importance of increasing a collaborative effort to generate a breastfeeding-friendly landscape. It appears that our culture and courts have quite a bit of remedial work to do, if they want to support and honor breastfeeding mothers, babies, and families!

The Nurturing Root proudly supports breastfeeding mothers. The health of our families, communities, institutions, and societies, are inextricably linked to our commitment to honoring breastfeeding mothers and babies.

New Mothers Are Choosing Placenta Encapsulation To Help Them Breastfeed

A growing number of mothers are choosing to consume their placenta, in order to have greater breastfeeding success.

August is National Breastfeeding Month, a time that highlights the importance of increasing a collaborative effort to support a breastfeeding-friendly landscape. A growing community of mothers are turning to alternative practices like placenta encapsulation, to help them establish and meet their breastfeeding goals.

According to the Centers for Disease Control Breastfeeding Report Card, 70% of mothers make the attempt to breastfeed their newborns, but at six months of age, only about 15% of babies are being exclusively breastfeed. This number is in stark contrast to the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendation that all babies be exclusively breastfed until six months of life.

There are several medical, physical, emotional, and social hurdles that can affect breastfeeding success rates. Changes to policies, practices, and the ability for new mothers to access breastfeeding support is slowly helping to increase these numbers. Some resourceful mothers are choosing a more controversial route to ensure they have the best breastfeeding experience.

The placenta, the temporary organ, that grows along with the baby and serves as its lifeline until birth, is most often treated as medical waste. But it may be a continued source of support to the Mother, after she gives birth. Through placenta encapsulation, the baby’s placenta is steamed, dehydrated, and pulverized. Then it is made into pills. A new mother can take her capsules as a postpartum wellness supplement. In addition to supporting lactation and increasing milk supply, many mothers report a boost in energy, feeling emotionally well and strong, lessened severity of mood swings, and decreased postpartum bleeding. Here are some of the great experience mothers are reporting:

“I am certain that taking my placenta pills allowed me to recover from my c-section at a much quicker rate, and with no baby blues at all! My milk came in immediately, my energy level was great even after long nights establishing a nursing a schedule. I felt stable and clear headed.” Kristen Sharp

“With my first child, I didn't produce much milk - had to supplement from day 1 and was only able to produce the little I did for 4 months. I am currently 2 weeks postpartum with my 2nd [child] and feel fantastic using my placenta pills! My milk came in 3 days postpartum and my supply is really good.” - Amanda Lynn

“Not only did this help me immediately postpartum, I took my capsules again 3.5 months postpartum when I was stressed about leaving my daughter for the first time for a work trip. It not only brought a lightness back into my mood, but increased my pumping output so I could add enough to my stash to leave her. I would recommend The Nurturing Root’s services to everyone.” - Michelle Woolschlager

The Nurturing Root has been providing professional placenta encapsulation services in Baltimore, since 2011, helping over 650 mothers have their best postpartum recovery experience. Additionally, The Nurturing Root supports expectant couples with Birth Boot Camp childbirth education classes and family-centered postpartum doula care in Baltimore. If you are interested in learning more about how placenta encapsulation can enhance you postpartum recovery experience, contact The Nurturing Root here!

Three Reasons Families Love In-Home Placenta Encapsulation

The Nurturing Root has been providing professional placenta encapsulation services to families since 2011, helping over 650 mothers have their best postpartum recovery experience. Placenta encapsulation can improve a mother’s overall postpartum wellness experience, and may help: balance hormones, support lactation and enhance milk supply, replenish essential nutrients, mitigate postpartum bleeding, provide natural pain relief, ease ‘baby blues’, decrease occurrence of postpartum mood disorders, and boost energy. To learn more about what hormones, minerals, and vitamins are in the placenta, and why they can help facilitate postpartum healing, take a look here.

So many families choose The Nurturing Root for placenta encapsulation because of our fantastic reputation. We have rigorous standards and practice strict safety and sanitation protocols. One policy that sets us apart, is that we always complete the entire encapsulation process in our clients’ home. Here are three reasons clients want their placenta encapsulated in their own kitchen:

Personalized Postpartum Support
Our families really value the connection we make while completing the encapsulation process in their homes. If interested, we encourage clients and family to observe the process, and welcome any discussion about the preparation method or questions regarding the placenta, birth experience, or the postpartum healing process. Additionally, our placenta encapsulation specialists are also trained postpartum doulas. We truly offer un-matched support to our families during their transition to parenthood. Our clients love that we hold a wealth of experience regarding the postpartum adjustment period. They can ask questions about normal newborn behavior, infant sleep, postnatal recovery, and breastfeeding. The Nurturing Root is happy to offer referrals and recommendations to other providers and community resources, including, chiropractors, massage therapists, support groups, pediatricians, and more. This family-centered support is a key reason our clients enjoy in-home placenta encapsulation.

Our Comprehensive Education and Safety Standards
The Nurturing Root is proud to have trained with both Placenta Benefits and the Association of Placenta Preparation Arts. We have extensive education and credentialing in placenta preparation. We also hold a current food safety certification. This ensures we have working knowledge in food hazards, proper hygiene practices, cleaning and sanitizing processes, and time and temperature controls. Most importantly, we have completed an OSHA compliant bloodborne pathogens training. This training ensures we fully understand the precautionary guidelines and decontamination practices for handling potentially infectious and biologically hazardous materials.

A family’s house holds a special energy and unique microbiome, and we strongly believe that a client’s placenta belongs in her residence. Transporting and processing the placenta outside a client’s home may introduce unfamiliar bacteria or contaminants to the placenta. Since it will be consumed as food, the placenta needs to be handled with discretion, as it is a perishable item. Proper storage at a safe temperature is paramount. It is also critical that all tools and surfaces be properly sanitized before and after the placenta encapsulation process. When we complete the encapsulation process in our client’s home, they can witness our rigorous safety and sanitation protocols for themselves.

The Nurturing Root Complies With Regulations
Currently, placenta encapsulation services are not explicitly regulated in Ohio. Though placenta encapsulation may operate in a bit of a legal ‘gray area’, there are very clear regulations and legislation pertaining to the production and distribution of potentially hazardous foods, and the transportation of human tissues. In Ohio, it is unlawful to prepare meat in an un-inspected, non-commercial kitchen and then sell that product. This is one of the main reasons we complete the entire placenta encapsulation process in our clients’ homes. It is also important to consider that the transportation of potentially infectious biological materials is highly regulated. If a business is transporting human tissue, like a placenta, both the Centers for Disease Control and the U.S. Department of Transportation require that the company hold a packing and shipping certification and use specific, standardized packing materials and labels for regulated items. This is the main reason why we have our clients transport their own placenta home. It is very clearly out of scope for The Nurturing Root to pick-up a client’s placenta, process it in an unregulated, non-commercial kitchen, and return the placenta capsules to our client. The Nurturing Root is operating with respect to, and in accordance with all applicable laws, and our clients really appreciate this!

The Nurturing Root steadfastly believes that a placenta should only be transported by the family and processed in their home. We implore those interested in hiring a placenta professional, to be quite diligent when researching encapsulation services. It is crucial that families are able to witness the sanitation protocols implemented by their specialist, and know for certain, that the placenta being encapsulated belongs to them, was processed safely, and was not contaminated by another source. We strongly encourage families to read this post, which lists six tips to consider before hiring a placenta encapsulation specialist. The Nurturing Root has encapsulated over 650 placentas, to date, with a 100% safety record and we have received only overwhelmingly positive reviews from our families. We believe in absolute transparency in the encapsulation process. Please feel free to contact us with any questions or concerns you may have about our philosophy, standards, and protocols.

We want you to have a healthy pregnancy, empowering birth experience, and gentle postpartum recovery. If you want to learn more about placenta encapsulation services and reside in Baltimore please contact The Nurturing Root here!

Reflecting on Postpartum Anxiety: A Psychotherapist's Journey

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Breathe.

***

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

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

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

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

Six Tips For Hiring A Placenta Encapsulation Specialist

Are you considering hiring a specialist to encapsulate your placenta?

Placenta encapsulation is an awesome process that transforms your baby’s placenta into capsules. You then take your ‘placenta pills’ as a postpartum supplement. Placenta encapsulation can improve your overall postpartum wellness experience, and may help: balance hormones, support lactation and enhance milk supply, replenish iron, minerals, and vitamins, mitigate postpartum bleeding, provide natural pain relief, ease ‘Baby Blues’, decrease severity of postpartum mood disorders, and boost energy. If you are wanting to know more about what hormones, minerals, and vitamins are in your placenta and why they can help facilitate postpartum healing, take a look here.

Once you have decided that encapsulation is right for you, the next step is to find a qualified placenta specialist. So you search Google for ‘Placenta Encapsulation Cleveland’, but what next? Here are six tips to help you hire the best placenta encapsulation specialist.

Find A Specialist That Is ‘Triple Trained’

Placenta services are an unregulated industry, but there are certain standards, trainings, and precautions your professional specialist should follow. You want to find a placenta encapsulation specialist that has:

Completed training and certification with a comprehensive, research-based placenta education program. Ask your prospective placenta encapsulator with whom they have trained. Check out their certifying agency’s website to learn about the curriculum and requirements. Is their organization listed with the Better Business Bureau? If yes, what is their rating? Does internet search results return positive feedback?

The Nurturing Root is proud to have trained with both Placenta Benefits (PBi) and the Association of Placenta Preparation Arts (APPA). Both PBi and APPA are very well-respected organizations providing extensive education and credentialing in placenta preparation. We recommend using either the PBi directory or APPA directory to find an encapsulator in you area.

A current food safety certification. A food safety certification ensures that your placenta encapsulation specialist has tested knowledge in food hazards, proper hygiene practices, cleaning and sanitizing processes, and time and temperature controls.

The Nurturing Root Ohio holds a current ServSafeⓇ Food Handler Certificate.

Completed an OSHA compliant Bloodborne Pathogens training. It is crucial that your placenta encapsulation specialist has demonstrated competency regarding the precautionary guidelines and decontamination practices for handling potentially infectious and biologically hazardous materials.

The Nurturing Root has completed the Biologix Solutions Bloodborne Pathogens Training for Doulas and Placenta Encapsulators.

Decide Which Preparation Method Is Right For You

There are two preparation styles for placenta encapsulation, the Raw Foods Inspired method and the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) method.

Raw Foods Inspired Method  

This method is based largely on the principles surrounding the raw foods philosophy of eating. Raw foods principles teach that food is most nutritious if it is heated no higher than 118℉. Above this temperature certain enzymes will begin to degrade. For the Raw Foods preparation, your placenta is cleaned, sliced, then dehydrated at either 118℉ OR 160℉ overnight. The Association of Placenta Preparation Arts recommends drying the placenta at the higher temperature of 160℉ to ensure any possible bacteria are eliminated.  Then your placenta is ground into a fine powder and placed in capsules. With this placenta process, it is thought that the potency of hormones and nutrients will be best preserved and available for your body.

Traditional Chinese Medicine Method

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has been incorporating placenta in powerful remedies for 1400 years. It is used to increase lactation and augment the ‘Qi’ or life energy, after birth. The many hormones and nutrients found in placenta can help you heal, and find optimal balance, during the postpartum transition period. With the TCM method your placenta is cleaned, lightly steamed with ginger and myrrh, sliced thin, and dehydrated overnight. Then your placenta is ground into a fine powder and placed into capsules. Steaming the placenta with ‘warming herbs’ is an integral part of this preparation method. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, a mother’s postpartum body requires heat and warmth to replenish the energy that is lost during childbirth. Raw foods are generally seen as a cooling element. Therefore, consuming raw placenta not recommended for the tonifying elements needed to nourish the blood and restore energy and balance to the body.

The Nurturing Root offers the Traditional Chinese Medicine method of placenta encapsulation to our clients. We believe that this preparation, and the Chinese medicine philosophy, offers the greatest healing benefits to new mothers.

Know Where Your Specialist Performs Their Work

A placenta encapsulation specialist will prepare the placenta either in their workspace or in their client's home. With both workspaces, your ‘triple trained’ placenta encapsulation specialist should implement identical sanitizing protocol. Also with both methods, capsules will usually be processed and made available within 72 hours of birth.

Specialist’s Workspace

Your placenta encapsulation specialist will either personally pick-up or use a courier service to collect your placenta from the hospital or birth center and have it brought to their workspace. Their workspace can be a family kitchen, a dedicated encapsulation processing space in their home, or a dedicated space in another location (like their studio or a commercial-style kitchen.) Once your placenta capsules are ready, your specialist will most likely bring the capsules to you at home.

Client's Home

After having your baby, you, a family member, or a friend will bring the placenta to your home.  Your placenta encapsulation specialist will then come to your house to process your placenta. The capsules will be left with you, or arrangements may be made to take them to your birthplace if you are not at home yet.

The Nurturing Root exclusively processes your (our client) placenta in your home. Your house is a special space with your family’s energy and unique microbiome, and we strongly believe that your placenta belongs in your residence. We also value the connection we make by processing your placenta in your house. We encourage you or family to observe the process, and welcome any discussion about the preparation method or questions you have regarding your placenta, birth experience, or the postpartum healing process.

Consider Hiring A Professional That Offers Complimentary Services

In addition to placenta capsules, look for a placenta encapsulation specialist that offers other placenta specialties, like: placenta art prints, tincture, or mother’s broth. You may also want to find a placenta encapsulation specialist that provides additional prenatal and postnatal services.

The Nurturing Root offers a variety of placenta remedies.  In addition, we also offer Birth Boot Camp natural childbirth education for couples, labor comfort measure workshops, birth and postpartum planning sessions, and family-centered postpartum doula care. We are quite active in the birth community, so we also have available a comprehensive list of community resources for expectant and new moms.

Hire A Well-Respected, Highly Reviewed, and Experienced Specialist

Using a placenta encapsulation specialist recommended by a trusted friend is a great option. But make sure to do your own research on any prospective encapsulator. Look through their website, check their social media accounts, and read or ask for testimonials. Schedule a call or meet with the placenta encapsulation specialist you are interested in hiring. Get an idea of who they are, how and why they chose to become a professional placenta encapsulator, and ask them how many placentas they have encapsulated.

The Nurturing Root has been providing placenta encapsulation services to families since 2011. We have helped nearly 600 mothers experience their best postpartum, with our placenta encapsulation services. We are honored to have overwhelmingly positive reviews and testimonials from our Baltimore families.

Have Your Questions Answered Before Booking Services

Your placenta encapsulation specialist should return your email, message, or call promptly and provide you with an overview of their services, fees, policies, and protocols. You should also see if your prospective specialist has a comprehensive Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) page on their website. You want to feel confident about your specialist and her services before paying a deposit.

The Nurturing Root keeps an updated FAQs page on our website, so you can learn all about our placenta encapsulation services. We also respond to inquiries with thorough details about the placenta encapsulation process.

We want you to have a healthy pregnancy, empowering birth experience, and gentle postpartum recovery. If you are wanting to learn more about placenta encapsulation services and reside in Cleveland or greater Northeast Ohio please contact The Nurturing Root here!

This post, in part, was re-published on Parent.co

Breastfeeding While Back to Work

Written by Katy Linda, IBCLC

Breastfeeding while back to work. It's one of those things so many parents worry about. How do you manage it all?

You figure out what works best for you. Just like nearly every other facet of parenting, there is no one size fits all approach to returning to work and managing milk supply.

When you are confident that breastfeeding is going well, you can start pumping and adding a bottle feeding every few days to your feeding times. You don't need to give your baby a bottle every day, just every few days to keep your baby familiar with the bottle. When you're ready, here are some resources for choosing a good bottle for your baby.

The other thing you will need is a good breast pump. A double electric pump should be covered by your insurance company under the Affordable Care Act. Having extra membranes, valves, and tubing is generally recommended just in case your parts wear out. Changing the small rubber pieces is recommended every 90 days.

Having flanges that fit well will help you pump without discomfort as well as maximize your pump output. Your pump manufacturer should have options on sizes and there are other options, such as Freemies or Pumpin Pal Flanges to give you a variety of options to find the right fit. In a proper fitting flange, the breast should fit tight against the funnel part of the flange, and the tunnel should allow for the nipple and a little bit of areola to enter. You should not have rubbing on the side, and there shouldn't be a large amount of space for nipple to swell.

You'll want to start pumping around the same time you start introducing a bottle. Pumping after you feed your baby means you won't get a whole bottle's worth of milk, but it also means you are not taking the easy-to-get milk from a breast your baby is ready to feed from. If you can pump 2 or 3 times, you should have a bottle worth of milk. This can be collected over 2 - 3 days if needed.

Many moms feel most comfortable with a freezer stash of milk. You don't need to have hundreds of ounces taking up the entire freezer. Having a day or two worth of milk to be a back-up plan, just in case something happens is plenty.

When you return to work you will want to pump around the times your baby would typically eat. This may or may not work with your work schedule, so do your best. Ideally pumping every 2 - 3 hours will help maintain supply and get you the milk your baby will need while you were away.

Typical intake for a baby is 1 - 1.5 ounces per hour, so you will want to try to keep this in mind as your overall output. There are many techniques that can be useful to help maximize output, depending upon your situation. For some moms, having a photo of their baby or something that smells like their baby can help with output. For others, distraction from the task at hand is much more effective. Music, reading, or working on emails are all options for some women. Employing hands on pumping techniques, where you use your hands to provide massage and help move milk can also be useful in maximizing your pumping efforts.

In order to make the process faster, as long as you don't have any nipple damage, cracks, cuts, etc, you can store your pump parts in the refrigerator and just clean them daily. Washing parts can be time consuming, this can make the process faster so that you are missing less working time. Parts can be washed with soap and water, or even with sterilizing steam bags in the microwave.

Breastmilk is good for 7 days in the fridge, 6 months in the freezer compartment of the fridge, and 12 months in a chest freezer. There are many methods to store breastmilk. Typically feeding your baby the freshest milk possible is recommended. You can feed them the milk you have pumped the previous day, and a few times a week take a bag of milk to put in the freezer and take the oldest bag out of the freezer to feed your baby. This keeps your freezer stash as fresh as possible, while giving your baby mostly fresh milk.

Balancing the hurdles of leaving work to pump with the desire to provide the very best for your baby can be challenging. Know that it doesn't have to be all or nothing. Every drop of breastmilk you provide for your baby matters and makes a difference.

 

Katy Linda, is an IBCLC and owner of The BF Den.  She serves Central Maryland and lives in Baltimore with her husband and 4 children. 

Is Placenta The Perfect Postnatal Supplement?

While pregnant did you take a prenatal supplement? And what about after baby is born; have you considered taking a postnatal vitamin? It is well known that a high quality prenatal supplement can provide you with extra folate, vitamin D, and magnesium to support a healthy pregnancy. Once baby arrives, you may still need additional vitamins to facilitate breastfeeding and healing. Your placenta may be the perfect postpartum supplement! In this post I’ll discuss what hormones, nutrients, and vitamins are present in your placenta, various research supporting placenta consumption, and how it can help you heal and find balance during the postpartum transition period.

What hormones, nutrients, & vitamins are in my placenta?

Corticotropin-Releasing Hormone (CRH) Stress relieving hormone.
Human Placental Lactogen (hPL) Regulates maternal insulin, protein, and fat levels; promotes breast tissue growth.
Oxytocin Decreases pain; controls uterine contractions; enhances 'letdown' reflex; counteracts stress hormones.
Placental Opioid-Enhancing Factor (POEF) Stimulates the production of your body’s natural opioids reducing pain.
Prolactin (PRL) Promotes lactation and increases milk supply.
Interferon Signaling protein that stimulates the immune system to help fight infections.
Thyroid Stimulating Hormone Regulates metabolism and energy, and supports recovery from stressful events.
Immunoglobulin G (IgG) Type of antibody that protects against infections and enhances immune system response.
Fibrin Stabilizing Factor (XIII) Enzyme that stops bleeding and promotes wound healing.
Vitamin B-6 An essential vitamin that supports metabolism, energy levels, and nervous system function.
Hemoglobin (Hb or Hgb) An iron-rich protein that carries oxygen throughout the body.

What research supports postnatal placenta consumption?

The research surrounding the positive attributes of placenta encapsulation is very promising. Your placenta is the lifeline to your baby, and this temporary organ is made to nourish. It brings vital nutrients and exchanges waste, to support the normal growth and development of your baby. Your placenta is also an integral member of your endocrine system. It produces and contains critical hormones, nutrients, and molecules, including: corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH), human placental lactogen (hPL), oxytocin, placental opioid-enhancing factor (POEF), and more.

Corticotropin-releasing hormone is a stress relieving hormone usually produced by the hypothalamus. But during pregnancy, your placenta takes over synthesization of CRH. A woman's level of CRH increases three-fold during pregnancy. After birth, it takes a few weeks for the hypothalamus to begin re-regulating CRH. Low levels of CRH in postpartum women may be linked to depression.

Human placental lactogen is responsible for regulating maternal insulin, protein, and fat levels, to benefit the growth of the baby. It is crucial for milk gland stimulation and for the initiation of colostrum production. In a small study from the 1950's, 210 new mothers were given dried placenta, which is rich in hPL. Over 86% of participants in the study noted an increase in milk production.

Oxytocin, often called 'the love hormone', is responsible for uterine contractions and the 'letdown' reflex while breastfeeding. Oxytocin also promotes love, empathy, and bonding. When you consume your placenta, its high levels of oxytocin can help slow your postpartum bleeding, relieve discomfort, and facilitate breastfeeding.

Placental opioid-enhancing factor is only present in the placenta and amniotic fluid. POEF can stimulate the production of your body's natural opioids, reducing pain and enhancing your sense of wellness. In one study, the benefits of placenta ingestion by nonhuman mammalian mothers (rats) are significant. It provoked an increase in mother-infant interaction, and increased the effects of pregnancy-mediated pain relief.

How can a postnatal placenta supplement help me recover from birth?

Our culture of childbirth and the postpartum period are rife with trauma, stress, anxiety, and depression. Placenta encapsulation presents a gentler, and perhaps, biologically normal, way of balancing the chaos that can come with a new baby.

Placenta is ancient medicine for modern healing. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has been using placenta as a remedy for 1400 years. The many hormones and nutrients found in your placenta can help you heal, and find optimal balance, during the postpartum transition period. Choosing to encapsulate your placenta may help:

Balance Hormones
Support Lactation & Enhance Milk Supply
Replenish Iron, Minerals, & Vitamins
Mitigate Postpartum Bleeding
Provide Natural Pain Relief
Ease 'Baby Blues'
Decrease Severity of Postpartum Mood Disorders
Boost Energy

Welcoming a new baby is a joyous occasion, but this exciting time of transition can be challenging. Our placenta encapsulation services can help you have a calmer, more peaceful, and restorative postpartum experience.

Finding Your Village

You’ve had your baby, welcomed all of the visitors and friends who want to meet the newest addition, and eaten all of the food you’d prepared and stored in the freezer. You have survived the first week or two of motherhood, cried countless tears as your hormones regulate, and said goodbye to your significant other as they rejoin the work force. Now, you find yourself alone (well, sort of) on the couch, in a quiet house, with the tiniest little thing that has ever ruled your world. Now what?

It can be quite daunting, those first moments when you realize it’s really up to you (and whatever support person or network you have in place) to care for this little being. You may be having some existential moments, asking yourself, who am I now? I know I did. I remember just sitting there, staring at this little person who wouldn’t leave my breast, and thinking just that. I certainly didn’t feel like the same person, who just two weeks ago, was (very) pregnant, and now, I’m someone’s mom. Someone’s whole world. It’s really, and truly, a baffling experience. If you haven’t had that feeling yet, you’re likely reading this because you’re expecting and soon will.

Now that you’ve questioned your entire meaning and purpose in life, where do you go from there? Well, you just go. Really, it’s that simple. Just go. I read COUNTLESS new parenting blogs, articles on the best latch, what creams to use on baby (or not to use), how to hold her, how to make sure she fell asleep at the breast or bottle, how to make sure she didn’t, when to wake her, when to put her down (and many that boasted the importance of putting her down often; this was especially frustrating since she understandably didn’t seem to like it much).  I read about how much sleep to expect from her, and on and on and on. It was maddening, really.

The amount of information available to new parents can be completely overwhelming and it certainly baffles our grandparents who had nothing to go on other than instinct. You’re surrounded by all of this information at your fingertips, yet potentially feel more alone than you ever imagined. This is where I suggest to you forego the books, the articles, and the blogs. They aren’t what you need right now. There’s time in the future for that (a tip: don’t read the sleep stuff until way into the second half of the first year. It all changes too rapidly to worry about right now. Sleep will come eventually, I promise.).

What you should do is work on finding your village. Find the other parents who are in the thick of it just like you. CONNECT. Really connect. Identify your community, or create it if it doesn’t exist yet, and make plans. Spend real-life time with others who can relate to exactly where you are and what you’re doing in this very specific time in your life. Facebook has become an amazing networking locale for meeting and establishing some amazing friendships for new parents. When I was a first-time mom, sitting on my couch, nursing for most of my day, I made some of my closest friends. Remember the joke, “there’s an app for that?” Well, I’ve realized the latest phenomenon is that “there’s a group for that!” Literally, almost every topic has plenty of group options for you to find and connect with others in a virtual reality. But, that’s just the first step, it’s imperative that once we make these connections virtually, we follow through with the relationships in real life, especially as new parents. It can be quite lonely otherwise. There are plenty of local meet-ups happening in almost every neighborhood, and on that note, almost every neighborhood has its own Facebook page (or Meetup group etc.). These can happen during the week or weekend, for stay-at-home moms and working moms alike, so seek out the local community and meet like-minded parents. Then make plans in person.

It’s this community that I now go to on a regular basis to check in on what’s normal, rant when my days are just tougher than I imagined, cry to when I just need someone to hear me, and make plans with when I need to spend some time with other people who just get it. They’re in the thick of it, just like me, and we can commiserate, or boast, or cry or do whatever we feel like together. I once read an article about how the women you meet at your first moms’ group are unforgettable. Even if you all grow apart, you’ll never forget the times you spent doing all of what I just mentioned, together with your newest little people. And, it’s worth noting that maybe you don’t find your people right away, but keep reaching out and you will. Finding a group of moms (or dads because there are groups for you, too) who you can count on to be there is priceless. Trust me, when you’re up for what seems like the 18th time in the middle of the night and just need to know you’re not alone, you’ll be grateful you have your community. Some might even become like family. That’s exactly how we were meant to parent because it takes a village.

 

If you are looking to connect with other moms and families in the Baltimore community, here are some links to get you started:

Search Meetup.com for your neighborhood and you’re likely to find many other parents.

Looking for a group just for dads? This is a new local group that is growing.

Mother Goose on the Loose is a great, free early literacy program that happens at libraries all around the country. Click the link to find the closest weekly group to you.

And of course, there’s Facebook. Most of us have already succumb to this, but if you haven’t, it definitely provides an easy way to make connections. Baltimore Birth, Babies & Breastfeeding is a diverse group of moms and dads supporting each other in a nonjudgmental community.  Join, ask questions, and connect. We’d love to have you.

 

 

When your friend has a baby: 10 ways to support a new mother

When my closest friends were having babies, I was just getting married.  I was pretty clueless about most things regarding the postpartum period and since the last baby to be born in my family was my 22-year-old sister, I knew even less about babies. I hadn’t a clue as to ways to support a new mother.

My best friend, the first one of us to have a baby, had a long labor, which ended with a cesarean. When she returned home, I am sure she was incredibly sore, but she was also clearly frustrated with breastfeeding.  When I think back to how painfully clueless and useless I was when she had her baby, I shudder.  I mean, I brought her a plant.  A PLANT!  While plants are lovely and they brighten up a room, it’s also one more thing for her to tend to and it isn’t remotely helpful to her in any way.  Oh, and that’s not all.  When lunch time rolled around, she heated up leftovers for us to eat.  SHE heated up leftovers for ME. (**shudder**)  It actually makes my stomach turn to think that I was that out of touch with what she needed.

After my own postpartum experiences, coupled with lots of training on birth and the postpartum period, I think it’s safe to say that thankfully, I’ve learned a few things since then.  Here are 10 ways to support a new mother, so the next time you have a friend have a baby, you’ll know how to shower her with love (and clean laundry).

way-to-support-a-new-mother-768x513

  1. Walk her dog. She’s healing from birth and her partner deserves a break. Take Fido for a stroll.
  2. Take her children outside. If mom has other children, take them outside to expel some energy. Playground, walk around the block, bike ride, whatever. Mom will appreciate the quiet and the kids will love the fun.
  3. Fix her family a snack or bring her a meal (or 2).  Anything you can do to take some of the load off, please do. Make them a meal or a snack, and if you can, involve the kids.  The kids will enjoy the activity and mom will get a reprieve by them being entertained.  If you won’t be there long, bring a meal already prepared, but also one that is freezable, so they can enjoy it later if needed.
  4. Bring her groceries.  When I had my first baby, a friend came to visit, and with her came 2 grocery bags full of food.  Some of the food was already prepared and the rest was perfect grab-and-go foods for snacking.  I was so touched and appreciated having new items in the fridge.  We sat around the table and noshed while she held and loved on my baby.  It was incredible and I appreciated it so much.
  5. Hold the baby and send her upstairs for a long, hot shower.  It’s amazing how much a hot shower can change a person.  Even if she doesn’t need it, take the baby, and if she has one, the 3-year-old, and send her upstairs for a hot shower and some alone time.  She’ll come down feeling grateful and refreshed.
  6. Load her dishwasher and run it.  I’m placing bets that when you go see her there will be a sink piled high with dishes.  Load the dishwasher and be sure to run it.  If you’re there long enough, empty it on your way out the door.
  7. Wash a load of laundry.  It’s amazing how much laundry a 7-pound baby can produce.  Whether it’s spit up on the onesie or breastmilk leaked on her shirt, there’s bound to be a load of clothes waiting.  Wash a load for her.  If there’s a load that’s been done, fold it.  Laundry is one of those things that can get out of hand fast. Helping her stay in front of it will take a lot of burden off of her.
  8. Take out the trash.  On your way out the door after your visit, take the trash with you.
  9. Sweep.  Dog hair, cheerio crumbs, dried up play-doh pieces.  It’ll take 5 minutes and will make a big difference.
  10. Bring her something for just her.  Bring her something that will make her feel good.  Ok, so maybe that plant wasn’t all bad.  I love plants, but whatever it is, make sure it’s something that will make her feel warm and pampered.  Maybe bring some great shampoo, bath salts, or handmade soap for the shower she’ll take during your visit.  Whatever it is, make it special.

There are endless ways to support a new mother, these are just a few.  The bottom line is make her life easy, make her plate lighter, and let her know you love her.  Having a baby is hard, and sometimes the postpartum period is even harder.  New moms are all too often left unsupported in our hustle-and-bustle culture, but we were never meant to do it alone.  Be a good friend, show up, and give her what she needs.  When she has a friend have a baby, she’ll remember how you made her feel, and she’ll pay it forward.  Little by little, maybe our culture will begin to shift.

Postpartum Doulas Support Baltimore Families

 

Having a new baby can be a very challenging time for some mothers and their families.  Mom may be healing from surgery or a difficult birth.  Dad or partner may not be able to take any time off work, or maybe he travels a lot.  Some families don’t live in the same area as their extended family, so they may have minimal family support.  Perhaps they have other young children that need tending to while mom is healing.  Maybe they just need help stocking the empty fridge.

Many families are finding comfort and support through postpartum doulas.  While a birth doula supports families emotionally and physically during labor and delivery, a postpartum doula supports families after their baby arrives.  Postpartum doulas support Baltimore families in a variety of ways.  Their tasks may vary depending on the family’s needs, but ultimately the doula will help ease the family’s transition with baby, and help keep their home afloat while they recover from birth and bond with their growing family.

Postpartum doulas help families with light housekeeping, meal prep, sibling care, overnight support, errand running, and more.  Just imagine…

We can do all of that.  We can take care of you.

By offering non-judgmental support, families feel safe asking questions related to breastfeeding, baby care, and postpartum wellness.  Mothers and families feel secure knowing they can take the deserved time to rest and bond with baby while their doula keeps their home running smoothly.  Our postpartum doulas support Baltimore families with passion, compassion, and expertise.

 

If Most Mammals Consume Placenta, Why Don’t We?

The placenta, a temporary organ, has a crucial role to play in pregnancy.  It nourishes the fetus, also bringing oxygen and removing waste for the mother’s kidneys to dispose of.  This essential organ also regulates hormone production throughout pregnancy and is responsible for sustaining the pregnancy. The placenta, attached to the baby via the umbilical cord, is born shortly after the birth of the baby.

We know that with the exception of just a few species, all mammals, including herbivores, consume their placenta as an innate behavior after giving birth to their young. Some say the behavior, also known as placentophagy, satisfies a nutritional need of the mother.  Others claim it is a way for the animal to clean their nest in an effort not to attract predators.  While at first glance, the cleaning-of-the-nest theory makes sense, we know that animals whose young can walk immediately after the birth, such as horses or giraffes, still consume their afterbirth with great enthusiasm even though they could just walk away from the birth site to a perceived safer location. Similarly, monkey species also engage in placenta consumption even though they could let the placenta fall to the ground below away from their tree-top birthing location.

If mammalian mothers only consume placenta as a way to clean the nest site, why don’t they take the time to lick up the blood and other fluids from giving birth?  What are they gaining from the practice? And finally, if most other mammals do it, why don’t humans eat placenta after birth?

 

The Fire Hypothesis:

Last spring, I had the pleasure of attending PlacentCon, a conference for birth workers that hosted many presentations centered around the placenta and placentophagy.  The conference, held in Las Vegas, had speakers from a variety of specialties, but one of the most memorable talks was given by Dr. Daniel Benyshek, medical anthropologist at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV).  Dr. Benyshek, along with researcher, Sharon Young, discussed their work with the groundbreaking placebo VS. placenta study currently underway at UNLV.  When asked about why humans don’t innately engage in placentophagy, Dr. Benyshek had a fascinating hypothesis.

He explained that as a species, early humans probably did consume their placenta after birth.  When fire was discovered millions of years ago, trees, absorbing heavy metals from the earth, were then burned.  As a result, expecting mothers were around smoke and inhaling it regularly.  While we know that the placenta does not act like a filter, holding onto toxins, it does have difficulty ridding itself of heavy metals.  As the women were around smoke more and more, their placentas had increased levels of cadmium and lead.  Upon ingesting their placentas after giving birth, women began either getting very ill or dying, and over time, we evolved to discontinue the practice.  For the same reason, in present day, it is thought that cigarette smoking in mothers is a contraindication of placenta encapsulation.

Though there is research supporting the benefits of placentophagy in new mothers, the body of research is small and incomplete.  The anecdotal evidence, however, showing that placenta encapsulation can help ease a new mother’s transition into motherhood is overwhelming.  Women who consume their placentas often report:

Whatever the cause of placentophagy in the animal kingdom, it’s clear that moms from across the world are pleased with the results from utilizing their placenta for postpartum recovery. It’s exciting to see more research developing about this practice.  Stay tuned in 2016 for the results of UNLV placenta VS. placebo study to be published!

 

To read what moms in Baltimore and the surrounding area have to say about their experience with placenta encapsulation, visit our testimonials page & our Facebook page.

Babywearing: Some Unexpected Lessons

Today’s guest blog post comes to your from Paige Barocca of Baltimore Birth Services.  Paige serves the families in our community as a birth doula and a babywearing advocate. 

I’ve been an avid babywearer since the birth of my son in 2012. Like choosing the breastfeed, babywearing was just something that I knew I would do from the start. There were many reasons why I knew I would be wearing my baby. After wearing one baby into toddlerhood and starting all over again with my baby girl, I have come to realize that being a babywearing mama has taught me some unexpected lessons. First, I want to share three of my initial intentions when wrapping that first baby to my chest.

Babywearing deepens the bond between parent and baby.

Wearing your baby can be as calming and blissful as a good swaddle, with the added benefit of being snug right up to your chest. Sometimes I would even wear my baby skin to skin, under a robe or open sweater. To your baby, nothing beats that familiar smell and unmatchable warmth of a mother. Recreating the close quarters of a womb and combining that with human touch (dads too!) really is the perfect recipe to keeping that baby calm. This is especially helpful for breastfeeding moms, babies love the smell of mama’s milk, and what better way to encourage breastfeeding than resting near the source? Not to mention that fathers who may be wanting to connect with their newborns (and give mom a break!) can also do so through babywearing between feeding and during naps.

Babywearing meets your baby’s needs while allowing you to meet yours.

While your baby is cozy in the nest you made them on your chest, your hands can be free. I certainly don’t recommend doing housework immediately postpartum, but eating a meal (that someone else prepared you) is a lot easier with two hands! I’ve found this to be particularly helpful the second time around, while chasing around big brother. Speaking of toddlers, I can’t think of a better way to keep a busy babe happy and out of trouble in a grocery store- my son stayed strapped on my back every trip until the next was born! From doing your nails to walking the dogs, wearing your baby can give you that freedom that many new mothers feel they have lost.

Babywearing brings baby to the action.

Newborns sleep a lot, and usually at odd times! Getting in the habit of putting them down or tucking them away removes them from social situations. More so, if you have a baby that likes to be held, and very few don’t, you may find yourself removed from social situations as your arms become an immovable bed for your sleeping beauty. When you wear your baby, your baby goes with you, typically undisturbed by movement or change in environment. If your baby is awake, being worn can give baby a chance to see people interact at eye level, providing more social perks than being on the ground with a bunch of toys. I have worn my baby to busy restaurants, parties, meetings, you name it and we’ve been there.

Now for the juicy part. What are the life lessons that await any future babywearers? Spoiler Alert! Here are my surprise extras that I gained just for being a mama with a wrap.

Babywearing gave me confidence!

Babywearing is not totally difficult, you can choose to strap a baby in a backpack and call it a day. I really never loved the fit of a backpack on my petite body, or a sling on one shoulder, so my go-to style has always been a wrap. Choosing to wrap was easy, learning to wrap was tougher, and being confident in my skills, as well as my maternal instincts, took time! It was a while before I would use my wrap in a parking lot, or wrap without a mirror. As with every skill, I began to take pride in myself and this special talent that I could share with my babies.

Babywearing builds a village!

I have met so many wonderful friends through my love of babywearing and the style of parenting it represents. When wrapping, I often have strangers encouraging me, asking if I need any assistance. More than once I’ve had someone literally ask if they could just stand and watch me do it. (Again, talk about confidence boosting!) I’m often met with questions from new mothers about how I do it and where can they learn? Just today at the park I sparked a conversation with another mom as she asked, “How do you get her down from there?” I’ve become a teacher and supporter of my community simply by going outside with my baby! Babywearing has opened to doors to so many new adventures and introduced me to a number of beautiful people who now remain a big part of my life.

Babywearing does not look the same on everyone!

When I first set out to babywear, I went out and bought some fabric and sewed it all together. I came to realize there is a whole community of babywearers who do things all sorts of ways. This can be intimidating because some serious wrappers will spend oodles of money on one hand-woven, “dear-in-search-of”. Yes, that is a term!  Although they are beautiful, and I have a few moderately priced wraps, the wrap I tend to reach for the most is an Ikea sheet that I chopped in half. The response I get when I wear my sheet is just as grand (if not more!) then when I wear my Girasol Amitola Azafaran weft. Furthermore, there are so many different carriers! There are slings, and buckles, and mei tais, oh my! There are as many ways to wear your baby as there are reasons to wear them. Just like everything else in parenting, no single one is better than the rest, you just have to pick what works best for you!

 

Families Bond Through Infant Massage

Today’s post comes from Baltimore-based massage therapist, Jessie Bernstein, LMT, BCTMB, CEIM.  You can find Jessie teaching infant massage classes at Greenberries or providing therapeutic massage at Indigo Physio.

Nurture. Compassion. Intention. All of these are vital components when connecting with another form of life. Infant massage is one of the best ways to start introducing this lesson to our young ones. It’s such a fabulous way to initiate bonding between parent and infant. What I love about infant massage is that it benefits all parents and babies, including those with special needs. Infant massage is a remarkable resource for birth parents, adoptive parents, foster parents, single parents, and other caregivers being a part of an infant’s development.

As an infant massage instructor, one of the biggest impacts I have seen has truly been from witnessing fathers eagerly participate. Before dads attend the class, many struggle with confidence when tending to their newborns.  They want to feel nurturing, and supportive, but often feel a lack of connection since babies are so dependent on their mothers, particularly early on.

A father’s relationship with baby differs from mom’s in some ways, but they can build a nurturing relationship through different means. By learning touch, infant massage not only gives dads an esteem boost, but supports an established connection and enhances bonding. Touch is one of the most amazing forms of nonverbal communication, and is a valuable tool for the entire family to use. It’s such a pleasure to see the smiles and confidence grow in my students with each class, and the moms gleam with joy knowing their little one is connecting with dad.

Some of the benefits to the infant include:

My infant massage classes are laid back and informal to help you feel confident, and to prepare you with supportive techniques and encouragement. This 4-week series covers different topics each week and all of the supplies are included. Classes are currently being taught at Indigo Physio in Baltimore City. I also offer families private classes in the comfort of your own home. I encourage both parents or a parent and a caregiver, who has an active role in the infant’s care, to attend the series. In my experience, the whole family not only benefits, but also enjoys the class and time together.

If you are interested in learning more about Jessie and her services, she can be reached at 410.493.0196 or you can email her at  jab.massage at gmail dot com.