April 8, 2013
by anna
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Momnesia

We have all heard it, if we haven’t said it before: “I have pregnancy brain!” As a midwife in training, I spend time with women who live with this reality every day. It tends to run into newborn brain as well. And sometimes mom brain.
It is so common, I actually don’t know one pregnant woman who has not experienced the memory loss that comes with bearing children.
What causes this? Is the brain actually impaired? Well, studies show that spacial memory is in fact limited; this is the part of the brain used to remember where things were, or why we walked into that room for the fifth time. Much of this change can be attributed to the lovely hormones that come with pregnancy. Estrogen and progesterone are increased 15% to 40% during pregnancy. The non-pregnant female experiences a spike in these hormones during the menstrual cycle. Estrogen spikes at the time of ovulation, and progesterone spikes between ovulation and menstruation (the PMS period), some may identify with memory loss on a small scale during these times.
Some say that momnesia occurs because the body’s first priority is to grow the baby inside, and second to take care of itself. The memory capacity is limited as a result of brain power being redirected to the uterus. Now, the brain is not actually affected, but it feels like it is because of all the hormonal changes and energy that is required to function normally and grow a new human at the same time.
When one notices that she is walking into a room several times a day and not remembering when she gets there why she is there, it may be a good idea to start simplifying life. Start making lists, jotting down ideas, questions for your midwife or OB/GYN, or grocery needs or to-do lists when they come to mind. It is much simpler to open that note pad or list on the phone than to retrace your steps to attempt to remember what it was. And if you add in a toddler? Forget all memory capabilities! Stress is a memory killer, so whatever stressors are possible to eliminate, now is a great time to delegate, ask for help, and to just take a step back from extra responsibilities. Saying no is ok.
During pregnancy, a woman’s body needs more sleep, and lack of sufficient sleep leads to memory malfunction. Newborns start out feeding every two hours or so. It is a great idea to increase the amount of sleep you are getting before the baby comes, so you are a little more stocked up and ready to go months without a full night’s sleep. (That was a joke.) I understand for many moms who have lives, that 8 hours of sleep is a luxury that is only dreamt about. Napping is your best friend! Sleep when baby sleeps; do not succumb to the temptation to clean your house! …Let the visitors do that. One of my favorite ideas is to hang a sign on the door that kindly informs visitors of a list of house chores for them to choose from before holding the sweet new baby.
Much of the friends and family we have visiting after a birth are well-intentioned, loving people who just don’t understand that if they only come to hold the baby, the mom who just labored for hours, birthed the baby, and is baby’s sole source of food, and is sleep deprived is going to get up and take out the trash because it needs to be done. We love our visitors, and we want them to come back, so a sweet, informative note is great!
One thing that may help with memory loss is a B-vitamin complex. A liquid form is best, as B-vitamins are fragile, and digestion doesn’t leave much of them for the body. It is pretty easy to find, as most drug stores carry them. Use a dropper full under the tongue, let it sit 30 seconds, then swallow. This is taking the vitamins sublingually, which allows them to be absorbed into the system directly. The flavor is not bad at all. A well rounded diet, especially protein, also helps balance memory function.

Lilia Designs

April 1, 2013
by anna
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Health Affects Childbirth

One of the most common complications in childbirth is a postpartum hemorrhage (bleeding too much after the baby comes). One factor that plays greatly into this issue is nutrition. If a body has the right vitamins, minerals and proteins to draw from, it has more strength to perform as intended during childbirth, and it has the ability to heal much more quickly afterward.
Food and beverages are the first thing we think of when we say nutrition, but so much more goes into it. Taking vitamins regularly, drinking the right herbal teas, getting enough rest and exercise as well are ways to improve our body’s health and resiliency. Some things we want to avoid are environmental toxins, cigarette smoke, processed foods, and of course, stress. Smoking cigarettes makes the skin much more fragile and easy to tear, and it causes placentas to form very poorly, affecting the amount of oxygen and nutrients the baby gets.
A woman’s body nearly doubles its blood volume in pregnancy, allowing for about 2 cups of blood loss just after the baby is born.  This protective mechanism causes the blood’s amount of iron to be diluted, or reduced somewhat.  Less iron in the body makes one tired, sluggish, dizzy or light headed, and possibly depressed; all because the blood’s oxygen-carrying capacity is deminished.  But eating foods rich in iron, cooking in cast iron pans, or taking an iron supplement may raise iron levels.

Some good sources of iron for the body are nettles tea, red meat, liver, clams, shrimp, pumpkin seeds, squash, nuts, beans, fortified grains, leafy greens like spinach, kale, and swiss chard, dark chocolate, and tofu.  Some sources of iron cause constipation, and those are usually the pills.  Floradix and Hema Plex are two that rarely cause constipation.  A sublingual liquid vitamin B12 complex can improve energy and focus.  Chlorophyll tastes funny but it can help improve blood iron levels if taken in addition to iron supplements.  The best method of increasing iron levels is food and teas, but supplements are good if food sources are lacking in your area or what is available to you.

To your health!

Lilia Designs

March 4, 2013
by anna
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Kegels For Everyone!

The kegel exercise has been around for decades, and it is not news to very many people. What may not be common knowledge, however, is that it is safe in pregnancy, and it is beneficial to do kegels after birth to prevent incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse.
Kegels are exercises that can strengthen your pelvic floor muscles; the ones that support your urethra, bladder, uterus and rectum. To do a kegel, stop the flow of urine, and you know you have the right muscles. Once you are have identified the muscles involved, do not continue to stop the flow of urine, as it may lead to urinary tract infections.
To perfect your technique, empty your bladder, and lie on your back. Tighten your pelvic floor muscles and hold for 5 seconds, then relax for 5 seconds. Try this five times in a row. Work up to holding contracting the muscles for 10 seconds at a time, relaxing for 10 seconds in between.
Be sure to only tighten up the muscles in your pelvic floor, and not in your abdomen or buttocks. Avoid holding your breath but instead breathe freely during the exercise. Three sets of exercises per day is sufficient.
Kegels are beneficial at any time, including pregnancy and postpartum. I have had women ask me if kegels have a negative effect on birth, i.e. increased tearing. But on the contrary, good musclular tone is beneficial. As long as you don’t go so far as to reach an olympic level, you should be fine. A few minutes a day of kegels will increase blood flow, which aides in healing after a birth, as well as in regaining tone and preventing urinary incontinence and uterine prolapse later in life.
During pregnancy, the baby presses on the bladder, leaving very little space for urine. When a sneeze results in a little accident, it is nothing to worry about. But this does not have to continue to be an issue long after the baby is born. Do not stress about speedy recovery, but instead start after birth with a few a day, and work up at your pace over the next months. Do them during breastfeeding, showering, eating lunch, or an activity you do every day that will trigger your memory.
If the above benefits are not enough, there is another one. Kegeling during intercourse is a free and easy way to spice things up. The increased blood flow and strengthened muscles improve the experience greatly.
Enjoy and happy exercising!
Lilia Designs

February 25, 2013
by anna
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Herbal Salves

Making your own salves at home can save you money and allow you to custom make each one to fit your family’s unique needs and scent preferences. Salves are good for healing, reducing scar tissue, fighting fungus such as athlete’s foot or ringworm, and many other uses.
Salves don’t need to be refrigerated, and they have a shelf life of about a year, or until they begin to smell rancid and turn white.
Here are the supplies you will need to make your own salves:
Olive oil
Beeswax (unbleached)
Dried herbs
Casserole dish, glass or ceramic (not aluminum or stainless steel)
Thermometer
Strainer
Cheese cloth
Potato ricer/ press (optional, it is helpful but not necessary)
Containers
Labels

Now for the fun part: making salves!
First, place the herbs in the casserole dish with olive oil, the herbs should be swimming in the oil.
Set the oven at 100 degrees F or plan for a warm, sunny day to sun bake.
Cook for 2 hours or more, checking the temperature often to assure that it stays at 100 degrees.
Break up the beeswax into small pieces.
Strain the oil well using the cheese cloth.
Add the beeswax little by little to the oil, stirring it in to melt it. Do not add all of the beeswax at one time; you can always add more beeswax if the consistency is not right.
Check the consistency of the mixture by taking a spoonful out and letting it dry. When you are satisfied with your salve’s consistency, pour into the containers and label with the name and date, ingredients are helpful to me because when I have different salves in the same containers, I forget what went into each one. Another suggestion is to label the salve with its uses.
Leave the lids off while it dries and cools.

For measuring purposes, you will lose some oil in the process, but it may end up balancing out with what beeswax is added in. For example, out of 14 ounces I lost 2, but added 3oz of beeswax for a firm consistency (like refrigerated butter).

A great book for herbs and their uses is Susan Weed’s Wise Woman Herbal for the Childbearing Year. Some herbs that are safe to use topically are dangerous to ingest, so please research before making teas & tinctures.
A few common herbs used in salves are calendula, comfrey, goldenseal, arnica, eucalyptus, peppermint, plantain leaf, and St. John’s Wort flowers.

Two recipes for common use salves:

For first aid ~2 parts Calendula, 1 part Comfrey, and 1 part Goldenseal.
Calendula flowers (petals only) are soothing, and make a great ingredient for diaper rash cream, or minor cuts and scrapes. Comfrey leaf is healing, and Goldenseal is both healing and acts as an antibiotic, for major scrapes.

Bites and Stings ~ 2 parts Plantain, 1 part Comfrey, and 1 part Goldenseal.
The Plantain has extracting properties, it works to draw out venom, infection, etc.

Happy salve-making!
Lilia Designs

February 12, 2013
by anna
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Kale Chips Recipe

Kale Chips – easy and quick to make!
These are great for a healthy popcorn substitute; they are crunchy and delicious.

Ingredients:
Kale – chopped
Olive oil
Sesame seed oil
Red pepper
Black pepper
Salt
Garlic powder
Onion powder

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 350.
In a mixing bowl, place the leaves and drizzle with both oils, just enough to lightly coat them. Toss to disperse the oil evenly.
Spread kale onto an oiled cookie sheet.
Sprinkle with each seasoning to taste. Kids may not like the red pepper.

Bake for 10-15 minutes. Ten if you want to keep the green; fifteen if you like it more crispy like I do. I think it tastes burnt after 20 minutes.
Serve within a few hours. It will lose its crisp by the next day if stored.

Enjoy!

Lilia Designs