Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Benefits of Red Rasberry Leaf Tea during Pregnancy

Whether you are trying to conceive or are in your last trimester of pregnancy, I highly recommend you consider adding red rasberry leaf tea to your daily diet. First recorded in the 1500's, the tea made from this herb (rubus ideas) has earned the reputation of being the safest and most effective of all uterine and pregnancy tonic herbs. It contains fragrine, an alkaloid which gives tone to the muscles of the pelvic region including the uterus. It is also a nourishing source of important vitamins and minerals. Red rasberry leaf tea contains a rich concentration of vitamin C, vitamin E and easily assimilated calcium and iron. The benefits of drinking a rasberry leaf tea before and throughout pregnancy include:
  • Increasing fertility (especially when combined with Red Clover)
  • Preventing miscarriage
  • Easing morning sickness
  • Reducing pain during labor and after birth
  • Assisting in the production of plentiful breastmilk

Red Rasberry leaf tea does not start labor or promote contractions. It is not an oxytocic herb. It does help strengthen the pelvic and uterine muscles so that once labor does start the muscles will be more efficient. I recommend my clients drink one cup per day prior to conception and during the first trimester, two cups per day during the second trimester, and three cups per day during the last trimester. To be most effective this tonic should be used regularly, five times a week or more. Sporadic use will not give you the best uterine toning effect, just as irregular exercise will not build your muscles. Even occasional use is beneficial though due to the nourishing vitamins and minerals found in red rasberry leaf tea. An easy way to add this pleasant tasting tea to your daily routine is to brew some to keep in the refrigerator. This makes it much easier to reach for instead of your usual beverage of choice. This one simple choice has helped many of my clients have a faster, easier, less painful birth.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Colick, Myths & Facts!

My second son Joshua cried for at least four hours straight every day. Nothing I did made it better. He was only two months old and I thought that I might lose my mind. The doctors casual, " It's just colick he'll grow out of it" made me feel helpless. I believed him and decided it was like a random plague that affects some babies and not others for no explainable reason. I have had moms tell me that they were colicky babies too and it must just run in the family. In a way they are right. We now know that most colick is not caused by gas as we were so often told. Colic is usually caused by one of two things. Lactose intolerance (which does seem to be genetic) which causes the lining of the stomach to be irritated and possibly bleed. Or by acid reflux which causes a painful burning of the esophagus. No wonder babies scream and can't be comforted!
There are two ways to determine whether you baby is lactose intolerant. My favorite is to take a stool sample in to the doctor and let them look at it under a microscope for traces of blood. Really simple! The other way is to take your baby off of all products containing lactose. If you are nursing this means you must not eat or drink anything with lactose in it.
If you determine that your baby isn't lactose intolerant then the culprit is most likely acid reflux or GER (Gastro Esophageal Reflux). Reflux most commonly occurs when the ring of muscle that joins the stomach to the esophagus does not function properly. This muscle, the lower esophageal sphincter, or LES, usually opens very briefly for swallowing or vomiting, and then closes again. But in reflux cases, the muscle stays relaxed and food and stomach acids can flow back into the esophagus. This causes an intense burning sensation. There are many treatment options for babies with GER. You should see your pediatrician for diagnoses and treatment options.
There are several things that can help make baby more comfortable. Be sure that baby is propped at a 45 degree angle during feeding and for at least half an hour after. Feed baby smaller more frequent feedings. Try Baby Bliss Gripe Water, this works wonders for some babies. It can safely be given before every feeding. Most of all make sure that you allow some down time for yourself. Having a baby with colick can be very stressful. Be kind to yourself and allow someone you trust to care for the baby while you do something just for you. If you don't have friends or family that can help call a postpartum doula. They are specially trained to care for colicky babies and can give you a much needed break.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Lullaby & Goodnight, Sleep Tips for Newborns.

When my phone rings late at night it is usually a new mom who is very sleep deprived. The conversation starts out quite business like and quickly moves to tears as mom tells me that she hasn't slept for more than a couple of hours in at least a week. My heart really goes out to these exhausted moms as I used to be one of them. As a postpartum doula it is so great to be able to come in and help families get some rest and to show them how they can teach their new babies to sleep better and longer. I recently had a home visit with a mom whose baby was two days old. The baby had kept her up all night wanting to nurse every hour, but in the light of day was now sleeping like an angel. I asked when the last time baby had nursed and she started counting on her fingers and decided it had been almost four hours. I recommended that she start to keep a log of babies feeding times and feed the baby every 2-3 hrs during the day even if this meant waking him up for a feeding. I also don't think it is a good idea to feed the baby more frequently than every two hours as this can cause digestion and reflux issues for baby. I showed this new mom how to swaddle her baby up tightly and explained how to activate her babies calming reflex when he was fussy. We talked about how important it is to swaddle baby up and lay him down while he is still awake to allow him to learn to fall asleep on his own. This is a skill that even a newborn baby can begin to learn. We also talked about the fact that babies will sleep better and longer if they are swaddled, propped on a wedge at a 45 degree angle, and have a white noise CD playing while sleeping A week later mom called to say how much better things were going. The baby was stretching out to 4 hours of sleep at night and was eating and sleeping better overall. She said her family was amazed at how easy it was to calm the baby when he was fussy using the calming techniques she had learned. This true story is what makes being a postpartum doula so rewarding. Postpartum doulas offer wisdom as well as practical and emotional support to new families. Research has shown that the incidence of postpartum depresion is significantly reduced in moms that have the support of a postpartum doula. If you are a new mom and feel you need a helping hand with your newborn please seek out a postpartum doula in your area. She can help you and your family get the rest and support you need. If you live in the San Antonio area and need help with your new baby please don't hesitate to contact me. I am always happy to hear from you!