This article is from my book, Nourish & Thrive: Happy, Healthy Childbearing.
As this collection of materials is merely a reflection of my views as a midwife, it should not be construed as diagnostic or prescriptive.
Life is such a gift! I personally believe every person who’s appeared upon this planet was created by God, created in the image of God, and infused with the very breath of God. I believe each person was created with a special purpose in mind, and I believe a fully functioning physique and psyche is essential to enjoying life and fulfilling that purpose! While we’re all of equal value, we’re obviously not all physically equal. Not many of us are the tallest, not many are the strongest, not many are the most beautiful (but who decides that one anyhow?), nor will many of us live the longest. But what we all surely do have in common is the opportunity to make the most of who we are and what we have, if we’re willing to invest the time and energy required to do so.
Let’s look at some of the things we need to be mindful of in order to achieve a fully functioning physique and psyche.
Getting adequate sleep is vital. Adequate sleep includes the length of time you sleep, the actual times of the day you sleep, and how well you sleep while you sleep. Some of the amazing benefits of getting adequate sleep include elevated mood, reduced stress chemicals, improved memory and recall, improved coalescence of stimuli and information, improved ability to solve problems and gain inspiration, enhanced creativity, increased alertness and productivity, improved physical function and efficiency, and better general health. People need more sleep when pregnant, after giving birth, while nursing babies, when they’re fighting off or recovering from illness, while they’re recovering from surgery, and while grieving or under extra strain.
Humans function best on eight hours of sleep per night, and can really benefit from a ten to thirty-minute nap in the early afternoon. Humans are diurnal creatures—creatures who spend most of their daylight hours awake. Getting to bed and to sleep by nine or ten in the evening honors the primal call of our natures, and is ideal. It’s important to sleep in a dark room. Darkness aids the production of melatonin, a hormone involved in the synchronization of numerous biological functions. If you can, keep your room free from electronics, shut the shades, and turn your alarm clock on its face. If you’re unable to get your room sufficiently dark, consider wearing a sleep mask. A comfortable, supportive mattress is of value, too, but the most important thing is to craft and adhere to an evening routine. Aim for the same bedtime each night and select a few things you’ll do in preparation for your bedtime to set the mood for sleep—things like soaking in a salty tub, having a cup of tea, enjoying a bit of light reading, and making love with your spouse.
I’ve found a great many moms are reluctant to nap and for many reasons, from fearing they’ll get behind in their work, to feeling it reflects upon their work ethic. The truth is, however, you almost certainly will require at least one daily nap while pregnant and nursing. But remember and take heart! One of the primary benefits of napping is the ability to get more accomplished, and to get more accomplished well.
If you find you struggle to fall asleep or to stay asleep, put into practice the suggestions above, as well as the recommendations made in chapter five of this book, “Herbs & Etc For Pregnancy, Birth & Beyond,” pages 22-23 and in chapter ten, part four, “Common & Less Common Disorders & Discomforts, Challenges with Hormones” pages 67-70.
For information on ordering a sleep mask see “Supplement, Product & Practitioner Recommendations” on pages 92-96 at the back of the book.
I’m not going to go on and on here about smoking and air pollution, but I will say briefly that I believe it’s important to get out often into the woods and waters and wildlands of this gorgeous country for relaxation, to dust and change furnace filters regularly, and to thoroughly attend to moisture and pest problems should and as they manifest within your home.
Again, we’re talking about a foray into the wilderness! Or at least out into the yard. Sunshine is vital to the well-being of humans. We need exposure to it for the sake of our mindsets, for the sake of a variety of physiological processes, for the sake of those circadian rhythms. I firmly feel and suspect we’ll soon learn that the ill effects so many seem to suffer per exposure to the sun has more to do with substandard states of health than with exposure to the sun itself. Good things used otherwise to good sense always possess the ability to harm, and I think inadequate states of health exacerbate the inherent risk of many truly good things. Seek to build a thriving body able to withstand the rigors of our environment, rather than seek inordinate shelter from it.
Regular exercise is essential to Living Well! Exercise strengthens the body, forestalls aging, generates energy, increases libido, improves immune function, regulates blood sugar, boosts the utilization of oxygen, hones mental capacity, sharpens senses, enhances sleep, and lifts spirits. My personal regimen includes high intensity interval training sessions at least three days per week with a compliment of weight lifting. Such a regimen may be employed within pregnancy, provided you ease into it slowly, gradually increasing your activities while paying close attention to the signals and responses of your body. Remember to take the time necessary to warm up and cool down. One of my favorite workout contraptions for gestating bodies is the rebounder, or mini-trampoline. Every muscle in the body is jiggled and engaged when jumping on a rebounder and, while providing excellent exercise as well as a flush of the lymphatic system, it’s fairly easy on the joints. Plus, you can do it indoors while your little people are milling around. The perfect complement to such an exercise routine is yoga. Yoga is fantastic for achieving and maintaining proper alignment, flexibility, balance, and strength. Yoga teaches us how to use our breath to facilitate our movements, it creates a unique awareness of and connection with our bodies and their functions, and is a powerful relaxant. I also recommend scrupulous attention to the state of your core and floor—the musculature of your middle and your bottom. See the sixth chapter of this book, “Exercise,” and its several sections, pages 24-38, for a more in-depth discussion of the subject, including safety considerations.
The right amount of clean, filtered water spread throughout the day is a must for bodies growing babies. Multiply your weight by 0.67 to determine the number of ounces you need to guzzle every day. Remember, eight ounces make one cup, four cups make one quart, and four quarts make one gallon. Add twelve ounces for every thirty-minute session of exercise and bear in mind that extra water is needed while making milk. Adequate water intake maximizes the efficiency and function of every part of the body including the brain, heart, lungs, liver, kidneys, and uterus. It cools, it moderates blood pressure, it chases off headaches, it minimizes swelling, it whisks away toxins, and it lubricates joints. It’s best to drink smaller amounts more often, and to drink only a little with meals in order to avoid heartburn. Unsweetened herbal teas count as water and kefir waters and kombuchas are excellent hydrators as well, with the added benefit of balancing electrolytes and providing probiotics. Other drinks don’t rate quite so well. Milk and juices are basically foods, coffee can be dehydrating—if you elect to drink it, go for organic, shade-grown varieties—and soda is one of the worst substances on earth to ingest.
Ideal foods for nourishing your body through pregnancy, nursing, and all of life are whole, natural foods—foods as unmedicated and untreated and unfiddled with as possible. Enjoy liberal measures of deep sea fish; pasture-raised, organic, heritage-breed chicken, turkey, duck, sheep, and beef; wild game; eggs laid by pasture-raised, organic, heritage-breed chickens and ducks; raw and, ideally, cultured dairy products such as kefir and yogurt from pasture-raised, organic, heritage-breed goats and cows; raw butter from pasture-raised, organic, heritage-breed cows; the fatty portions of pasture-raised, organic, heritage-breed chickens, turkeys, ducks, geese, sheep, and pigs including tallow, lard, uncured bacon, and uncured sausage; and bone broths made from pasture-raised, organic, heritage-breed chickens, turkeys, ducks, geese, sheep, cows, and wild game. Add to these moderate amounts of fermented foods such as sauerkraut; soaked and/or sprouted nuts and seeds; organically-grown avocados and olives; cold-pressed oils from organically-grown coconuts, sesame seeds, and grape seeds; and organically-grown raw or lightly-cooked vegetables. On occasion, enjoy spare portions of organically-grown sweet potatoes and squashes and organically-grown, low-glycemic, raw or lightly-cooked fruits.
Salt food to taste with nourishing salts such as Himalayan pink sea salt or Redmond Real Salt. Eat when you’re hungry (even in the nighttime) and stop eating when you’re full. Eating this way keeps many of the more common ravages of pregnancy at bay, including blood pressure problems and blood glucose issues.
See chapter five, “Herbs & Etc For Pregnancy, Birth & Beyond,” pages 22-23 for a list of excellent supplements to add to your diet.
Foods to use as rare treats are sprouted and/or soaked organically-grown, old-world whole grains such as spelt, emmer, einkorn, and kamut; organically-grown white basmati rice; organically-grown fresh fruit and vegetable juices; organically-grown dried fruits; organic raw and local honey; maple syrup; and organic dark chocolate.
Items to avoid are corn syrups, fructose, table sugars, turbinado sugars, brown sugars, dextrose, glucose, sucrose, juice drinks, lemonade, soda pops, candies, commercial jellies, preserves, jams, corn chips, popcorn, white breads, white rolls, white pastas, pastries, cakes, cookies, doughnuts, boxed cereals, crackers, white potatoes and white potato products, processed cheeses, flavored milks, milk shakes, ice cream, lunch meats, hot dogs, cured bacons and sausages, hydrogenated oils, and partially-hydrogenated oils.
COMMUNICATION, THE BRAIN BODY CONNECTION
As master controller of the body, the brain is constantly communicating with every last one of its cells. Good connection and communication with the brain equals optimal performance of the body, as well as optimal repair as necessary. The spine houses the single link between the brain and the body. I urge regular visits to chiropractors who provide thorough evaluations regarding the status of your spine and personalized corrective care regimens. This may seem costly and inconvenient in the moment (as may all the suggestions listed here), but substandard health, injury, disease, and untimely death is costly and inconvenient, too, not to mention heart-wrenching.
For a list of fabulous chiropractors see “Supplement, Product & Practitioner Recommendations” on pages 92-96 at the back of the book.
Regarding teeth, allow me to say this: the state of a person’s teeth is directly related to their quality of life, as well as to their longevity. I recommend flossing before bed, brushing teeth and tongue twice daily with a mix of coconut oil and baking soda or with an activated charcoal paste, and swishing around a mouthful of sesame seed oil or coconut oil for ten to twenty minutes afterward.
THE STATE OF THE PSYCHE
Ours is a complicated world, and none of us are able to live in it without getting tarnished and marred to one degree or other, but the health of the female soul and spirit as she grows, births, and nourishes children is especially vulnerable and must be both cultivated and guarded. I objected when my first husband (my late husband) suggested to me some twenty years ago that I could modify my mood by controlling what I thought about, but I considered what he said and decided to give it a try. I was rewarded with the results! Gratitude proved key for me. I wrote out lists of things I was thankful for, and I read my lists aloud once per day. I moved on to altering my mindset—to viewing the challenges of my life from a vantage point of gratitude and working to unearth the things I could appreciate even within the challenges. See chapter four, “It’s As You Say!” pages 20-21 for further encouragement. I also learned to take a measure of time by myself each day to write in a journal, to read my Bible, to pray, to read other uplifting materials, and to think. I know this can be difficult to achieve with little folk underfoot, but when my folk were little, I made a consistent effort to rise a bit before them and, though I didn’t always manage to do it, I did do it often enough for the practice to prove invaluable.
Still, sometimes we get stuck. If you’re struggling, be sure to seek help! Emotional trauma stemming from all manner of sources can be stored in our physical bodies and is often at the root of things when find, as Paul wrote in the book of Romans, that we don’t do the things we do want to do even while we doing the things we don’t want to do. We respond poorly to our circumstances, to those we share life with, and even to ourselves. I personally have found a therapy called Splankna remarkably effective. It’s a Christ-centered, low-drama tool utilizing prayer, muscle testing, EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing), and TFT (Tapping or Thought Field Therapy) to reveal and clear the negative emotions we have hidden away inside us, releasing us to experience forgiveness, a renewal of our minds, a refreshing of our spirits, increasing peace and well-being within our relationships and environs, as well as a greater sense of purpose.
For a list of wonderful Splankna practitioners see “Supplement, Product & Practitioner Recommendations” on pages 92-96 at the back of the book.
Are you overwhelmed by this? Please don’t be! The idea is to make lasting, sustainable changes versus dramatic, temporary ones. Why don’t you pick a thing or two from each category to improve on, moving to other things over your days, months, and years? I believe you’ll find yourself feeling and functioning better and better as you go, and that always works to fuel the process of change. Compile your goals, make a plan, find an encourager to help keep you accountable, and determine to plunge forward, regardless challenges or set-backs. One day, likely sooner than later, you’ll realize you’ve accomplished a transformation and really are living very well!
Recommended Reading & Viewing List for CHAPTER THREE, LIVING WELL!
Book: Why We Get Fat, by Gary Taubes
Book: Keto Clarity, by Jimmy Moore and Dr. Eric C. Westman
Book: Nourishing Traditions, preface through page 65, by Sally Fallon, with Mary G. Enig PhD
Book: Anticancer, by David Servan-Schrieber
Book: What Every Pregnant Woman Should Know, by Gail Sforza Brewer, with Tom Brewer MD
Book: The Adrenal-Thyroid Revolution, by Aviva Romm, MD
Book: Water, the Ultimate Cure, by Steve Meyerowitz
Book: Maximized Living, by Drs Ben Lerner, Greg Loman, and Charles Majors
Book: Prescription for Nutritional Healing, Part One, “Understanding the Elements of Health” by Phyllis Balch CNC and James Balch MD
Book: Cure Tooth Decay, by Ramiel Nagel
for information about Splankna Therapy see splankna.com
Supplement, Product & Practitioner Recommendations
This section is broken down into a complete list of supplements, products, and practitioners listed in Nourish & Thrive. You may find them listed by section and, within the supplement and product sections, in alphabetical order.
Everything in the supplement section may be found on Amazon unless otherwise noted. I’ve listed the brands that appear the best to me and/or the brands I actually use. When searching for the products, you may need to include the word “organic” in order to find the product I listed. If you find a brand of anything you think is better, let me know!
activated charcoal capsules and/or powder: Schizandu appears to be a good quality option for food-grade charcoal
alfalfa tablets: PINES International looks like a good brand
arnica, homeopathic: arnica montana, 200c, by Washington Homeopathics at preciousarrows.com
Bach Flower Rescue Remedy
blueberry concentrate: Dynamic Health 100% Pure Blueberry Juice Concentrate
Bragg’s Apple Cider Vinegar
calcium, magnesium, potassium blend: Bone-Up by Jarrow Formula
chlorophyll, powdered: 100% Barley Grass Juice Powder by Teatox Life looks like a really good brand
co-enzyme Q 10: Ubiquinol QH-absorb, reduced form Co-Enzyme Q 10, 100mg, by Jarrow Formula
collagen: Great Lakes Gelatin Collagen Hydrolysate
cranberry concentrate: Dynamic Health Pure Cranberry, Unsweetened, 100% Juice
D mannose tablets: D Mannose, 500mg, by Superior Labs
basil oil, birch oil, clove oil, DigestZen by dōTERRA, Digize by Young Living, fennel oil, lavender oil, lemon balm oil, lemon oil, melaleuca or tea tree oil, On Guard by dōTERRA, onycha oil, peppermint oil, Thieves by Young Living, wintergreen oil: throughout this book, I recommend the use of essential oils. Young Living and dōTERRA oils are my favorites, and are best purchased through independent distributors. If you aren’t one or don’t know one, here are a couple ladies who can help you place an order: For Young Living oils, you may text Hannah Simmons at 269.986.5382. For dōTERRA oils, you may call or text Sarah Slone at 269.967.3529.
evening primrose oil: Evening Primrose Oil, 1300mg, by Sport’s Research
fermented cod liver oil: Fermented Cod Liver Oil by Green Pasture
flaxseed oil: Flaxseed Oil by Number One Nutrition
food enzymes: Dr. Formulated Enzymes, chewable, by Garden of Life
gentian violet: Gentian Violet 1% Solution by De La Cruz
ionic/colloidal silver: Sovereign Silver Bio-Active Silver Hydrosol
trace mineral blend: Trace Mineral Tablets or liquid by Trace Minerals Research
iron supplement: Iron & Vitamin Formula, Liquid, by Floridex
lecithin: Lecithin,1200mg by Pure Naturals. This lecithin is made from soy and while I’m no soy product fan, I’m no fan of recurring plugged milk ducts either. Lecithin made from other products such as sunflower seeds is available, I’m just cannot speak to their efficacy.
L-lysine: L-lysine, 500mg, by Superior Labs
magnesium spray: Ancient Minerals Magnesium Spray
methylated folate: BPlex-Pro, 1500mcg, by Nutra Care seems to be a good brand, but begin with Jarrow Formula’s Methyl Folate 5-MTHF, 400mcg and work up slowly until you’re ready to take the BPlex-Pro’s 1500mcg, especially if currently pregnant. Dr. Amy Neuzil has a great article about how to take methylfolate at dramyneuzil.com/the-best-dose-of-methylfolate-for-mthfr-mutants.
MSM: MSM Sulphur, 1000mg, by Jarrow Formula
prenatal or multivitamin, Garden of Life’s Vitamin Code
probiotic for adults: Bio-Kult Advanced Probiotic Multi-Strain Formula
probiotic for adults: Primal Defense ULTRA Ultimate Probiotic Formula by Garden of Life
probiotic for babies: Bio-Kult Infantis Supplement
psyllium husks: Organic India Whole Husk Psyllium or Psyllium Husk capsules, 500mg, by Viva Naturals
selenium: Garden of Life Organic Fermented Mushroom Complex with Selenium and Cat’s Claw
alfalfa tincture, astragalus tincture, butcher’s broom tincture, catnip tincture, chamomile tincture, crampbark tincture, echinacea tincture, false unicorn tincture, fenugreek tincture, hops tincture, lobelia tincture, nettle tincture, passion flower tincture, red raspberry leaf, skullcap tincture, valerian tincture, wild yam tincture: the herbal tinctures I recommend throughout the book, except for the herbal tinctures for gallbladder cleansing are produced by Limited Edition and may be found and purchased from Chupps Herbs and Fabrics, LLC in
Southwest Michigan, 269-659-3950 or at store.nutritionalresources.com/collections/limited-edition-herbs
gallbladder cleansing herbal tinctures: Chinese bitters tincture, GCC (golden coin grass) tincture, coptis tincture, and curcuma tinctures all by Prime Health Products and available for purchase at store.spiritofhealthkc.com
goat’s rue tincture: Goat’s Rue B60 Alcohol-Free Herbal Extract Tincture, Super-Concentrated Organic
Tylenol, Extra Strength
vitamin B6: Vitamin B6, 50mg, by Superior Labs
vitamin B Complex: Vitamin Code Raw B Complex by Garden of Life
vitamin C: Vitamin Code Raw C, 500mg by Garden of Life; Vitamin C with Amla Spray by Garden of Life, mykind Organics; Emergen-C
vitamin D3, Vitamin Code Raw D3, 5000IU, by Garden of Life
vitamin k2/d3 drops for babies: Baby Vitamin D & K Drops; 400IU D3,10mcg K2 MK-7; by Raise Them Well
whole fruit product: Juice Plus Orchard Blend: juiceplusmed.com
whole green food product: Juice Plus Garden Blend: juiceplusmed.com
zinc: Vitamin Code Raw Zinc, 15mg, by Garden of Life
Everything in the products section may be found on Amazon unless otherwise noted. I’ve listed the brands that appear the best to me and/or the brands I actually use. When searching for the products, you may need to include the word “organic” in order to find the product I listed. If you find a brand of anything you think is better, let me know!
almond oil: Almond Oil by Sky Organics
aloe vera gel: TheraNeem Neem Leaf and Aloe Gel by Organix South
ArniFlora Gel: ArniFlora by Boericke & Tafel
belly binders for baby: Luvable Friends baby belly binders
belly binders for mama: The Tummy Team 3 Panel Abdominal Rehab Splint at thetummyteam.com
blood pressure monitor: Wrist Blood Pressure Monitor by Omron
Boba Wrap: Boba Baby Wrap
B & W Ointment: B & W Ointment by Wholesome Specialties
coconut oil: Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil, Unrefined and Cold Pressed by Garden of Life
coffee for enema: PureLife Enema Coffee Organic Ultra Light “Gold” Air Roast
diaper cream: Burt’s Bees 100% Natural Diaper Ointment
disposable underpads: Super Plus Absorbency Incontinence Underpads, Extra Large, 25 Count, by Prevail
dropper bottles for tinctures: set of 12 Cobalt Blue 2oz Glass Bottles with Glass Eye Droppers by Vivaplex
enema kit: Premium Enema Silicone Enema Bag Kit, Non-Toxic BPA & Phthalates Free
gaze pads: Pro-Gauze Sterile Pads, 4″ x, 4″, 25ct, by Curad
glucometer: GE100 Blood Glucose Monitoring System
glucometer test strips: GE100 Test Strips 50ct
glucometer test lancets: TRUEplus Sterile Lancets 28 gauge 100ct by Nipro
heating pad: Automatic Digital Moist Heating Pad Heating Pad, 18” x 14” by Thermotech
Himalayan pink sea salt: Himalayan Salt, 2lbs Extra-Fine Grain by Sherpa Pink
Moby Wrap: Moby Wrap Original 100% Cotton Baby Carrier
Nature’s Cleanse: Nature’s Cleanse is a Melaleuca Company product, and must be purchased through an independent distributor. If you aren’t one or don’t know one, you may email me at email@example.com and I will help you place an order.
neti pot: Porcelain Neti Pot by Himalayan Chandra
Redmond Real Salt: Nature’s First Sea Salt, KOSHER, by Redmond Real Salt
sleep mask: Dream Zone Sleep Mask by Earth Therapeutics
stool for toilet: Squatty Potty at squattypotty.com
support stockings 30-40mm/Hg stockings may be purchased at supportsockshop.com.
thermometer: Vicks Comfort Flex Digital Thermometer
vitamin E oil: Vitamin E Oil Organic & Natural by Mother Nature’s Essentials
witch hazel: Humphrey’s Homeopathic Remedy Organic Witch Hazel
Kim Woodard Osterholzer, Colorado Springs Homebirth Midwife and Author
Books by Kim:
Homebirth: Safe & Sacred
Homebirth: Commonly Asked Questions
A Midwife in Amish Country: Celebrating God’s Gift of Life
Nourish + Thrive: Happy, Healthy Childbearing
One Little Life at a Time: Recommendations + Record Keeping for Aspiring Homebirth Midwives