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.
I wrote this article for my clients with a heart to provide both imagery for the creation of a birthing vision and a bit of practical information for them to absorb while they’re yet rested and able to think clearly!
My desire as I attend your homebirth is for all your hopes and dreams to be realized while I unobtrusively facilitate the smoothest transition possible of your little one from womb to world. So many amazing things are happening as a new baby is born! When you choose to give birth naturally at home, your system and your baby’s system is flooded with a variety of interesting hormones, one of which is oxytocin. Oxytocin, commonly called the “fall in love” hormone, is a hormone secreted by your endocrine system while you make love, while you birth, and while you breastfeed. When you labor privately and without medications, that “fall in love” hormone flows freely—and not only freely through you and your baby’s veins, it also flows freely through the veins of your man. The sensations of labor, the privacy of home, and the intimacy of your relationship with the father of your baby, all blend beautifully together to create an atmosphere ripe for the three of you to fall ever more in love. For this reason, I strive to keep quiet, to keep still, and to touch you and your baby as little as possible.
I’ll do my best to leave you and your husband alone as you labor and, during the birth itself, I’ll encourage the two of you to support your stretching, spreading tissues yourselves and to receive your baby with your own hands. I’ll pass you the blankets and you’ll dry the little thing off and tuck him up snug against your warm skin. I’ll refrain from putting a hat on your baby, as you’ll bond even more effectively with him if you’re able to smell his gooey, wet head. Plus, when you sniff his gooey, wet head, it signals your body to release your placenta and to cease bleeding. I’ll help you as needed as you move to nurse your baby, however, even then it’s best for the two of you if I’m able to keep my words and my touch slight. It’s ideal the baby’s umbilical cord remain intact until the baby has finished nursing, which usually is nearly two hours.
This period of time is so important! It’s far more than eating, as there’s only a teaspoon or so of colostrum in your breasts. The baby is soothing himself after all the sudden changes caused by his birth and, even more importantly, he’s bonding himself to you and to his daddy. This quiet time in the bed is a wonderful time for you and your husband to have a meal together while admiring your baby and marveling over his birth. In the meantime, I’ll be puttering about nearby, tidying things up, putting things away, filling out paperwork, assessing your perineum for tears, occasionally checking on the firmness of your uterus and the quantity of your blood flow, reading, knitting, possibly even taking a little nap—waiting till you call out to me that your baby’s through nursing and ready to be examined.
Once I’ve examined your baby and his placenta, I’ll see you to the toilet and shower and back, I’ll re-asses your uterus and blood flow, we’ll strap you into your binder, I’ll evaluate your vitals, and we’ll tuck you and your baby into bed. Around three hours after the birth of your baby—as long as both of you are doing well—I’ll go home. By this time, most moms and babies (and oftentimes dads) are sleeping peacefully. Probably you’ll be the first to wake, needing to use the bathroom, while your baby may very well sleep on, and sleep on for quite a while. For that first time of sleeping, just let the baby sleep and don’t worry overly much about nursing. He nursed to his heart’s content after the birth and is now accomplishing who-knows-what important things during that first sleep. Soon he’ll wake, and then he may want to nurse as often as every hour till your milk comes in.
NURSING YOUR BABY
Nursing a baby is natural, however, as with so many natural things—things like sex, things like birthing—especially in our culture—it’s a natural thing that doesn’t necessarily come naturally. The first and most important thing to know is your baby really, really wants to do it. The second most important thing to know is you both really can do it. Really you can. And I’ll help you.
Right from the Start
After a lifetime hoping, the magic of trying, nine months carrying, and some crazy long hours laboring, you’ve got a warm, wet babe in your arms! Never have you experienced anything like what you’ve just experienced and never have you ever felt quite the way you’re feeling right now! Enjoy the moment. Take all the time you need. I have no single other thing to do beyond whatever you need me to do to help you experience this irreplaceable moment in time just exactly the way you hope to experience it. Laugh. Kiss. Weep. Touch. Wonder. Examine. Whisper. Smell. Marvel. Sing. Stroke. Lie there ecstatic. Lie there overwhelmed. And then, when you’re ready, draw that little thing on up toward your breast, though he might have already found it himself!
From here it’s very important what you do and how you do it, because you’re laying the foundation for all the rest of your nursings with this person. Most of the trials a nursing mom faces can be minimized through careful attention to these next few sentences. First, the child needs to lie either perpendicular with your body, like the cross bar of the letter t, or exactly parallel with your body—either way, with his belly facing your skin. If you choose to hold him perpendicular to you, the baby’s head should be tucked into the crook of your elbow, his bare bottom in the palm of your hand. If you’d rather he lie parallel to you, you should recline enough for him to be able to hold his own head over your nipple while he works to get it into his mouth. Shift and adjust until the baby’s lips are straight across from your nipple, a half inch or so away. If the baby’s lying perpendicular to you, take hold of your breast in your free hand, thumb above and fingers below the circle of browner skin surrounding your nipple, and gently pinch, making the nipple protrude a bit. Now take that protruding nipple and brush it over your baby’s lips, from top to bottom to top to bottom till he opens his mouth. You want your baby to open his mouth wide, wide, wider—so wide! And when he opens so wide, bring him to you, plunging your nipple deep into his mouth, aiming that nipple straight toward the back of his throat. Sometimes it helps to drag the baby’s chin across the breast to really help him to open up. Once the baby’s latched on, take your forefinger and press it just slightly into the breast next to the baby’s nostril, making a little breathing space for him. He’ll let go if he can’t breathe.
I know this sounds fairly simple as I’ve written it here, but in reality, it’ll probably take a good measure of time, patience, and do-overs before the baby satisfies you with any sort of consistent, comfortable suckling. Some babies latch right on, but most are still coughing and sneezing and sputtering a bit as they begin to try. Some cry, still having things they want to tell you about what just happened to them before they feel ready to settle down to a supper. Many will stick their tiny pink tongues out toward your nipple, preferring to lick and taste a while before plunging in. Others will furrow their downy, soft brows when you first offer them your breast and try to take a peek at you, blinking and blinking and blinking their endless dark eyes and stealing your heart away. Howsoever your babe behaves, fret not. Just relax and enjoy. Like your midwives, you haven’t got anything better to do over these next few hours than introduce this child to life and to your breast. And remember, no matter how he acts, no matter how things went for your mom or your sister or your friend or your neighbor—this baby REALLY does want to nurse, and you REALLY CAN nurse him. Pretty soon. Keep trying. Keep trying and, all of a sudden, off he’ll go! And then he’ll surprise you and his daddy (and, later, his grandma and his aunt and your friend and the neighbor) by nursing one or two hours straight, stopping only occasionally to burp and switch sides. And possibly to make a black tarry mess in the blankets.
Quality & Quantity
At times bottle feeding is a necessity and, when it is, it’s life-saving. Still, it shouldn’t be thought of as one of two equally satisfactory choices. Bottle feeding is feeding a new baby a substitute for the unparalleled substance that is breastmilk and for the experience without equal that is breastfeeding.
Breastfeeding is feeding a new baby a substance specially created for that very baby by you! The substance changes in composition, temperature, and quantity from feeding to feeding, based entirely upon what your baby himself has indicated he needs. Your body alters the milk according to your child’s age, according to your child’s body temperature, according to the time of day your baby is feeding, according to the way your baby smells and tastes to you when you kiss soft cheeks, and according to your baby’s most recent pattern of nursing. Breastmilk and your ability to craft it, is truly a wonder.
Your breastfed baby will consume a mere one teaspoon to one and a half teaspoons of milk per feeding on his first day of life, from three and a quarter tablespoons to nearly six tablespoons per feeding by his third day, and from two ounces to two and two-thirds ounces per feeding by his tenth day. Because your breastfed baby consumes so little per feeding, he’ll need to nurse far more often. A breastfed baby ought to be nursed on demand. Your baby is marvelously equipped to know exactly how often to nurse in order to adequately meet the needs of his rapidly growing body. A breastfed baby will often nurse every hour until his mother’s milk comes in. A woman’s milk comes in gradually from the point of birth. Her breasts are usually nice and full between the third and the fifth day and the milk is generally mature between the tenth to the fourteenth day. Once a woman’s milk is in, most babies will spread their feedings out to every two hours or so during the day and every three to four hours through the night, though the frequency of feedings will pick up dramatically during spurts of growth.
The consistency of your breastmilk changes throughout a feeding. The first milk to flow, called the foremilk, is thinner and watery. The milk flowing as the breast is emptying, called the hindmilk, is fattier. Interestingly, the milk a mother makes at nighttime is fattier than daytime milk. This fatty nighttime milk is vital for your baby’s brain development. In order for your baby to fully benefit from both your fore and hindmilk, it’s important he drain at least one of your breasts each time nursing. Drain the breast you begin feeding with before switching. At the next nursing, start with the second breast. Some babies are quicker than other babies at draining breasts. You’ll soon learn how long it takes for your baby to empty one of your breasts. And you’ll learn to know when a breast is empty. Don’t forget to burp your baby here and there, too, as air bubbles will make him feel falsely full. Many times a baby will drain both your breasts during a feeding and then keep right on nursing. This is your baby’s way of letting your body know he needs more milk. Your body will respond to his request within twelve to twenty-four hours, provided you’re getting enough to eat and drink, and plenty of rest.
Pacifiers & Bottles
It’s advisable to limit the use of both pacifiers and bottles, especially through the first six weeks after the baby’s birth. This practice will spare you and your child the trauma of nipple confusion, nursing strikes, low milk supply, inadequate weight gain, tummy aches, constipation, structural challenges, developmental delays, unnecessary exposure and susceptibility to harmful microorganisms, and a premature return to fertility.
The issues of sore nipples, engorgement, low milk supply, upset tummies, thrush, mouth malformations, plugged ducts, and mastitis are addressed in chapter ten, “Common & Less Common Discomforts & Disorders, Part Seven, Breastfeeding Woes,” pages 81-83.
Q & A – WHAT’S NORMAL IN THE FIRST FEW WEEKS AFTER BIRTH?
The first few days after the birth of a baby is such a vulnerable time! I urge you to minimize visitors besides grandparents, etc., till the end of the baby’s first week. See chapter ten, “Common & Less Common Discomforts & Disorders, Part Six, Oddities with Babies,” pages 75-80 for more information regarding the issues described in this section.
Your Baby’s Temperature
Contrary to popular thought, your baby will have very little trouble maintaining his body temperature because of the delay in clamping his umbilical cord and the skin-to-skin time he’ll enjoy with you. The rule of thumb is, if you’d be warm enough wearing what he’s wearing, so will he. Of course, that also means if you’d be hot wearing what he’s wearing, so will he. An over-bundled baby is generally a cranky baby, though occasionally they’re sleepy babies who fail to nurse as they ought. Bear in mind a baby’s hands and feet will nearly always be purplish and cold for a few days. This is normal and doesn’t mean the child is chilly. If you’re concerned your baby’s too chilly, take his temperature. If his temperature is between 96 and 98 degrees under his arm, he’s plenty warm.
Your Baby’s Heart & Lungs
The most important thing regarding your baby’s vital functions is this: if your baby’s pink and peaceful, most likely he’s healthy. If he’s otherwise, call right away.
Your Baby’s Weight: Losses & Gains
Your baby will lose somewhere from a half pound to more than one pound over those first few days he’s waiting for your breasts to fill. This is normal and even necessary. Because babies spend their life prior to birth in a pool of water, their tissues carry a bit of excess fluid that requires shedding. I’ll visit you for the first time on the first to second day after the baby’s birth when he’ll yet be in the process of losing that weight. At my second visit when he’s five to seven-days old or so, it’ll appear he hasn’t gained well because through those days after my first visit, he’ll have lost a bit more weight, stabilized, then only just begun to climb back toward his birth weight. I use the weight at that five to seven-days old visit as our starting point. From there I’ll expect to see a gain of four to six ounces per week. Most babies regain their birth weight by our next visit at their second week post-birth, and they should gain at least one additional pound by our fourth visit at six weeks post-birth. If your baby provides you with lots of wet and soiled diapers and gains those four to six ounces per week through his first three to four months of life, you can be sure you’re making all the milk he needs. Your baby ought to double his birth weight by six months, and triple it by a year. Don’t be afraid to hold off a nice, long while on the introduction of solid foods—eight to ten months is fine, and I’ve known women with especially rich milk to nurse exclusively for an entire year! When you do get started on the solid foods, always nurse first, then break out the spoon. Two excellent articles on the subject are “Nourishing a Growing Baby” by Jen Allbritton and “Feeding Babies” by Sally Fallon and Mary G. Enig. You’ll easily find these articles in a google search.
What Your Baby Puts in His Diaper
Your baby most likely urinated at birth, which would’ve been nearly impossible to notice. He may very well have moved his bowels, too. That would’ve been very noticeable. Either way, watch for your baby to urinate and move his bowels. Most babies do both a number of times through the first couple days, with the frequency of occurrences diminishing every day thereafter until your breastmilk comes in. This means he may only urinate once or twice that last day without passing a single bowel movement. Initially, your baby’s bowel movements will be a black, sticky, tarry substance called meconium. The meconium will gradually turn from black to brown, then finally, with the influx of milk, will transform to loose, curdy, mustard-yellow stools. A generous swipe of almond oil across the buttocks and genitals of your baby will help the meconium wipe off more easily at those first few diaper changes. Once your milk comes in, you can expect six to eight good and wet diapers a day. Usually a breastfed baby will move his bowels several times each day as well, but occasionally a little one appears who only makes a mess a couple times a week. This is considered normal, however, if you can help him to pass stool more often you’ll probably have a much happier baby. The best way to promote frequent movement of his bowels besides frequent feedings, is visits to the chiropractor. You may also tickle the baby’s belly and gently massage his anus. Lay the baby on his back, gently bend his knees, and working from the lower right side of his belly in a circle around to the lower left side of his belly, tickle him. And pay a little extra attention to the lower right side of his belly just inside the hip groove, the place right over his ileocecal valve. This extra attention will help the valve to function properly, minimizing bouts of spit up and tummy ache. The tickling relieves gas pains and stimulates the passage of stool. With your fingertip, very gently touch and massage the tissue of your baby’s anus. Such touching will oftentimes stimulate the baby to give a push and move his bowels. You may also hang your baby upside-down a little every day. Firmly, but very gently grasp him by his ankles. Slowly and carefully lift him by the ankles until his entire body and head is free from all surfaces. Hold him there for ninety seconds, being careful not to touch him. He’ll cry, but he’ll also begin to twist and shift and work out any kinks along the length of his spine. This will go a long way toward relieving untoward pressure on his nerves and may possibly even release him to move his bowels more often.
Your Baby’s Bruised Face, Swollen Scalp, and the Brown Spots in His Eyes
Many babies are born with bruised faces and odd, swollen lumps on their heads. These things don’t look so great, but they’re normal and usually harmless. The bruised faces most often show up after especially rapid births, while the swellings come after heads sit for long periods of time over partially open cervices. Both are apparent at birth and generally resolve within the first twelve to twenty-four hours after birth. Swellings that appear later should be brought to my attention. Sometimes the pressure from birthing causes one or more tiny blood vessels in one or both of your baby’s eyes to rupture. The rupture or ruptures will reveal themselves in the day or days after his birth and, though often alarming, are nothing to worry about. Your baby’s eyes will clear up nicely over the course of a few weeks.
Your Baby’s Head
Remember, the plates of your baby’s skull shifted and collapsed a bit to allow him to pass through your bony pelvis. In the days following his birth, those plates will gradually spread back out to resume their proper positions. The action of the baby’s jaws while breastfeeding work to accomplish this, as do you as you unthinkingly stroke it. This is yet another reason I keep the hat from your child’s head. The hat can actually restrict the corrective motion of his plates.
Your Baby’s Belly Button
At your baby’s examination, I treated his umbilical cord stump with a dried mix comprised of golden seal and Oregon grape root. There’s no need to do anything else to the stump besides keep it covered with a clean gauze pad. The cord stumps usually fall off around the sixth day it seems, and they’re pretty stinky the day before they fall off. And they very rarely fall off cleanly. For several weeks, the navel will be a bit oozy and gooey. Still, do nothing. Remember, the navel is the ends of three severed blood vessels that are trying to heal. They’ll heal best if left alone. Also, often they look weird for a surprising long while. The whole thing just needs time to heal and shrink and for the slightly separated abdominal muscles to close. Time will pass and the thing finally will be clean and look normal, or at least will be as clean and as normal-looking as a belly button gets. If the navel is truly protruding, appears infected, or bleeds beyond a bit of spotting, call.
Your Baby’s Belly
For centuries newborn babies’ bellies were gently bound. The benefits of binding are thought to include a reduction of colic (disconsolate crying) by comforting the baby and warming his belly, as well as providing protection of the healing navel. A handful of us are beginning to wonder if the abandonment of the practice through the mid-twentieth century is part or all of the reason we’re finding so many young women—women who haven’t been pregnant yet and are without excess weight issues—and men, also minus weight issues—with diastasis recti, or separation of the abdominal muscles. I’m encouraging the families in my practice to resume the practice for all the reasons listed above, but especially for the last. It’s said it takes three to four years for the child’s abdominal muscles to strengthen sufficiently enough to effect repair of the separation. Possibly, it would close more quickly if bound for a while. I recommend you keep your child’s belly bound till he’s walking, as I suspect the effort of rolling and crawling while bound enhances the mending action of the tissues.
For information on ordering a baby belly binder see “Supplement, Product & Practitioner Recommendations” on pages 92-96 at the back of the book.
Tummy Time for Your Baby
In order to strengthen the muscles of your baby’s neck, back, arms, and legs, you’ll want to strap him into his binder and allow him a bit of time every day on his tummy. This time will strengthen the muscles of his core and will prepare him for rolling over and sitting up. It also helps prevent the back of his head from flattening which is an, unfortunately, common phenomenon of our culture. Though the baby may complain initially, beginning around his second week try placing him on his belly for thirty to sixty seconds after each diaper change. Gradually increase the time your baby spends on his belly, with goals set for three five-minute sessions by his two-month day, and three fifteen-minute sessions by three months. Let it be a play time, encouraging him to stay on his belly for as long as he will. Once he starts rolling over on his own, you may discontinue scheduling tummy time—he’ll take it from there just fine, thanks!
Bathing Your Baby
The amniotic fluid and vernix covering your baby’s skin sports powerful antimicrobial properties that protect him from the plethora of germs in the world around him and is best left undisturbed from four to seven days after his birth. I recommend waiting to bathe your baby at least until his umbilical cord stump falls off, and then I recommend the use of only epsom salts in his bath water and a natural lotion for his skin. A bit of time in the open air after bath time will help prevent diaper rash, as will a nice, creamy layer of coconut oil on his bottom. Cradle cap, so common among newborns, may also be treated with coconut oil and vigorous application of a small barber’s comb. Massage the coconut oil into his scalp, then gently scrub the scales off with the comb. When you’re through, wipe away the mess and massage a bit more coconut oil into his scalp.
Baby Wearing & Co-Sleeping
Contrary to popular opinion, you won’t spoil your baby by holding him continuously, nor will you kill him by sleeping with him. Elizabeth Antunovic describes in her article, “The Second Nine Months, Exterogestation and the Need To Be Held,” the unavoidable immaturity of the human newborn and his need to be kept close through the first nine to ten months of his life via skin-to-skin contact, nursing on demand, baby wearing, and co-sleeping. Human babies are born more remarkably immature than any other creature on earth. Most mammals are born with brains already half the size they’ll be at adulthood and with the ability to get around on their own very soon after their births. Humans on the other hand, are born with mere quarter-sized brains, and go nearly a year before they’re notably mobile. Your baby’s transition from a tiny, helpless babe to a respectably self-propelled child occurs gradually over the course of approximately 266 days. Interestingly, this is the same amount of time your baby spent hidden away in your womb. It’s been discovered that providing regular periods of skin-to-skin contact with your baby, nursing him on demand, wearing your baby in a wrap or sling, and sleeping with your baby (in your bed, not on chairs or sofas), mimics both the security and the stimulus of the womb, while allowing the child the opportunity to learn about and interact with the world around him. This mimicry optimizes the physical, emotional, and psychological development of your baby. It regulates his body systems, kick starts and facilitates the function of his immune system, activates his senses, lights and fans the fires of learning, and lays the foundation of his future relationships. Dr. Sharon Heller echoes these sentiments in her book, The Vital Touch: How Intimate Contact With Your Baby Leads To Happier, Healthier Development, as does Jean Leidloff in her book, The Continuum Concept: In Search of Happiness Lost.
Additionally, contrary to the American/European style of feeding and handling babies, demand nursing, baby wearing, and co-sleeping, dubbed “Ecological Breastfeeding” in Sheila Kippley’s book, The Seven Standards of Ecological Breastfeeding, will also encourage a delay in your return to fertility.
Your Uterus & Blood Flow
After the birth of your baby, your uterus immediately goes to work, first, to stop the flow of blood from the placental attachment site and, second, to reduce itself to nearly its pre-pregnant shape, size, and placement within your body. It does this via contractions. And those contractions, though necessary, can be mighty uncomfortable. However, if your uterus is able to remain contracted once it contracts, you’ll be much more comfortable. Wearing your binder and keeping your bladder empty are your best tools for rapidly reducing the size of your uterus, slowing the flow of your blood, and minimizing your afterpains. I recommend you wear your binder twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, for a full six weeks after the birth of your baby. While first-time moms and a smattering of others aren’t troubled with afterpains or find dropperfuls of crampbark tincture adequate to assuage their discomfort, many times moms will require more powerful aid for the thirty-six to seventy-two hours following the birth of their baby. I offer 400mg of ibuprofen upon delivery of the placenta and 400mg extra strength acetaminophen two hours later. Every two hours one or the other dose may be repeated. When you’re ready to check and see how you do without the pain relievers, do so during daylight hours rather than at bedtime. Dearth of sleep per frequent feedings mixed with pain can make for extraordinarily long and miserable nights. Your uterus should be firm as a grapefruit and around the level of your navel in the hours after birth. Gradually, while remaining firm, it will sink lower and lower till, around fourteen days after birth, it’ll have returned to the size of your fist and disappeared behind your pubic bone.
The flow of blood through the first twenty-four hours after the birth of your baby is usually fairly heavy, heavier even than a normal period. It will likely be clotty, too, with some surprisingly sizable clots. It should settle down to resemble a heavy period over the next day, then diminish to a more moderate flow for a number of days after that, slowly but surely decreasing in both brightness and volume till it disappears entirely somewhere around your fourth or fifth week. Sometimes a brief episode of bleeding will occur around your sixth week.
Too much blood loss is so much that you soak your pad in twenty minutes or less, then go right on to begin soaking another after that. Should this occur, lie flat on your back and massage your uterus back to firm as a grapefruit at or below your navel. If this effectively stems the tide, well and good. Then call me. If the vigorous massage doesn’t stop the flow, don’t even call. Head straight for the emergency room and call me later. Try to remember to take your “Cooperation Card” with you.
Care of Your Tender Parts
Whether you sustained a laceration and required a few stitches or you escaped unscathed, the care of the post-birth bottom is very much the same. Sit with your legs together and be careful how you get on, but especially, how you get off your bed. Don’t drag or scoot your bottom across it! Roll off and crawl on. Avoid trips up and down stairways as much as possible. Squeeze at least half a squirt bottle filled with warm water and a little bit of Melaleuca’s Nature’s Cleanse or a few drops of tea tree oil across the surface of your privates after each trip to the toilet, then gently pat dry. Once or twice a day, soak for twenty to forty minutes in a freshly scrubbed bathtub filled with a quarter to a third bag of epsom salts. Give yourself a full six weeks rest before resuming sexual intimacy with your man.
What You Put In & What Comes Out
It’s vitally important you attend to your intake as carefully as you did during your pregnancy. Drink, drink, drink! It takes sooooo much fluid to make enough milk! Never sit down to nurse without having a glass of water or a mug of tea handy. Continue making healthy food choices, as described in chapter three, “Living Well!” pages 16-19, increasing quantity as your appetite demands, even eating yogurt or drinking kefir or raw milk through the nighttime if you find you wake hungry. It actually takes more calories per day to make adequate amounts of breastmilk than it does to maintain a pregnancy. Continue with your prenatal regimen of herbs, vitamins, minerals, and etc., as described in chapter five, “Herbs & Etc For Pregnancy, Birth & Beyond,” pages 22-23—minus alfalfa till your milk supply returns to normal after engorgement. Continue with your fiber supplement and a diet rich in veggies as the hormones of early motherhood often render a woman fairly constipated. Refer to the recommendations found in chapter ten, “Common & Less Common Discomforts & Disorders, Part One, Challenges with the Digestive System,” pages 52-55 and chapter ten, “Common & Less Common Discomforts & Disorders, Part Three, Challenges with the Circulatory System,” pages 62-66 to deal most effectively with both or either constipation or hemorrhoids.
Often a mom won’t pass a bowel movement till a couple days after birth. Please let me know if you have any problems whatsoever evacuating your bowels or emptying your bladder after the birth of your baby.
Your Activity Levels
The pressing question regarding what you can and cannot do in the days and weeks following the birth of your baby is this: what’s your body telling you? Listen to your body by noticing your energy levels, as well as the quantity and quality of your blood loss. If you push too hard past tired, your flow will usually increase and redden and you’ll suffer longer. At the same interesting time, if you linger too long in bed and are too much inside, your head most likely will suffer! It’s a delicate balancing act, but one you’re most qualified to evaluate. Don’t be afraid to take it easy through those first few days and weeks. Remember the size of your baby’s placenta? That’s the size of the raw spot within your womb that’s trying to thoroughly heal. Listen, trust, obey. You’ll be back to normal before you know it, and probably longing for one of those lazy postpartum days from time to time.
You & Your Baby’s Sleep Patterns
As written above, though your baby may initially sleep for hours on end, he’ll eventually wake and then, though he’ll probably still sleep a lot, he’ll very often awake to nurse. This means it’ll be a long time before you get more than three to four hours uninterrupted sleep, so it’s vitally important both for your physical well-being and for your mental and emotional health that you snatch every moment you can to snooze a bit. Also, it isn’t at all unusual for a newborn to be more alert at night than during the day for a time—sometimes for even a week or two. This is a very normal response to the incredible stimulus of daytime life outside the womb. Be patient, and refrain from interacting with him beyond quickly changing him under muted lights and settling him back at your breast. Soon enough, his diurnal nature will kick in and correct him. Here and there an unusual baby will delight his parents by sleeping long periods at night, or even the whole night through. If your baby happens to be one of those sorts of babies, you’ll probably want to set a timer at night to ensure the child is waking at least every four hours to nurse. Nighttime nursings are essential for brain development and have the added benefit of forestalling the return of your fertility. Consider bringing the baby to bed to better facilitate this.
If you find you’re unable to fall asleep regardless how terribly tired you are, you may take something like Advil PM at bedtime instead of merely plain ibuprofen for afterpains. The regimen for insomnia described in chapter ten, “Common & Less Common Discomforts & Disorders, Part Four, Challenges with Hormones,” pages 67-70 should be followed. And talk to me. Insomnia is too often the precursor and companion of postpartum depression. The issue of postpartum depression is discussed in “Common & Less Common Discomforts & Disorders, Part Four, Challenges with Hormones” as well.
Adjusting to motherhood
Welcoming a new life into the family, why, there’s nothing in all the world like it—your soul will sing for joy and your heart expand to bursting!
AND your ability to cope with the change and all it demands may bring you mighty near bursting, too.
My two newest grandchildren were born five weeks apart in the late summer and early fall of 2017 and I had the pleasure of dividing ten weeks between the two families the babies were born into. I had the time of my life! It was also crazy, hard work. I cooked, cleaned, laundered, changed the trash, washed the dishes, and fetched the groceries. I examined, massaged, counseled, advised, and soothed the mamas. I massaged and advised the dads. I entertained, disciplined, fed, bathed, and bedtimed the toddler and looked after the dogs. When I wasn’t doing any of that, I changed an endless stream of poopy diapers and patted the wee newborns to sleep. Usually I fell asleep right along with them! Thank goodness babies don’t care how frequently grandmas manage to brush their teeth or shower. My husband would occasionally send a text to tell me he missed me. I probably texted back, “Wait, do I know you?” I came home and slept eleven hours for each of three nights running. Then I took a long, hot bath, shaved my hairy legs, tweezed the caterpillars that had once been my eyebrows, applied a bit of make-up, did my hair, put on real clothes, and jumped when I saw the stranger in the mirror.
The experience really got me to thinking about the way we do postpartum here in America. My daughter and my daughter-in-law are smart, strong, healthy, incredibly capable women and, though my daughter-in-law’s birth was a tricky one—my grandson came footling breech—physically speaking, the women had two very normal births.
Still, they needed every bit of the help they received from me. But who around here gets that kind of help these days? Moms have their babies and are expected to almost instantly re-enter their lives. Both my son and my son-in-law are spectacular husbands and fathers but they, too, were forced immediate re-entry—heading straight back to their jobs almost the moment their babies arrived, unable to be there for their wives and little ones as much as they’d liked.
This is what I know for sure. No matter how smart, strong, healthy, and incredibly capable you are—no matter how simple your birth may have been—you’re not alone, strange, or a bad mother if you find yourself feeling overwhelmed—or even like you may have made a most dreadful mistake in having a new baby.
Talk to your family and friends and see if you can arrange for some help after your birth. Or consider investing in a postpartum doula. If you cannot arrange for anything, again, at least know you’re not alone. I won’t be able to come stay at your house for the three weeks after you birth your baby, but I want to be there for you however I can, so talk to me.
And when one of your friends next has a baby, try to be and do for her what you needed. Let’s see if we can raise awareness about this issue and change the culture!
There really are so very many things to know and to think about in regard to the little life entrusted to your care! Take all the time you need to really research the positive and negative aspects of each issue you face and to familiarize yourself with your options. Many of the choices you’ll face are highly controversial and, therefore, merit careful consideration. Do NOT allow yourself to be pressed by ANYONE into making decisions that likely will affect your child in one way, shape, or form throughout his lifetime until you have peace in your heart about your choice. You always have time to research the issues. Some topics worthy of study include the birth pause, the breast crawl, lotus birthing, placenta consumption, elimination communication, cloth diapering, circumcision, vaccinations, and child spacing and/or birth control. In addition, examine and consider the pros and cons of the various traditional and alternative healthcare philosophies and modalities, child rearing methods, and choices for educating your child, as well as ways to mix, match, and blend them to best suit your unique family. I carry a number of articles and books you’re welcome to borrow and read pertaining to the subjects listed here, and I’m more than willing to share my own thoughts and experiences per these matters with you as you desire. All you need do is ask.
A FINAL WORD
Finally, congratulations as you embark upon this unrepeatable journey with your child, be he your first or your fifth or your fifteenth. Every child is new and different! Every parenting journey an amazing privilege and adventure! May you and he enjoy every blessed moment!
And thank you for allowing me to serve you.
Recommended Reading & Viewing List for YOU & YOUR BEAUTIFUL BABY
BIRTH & POSTPARTUM
for information about The Birth Pause see thebirthpause.com
for information about The Breast Crawl see breastcrawl.org
for information about Lotus Birthing see lotusbirth.net
for information about Placenta Consumption see placentabenefits.info
Book: Babies, Breastfeeding, and Bonding, by Ina May Gaskin
Book: The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding, by La Leche League International
Book: The Seven Standards of Ecological Breastfeeding, by Sheila Kippley
Article: “Nourishing a Growing Baby” by Jen Allbritton at articles.urbanhomemaker.com/index.php?article=891&o=save
Article: “Feeding Babies” by Sally Fallon and Mary G. Enig at westonaprice.org/health-topics/childrens-health/feeding-babies
HEALTHCARE FOR FAMILIES
for information about Natural Family Planning see nfpandmore.org
for information about Circumcision see drmomma.org
for information about Vaccinations see mercola.com
Book: How to Raise a Healthy Child in Spite of Your Doctor, by Robert Mendelsohn MD
Book: Natural Healthcare for Your Child, by Phylis Austin, Agatha Thrash MD and Calvin Thrash MD MPH
Book: Prescription for Nutritional Healing, by Phyllis Balch CNC and James Balch MD
Book: Vaccine Choices, Homeopathic Alternatives and Parental Rights, by Patty Brennan
Book: No More Amoxicillin, by Mary Ann Block DO
Book: Marriage on the Rock, by Jimmy Evans
Book: The Five Love Languages, by Gary Chapman
Book: Love & Respect, by Emerson Eggerichs
Book: Taking Charge of Your Fertility, by Toni Weschler
Book: Sheet Music, by Kevin Leman
Book: Intimate Issues, by Linda Dillow and Lorraine Pintus
Book: The Total Money Makeover, by Dave Ramsey
Article: “The Second Nine Months, Exterogestation and the Need To Be Held,” by Elizabeth Antunovic at boba.com/pages/the-second-nine-months
Book: The Vital Touch: How Intimate Contact With Your Baby Leads To Happier, Healthier Development, by Dr. Sharon Heller
Book: The Continuum Concept: In Search of Happiness Lost by Jean Leidloff
for information about Elimination Communication see diaperfreebaby.org
Book: The Key to Your Child’s Heart, by Gary Smalley
Book: A Thomas Jefferson Education, by Oliver DeMille
Book: Wild at Heart, by John Eldredge
Book: Captivating, by Stasi & John Eldredge
Books: The Gift of Fear, and Protecting the Gift, by Gavin De Becker
Book: Think Differently, Live Differently, by Bob Hamp
Book: Daring Greatly, by Brené Brown
Book: Braving the Wilderness, by Brené Brown
Book: Grit, by Angela Duckworth
Book: Ordering Your Private World, by Gordon MacDonald
Book: The Slight Edge, by Jeff Olson
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: