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Category: Breastfeeding and Postpartum

We’re Pregnant with Baby #2!

We’re Pregnant with Baby #2!

We are so excited to be pregnant with our next and probably final child!

We are so excited about welcoming another baby to our family in January 2018. We are considering it the “final leg” of our Speedy Thiede marathon relay team. Yes, we are runner geeks.

Conceiving this time was such a guessing game since I am still breastfeeding our son. It took until he was 16 months old for my cycle to return. I continued to pump at work until about 15 months, and when together, he nursed 4-5 times a day still. So, my body was not ready for another baby.

I kept trying to guess what my body was doing, but because I wasn’t cycling, I had no idea. I spent many months guessing what my body was doing and taking a bunch of negative pregnancy tests. It was really frustrating. Since I wasn’t having a cycle we planned to have sex every few days to try to catch the first ovulation before I would have a period.

Breastfeeding while Trying to Conceive

I was all for Noah nursing until he was ready to wean, and I love the idea of tandem nursing. However, this comes with its own set of complications, especially when trying to have another baby. Until I was able to nurse less or low enough amounts that my prolactin levels decreased to a level that allowed me to ovulate. That took about 7 months from when we were open to having another baby until I had my first post-partum period. Part of this delay occurred because I continued to pump at work for longer than I needed. Emotionally, I wasn’t ready to stop that because of all the nursing issues we had. I had a complex about providing every drop of milk that I could. Once I was able to make peace with the fact that he is incredibly healthy, I was able to let go of pumping, and I WAS SO MUCH HAPPIER to be able to let go!

MyFLO app

Finally, I heard that Alissa Vitti, author of Woman Code, was coming out with a MyFLO app. Typically, I am very frugal and would scoff at the cost of even a $1.99 app. However, I knew this one would be worth it.

In the app, you track your monthly cycle and symptoms. The app starts to recognize where you have issues, what areas of your cycle are long or short based on your symptoms, and the best part is it recommends lifestyle and food choices to help improve your symptoms.

Every month, I had less and less symptoms, and by the time we got pregnant, I had no symptoms. Plus, I have had a way easier first trimester this time, which I will discuss in another blog post.

Want to hear more about some Mama Bear Updates? Watch my video chit chat about life and the business!

8 Nutrients Moms Need if They Plan on Breastfeeding

8 Nutrients Moms Need if They Plan on Breastfeeding

Nutrition in the postpartum period while nursing has its own important considerations. Most importantly, you need to understand that you must take care of yourself if you are going to take care of others. The issues of not doing this may not show up right away, but over time you will end up worn out with wacky hormones and nutrient deficiencies. I’m saying this from personal experience.

When I gave birth to Noah, I wanted to be the mom that “does it all”. I would nurse through the night, wake up with everyone, refused naps, took care of the house during the day, and tried to get back to exercising as soon as possible. While pregnant, I also decided I wanted to run a marathon at 6 months postpartum. This meant getting up early on weekends and running more miles than I think my body wanted to handle at the time. Plus, I had a great deal of stress from the nursing issues Noah and I dealt with. My adrenals were taxed. In my pregnancy, I only gained 20 lbs, and I lost 15 right away. For awhile, I couldn’t figure out why that last 5 was sticking, and I think it was my increasing cortisol from stressing my body so much. Around 1 year postpartum, I started taking a Vitamin C fruit powder (100% Camu Camu), and I felt rushes of energy from the glutathione increase. I knew at that point my body had been under a great deal of stress and hadn’t has the resources or time to recover. Vitamin C supports our adrenal glands that produce cortisol. An excessive amount of cortisol can cause problems with other hormones, especially progesterone. It can cause fatigue, mood issues, low sex drive, PMS, anxiety, focus issues, and weight issues. I found that taking Vitamin Code’s B Complex also really helped. It is important to make sure you are taking a quality B Complex because the sources of certain B vitamins like folate (b9) and methylcobalamine (b12) are very important. Many commercial vitamins contain folic acid and cyanocobalamine, and these forms are not absorbed as well because they need to be converted. For those with MTHFR, like me, we can’t convert them and taking these forms are not only worthless but potentially detrimental because our body thinks vitamins are coming to the receptors, which stops our bodies from absorbing the proper forms in adequate quantities. Some specific B vitamins in relation to adrenals are B5 and B12. The best sources of B5 is liver, avocado, sunflower seeds, and liver and salmon contain B12. I know many people are squeamish when it comes to liver, but you can make burgers or meatloaf using a 1/4 lb of liver with 3/4 lb of beef. In these ratios, it is hidden and you will not taste it.

Iron is another nutrient that you may need extra quantities of. Depending on how much blood you lost during labor or if you had an iron deficiency during pregnancy, you should increase your intake of leafy greens, broccoli, and red meats. The iron from these will be better absorbed if you pair them with Vitamin C foods like fruit, tomatoes, and peppers.

For both your supply and postpartum recovery, iodine is very important. For nursing, iodine supports the mammary glands and production of milk. Having adequate supply in your milk also supports your babies grain growth and thyroid. Many mothers find that they deal with a bout of hypothyroidism postpartum, and iodine can minimize or prevent that issue. Selenium is also a thyroid supporting nutrient. Eating 2-3 brazil nuts should provide you with the selenium you need. Iodine can be found in seaweed snacks or seafood. You can also buy kelp flakes to sprinkle on food like salt.

Fat is also good for both postpartum recovery and supply. After birth, our hormone levels drop significantly, which can lead to postpartum depression in many women. Our breastmilk also contains 3-5% fat with half of that being saturated fat. Your baby needs a ton of fat to grow, especially their brain. Without proper fats in the diet, this can lead to hormone issues and a fatty acid deficiency. These affect mental health and energy levels. So, you should incorporate avocado, grass-fed butter, coconut, nuts and seeds into your diet. You may find at first you need more, especially of saturated animal fats like butter, and then, you may need less as you correct any deficiency. Eating fat will not mean you gain weight. In my case, correcting my fatty acid deficiency helped me lose the last 5 pounds of baby weight because my hormones were working better. Than, when my weight started to creep up again, I knew I needed to lower my fat intake.

So, here is a run down of what you should consider.

  • For Supply:
    • Iodine – seaweed snacks, seafood
    • Healthy Fats – avocado, grass-fed butter, coconut, nuts, seeds
  • For Postpartum:
    • Iron – leafy greens, red meat, broccoli
    • Healthy Fats – avocado, grass-fed butter, coconut, nuts, seeds
    • Selenium – brazil nuts
    • Iodine – seaweed, seafood
    • B Vitamins – supplement, liver (B12 & B5), sunflower seeds (B5), avocado (B5)
    • Vitamin C – Camu Camu, fruit, vegetables

Make sure take care of yourself, and know you are doing a great job! Motherhood is hard work, and you can’t take care of others unless you nourish yourself mind, body, and spirit.

How to Survive Through Pregnancy While Nursing or Having Recently Had Another Baby

How to Survive Through Pregnancy While Nursing or Having Recently Had Another Baby

Congratulations on your positive pregnancy test and having another blessing on the way! Having children close together and the dream of tandem nursing is one I can definitely relate to. However, it is important to recognize that your body has given a great deal of its stores to growing, birthing, nursing, and caring for your baby (AKA sleep deprivation!). So, it is even more critical to take your nutrition seriously so that your next child can get the same amount of quality building blocks as your first.

In Nutrition and Physical Degeneration, Dr. Price notes how subsequent children do not get the same level of nutritional stores, and therefore, they have more narrow faces and less optimal development than the first. You may want to consider getting some blood work done to educate yourself on any important nutritional deficiencies you may have. Some important nutrients to consider are A, D, K2, B12, iodine, and iron.

Here are some key nutrients to focus on in your preconception and pregnancy periods:

Iodine (seaweed snacks, seafood)

Iodine is great for hormonal and thyroid health. It boosts your metabolism. Many people are deficient to begin with and nursing a child can deplete you. Many women find themselves dealing with postpartum thyroid issues, and food based sources of iodine can help. It supports breast tissue and milk production, which you will need again with another baby. I noticed an increase in my supply when I would eat seaweed snacks. Finally, iodine supports a baby’s growing brain, and studies have shown that mothers with adequate stores of iodine have smarter children.

Healthy fats (avocado, salmon, coconut oil, grass-fed butter)

Healthy fats are critical to not only build a healthy baby but for your hormones. Hormones are made from healthy fats, especially saturated animal fats that contain Vitamin A. So, to even get pregnant you need them, and having adequate stores will make for a more pleasant pregnant, meaning less mood swings, more energy, less cravings, and less nausea. In my postpartum period, I realized around 6 months that I had a fatty acid deficiency. I could eat tablespoons of butter on my food, Bulletproof coffee with butter and coconut oil, and half a batch of Bulletproof “Get Some Ice cream” (the BP blog says that it could serve 6-8 people instead of 2). When I did this I lost weight for a time period and felt rushes of energy. During this time period, I almost felt like an animal with how I could ravenously eat fat and craved it. It felt so good in my body. I realized how draining pregnancy and nursing had been on my body and how I needed to correct these deficiencies.

For your baby, they need a lot of fat to grow. The brain is 12% fat, mostly saturated fat. My son ate a ton of grass-fed butter, coconut oil, fatty salmon, liver and salmon eggs, and his head measured in the 95% at his one year appointment.

 

Vitamin C (fruits, veggies, real fruit powder like Camu Camu)

This may seem like a strange one considering we only think of Vitamin C when we are sick, but this is definitely important. Vitamin C supports our adrenals, energy, and progesterone production. Nursing mothers or moms of young children often find that they are not getting enough sleep. This can wreck are hormones by raising cortisol, our stress hormone. Cortisol is a precursor of progesterone. So, if we are sleep deprived or have high perceived stress, our bodies will produce more cortisol instead of progesterone. This could play a huge factor in why many new moms have a luteal phase defect, or too short of a luteal phase. When a woman has a luteal phase defect, the body does not have adequate time to build the lining of the uterus to sustain a pregnancy.

When I started taking Camu Camu powder, I felt a rush of energy like I had when I started eating more fat. I also dealt with a B12 deficiency around 9 months postpartum and felt rushes of energy when I started eating liver. So, I knew I had landed on something else my body desperately needed. I proceeded to take 3 doses (for the Camu Camu a serving is 1 tsp). I mixed it into yogurt for ease of consumption. Because Vitamin C is water soluble, I figured the worst that would happen is that when my body had an adequate supply or I took too much, I would get diarrhea. That first night, I had no stomach issues and felt great. Over the next few weeks, I would take 1-2 doses until one day I had issues after a second dose (I was taking 1 in the morning and 1 at night at the time).  For months prior to this (without having a cycle), I could still track the cycle my body was attempting to have through cervical mucus and PMS symptoms that in some cases were very extreme. I experienced bloating, fatigue, sore breasts, cravings, and nausea like I never had. Then, after taking the vitamin C, I noticed a significant decrease in those symptoms.

High quality prenatal

This can help to correct any other nutrient deficiencies that you may not be aware of. I would recommend Vitamin Code Raw Prenatal or Mega Foods Baby & Me. However, check with your doctor.

How to Succeed with Breastfeeding – Through Weight Gain Issues, Craniosacral Therapy, Exclusively Pumping, and Nutritious Homemade Baby Food

How to Succeed with Breastfeeding – Through Weight Gain Issues, Craniosacral Therapy, Exclusively Pumping, and Nutritious Homemade Baby Food

Before my son was born, I hadn’t researched breastfeeding that much. I was more concerned with getting through the labor and thought I would figure out breastfeeding later since it looked pretty easy. I also thought I would pump almost exclusively since that seemed time saving and help me to put him on a schedule so I could run and continue doing what I wanted to. All that went out the window pretty quickly.

birthday

Right when he was born, the nurse asked me, “Do you want to feed him?” Without even thinking, I said, “Yes” still in the whirlwind of just surviving a quick 3.5 hour natural birth. He nursed for 90 minutes straight, and it was the sweetest sight to see him gently suck while nuzzling me. We took him home 24 hours later, and I was nursing him every few hours. My doula and lactation consultant came over within the next few days, and we noted that turning his neck seemed uncomfortable for him so he would unlatch frequently. So, my LC suggested I take him to a chiropractor since some babies (or all babies) need to be realigned. So, I took him to the chiropractor I had been seeing throughout my pregnancy since they provide a free adjustment for newborns.

After the adjustment, he seemed temporarily more comfortable, but his doctor’s appointments were not going well from the beginning. When we left the hospital, he had gone from a birth weight of 8 lb 2 oz to 7 lb 9 oz, which is within the normal range expected after birth. However, he still weight 7 lb 9 oz at his first appointment a few days after birth. I was immediately interrogated about breastfeeding, told I needed to get him to gain weight, and handed formula. I dismissed the formula, contacted my LC, and continued to breastfeed on demand. I came back at 12 days after birth, and he still had low weight gain. I was devastated. I asked the doctor what I could do, and she said “Nothing. You just need to feed your baby.” I needed to come back within 48 hours and have him back to birth weight. I was scared. So I was breastfeeding, pumping, and giving him some formula. We went back, and he was at his birth weight. We set up our next appointment, and while I was happy he had gained, I wanted a new doctor. We came back for his one month, and he was gaining an average of 0.5 oz a day instead of the 1 oz that is desired. The new doctor again handed me formula or said I needed to pump and feed because “He is just so active he is burning a third of his calories.” Something wasn’t adding up, but I continued for the next several days by nursing, then pumping, and feeding the rest. But why couldn’t I just nurse him? So, I stopped the pumping since I had determined the milk was there if he wanted it. Wasn’t that the only potential issue?

At this point, I was on the search for a new doctor’s office and found one that was very pro-breastfeeding. I wanted a professional that was going to support my decision to breastfeed, while helping me find answers. Over the next several months, he continued to gain slowly, and at 4 months, he lost a few ounces. His growth had also slowed. Every weight check, I had done around this time consisted of my carrying Noah to the scale with a sick feeling in my stomach and my heart pounding. Then, his weight would come up, and I would leave feeling frustrated, confused, and a failure. I was searching everywhere for answers. I had gone to LLL and my LC, and until this point I had been told some babies are just small. Then, I went to LLL again, and one of the leaders suggested looking into a lip/tongue tie. One leader looked at his mouth and swore he had both. So, I scheduled an appointment to have him evaluated with a special dentist ASAP. We drove an hour and a half for that dentist to tell me he had neither. And what is even more frustrating on top of all of this is everyone up to this point including the dentist said he is a great nurser and has an awesome latch (though it is a little shallow). Finally, the dentist suggested I looked into craniosacral therapy, which had just been suggested to me by a doctor friend the day before. I left the office frustrated but knowing that I had looked into every other option so this had to be it. Around this time, I also did several weighed feeds, per the recommendation of the dentist, and realized that my 4 month old was only transferring 2-2.5 oz. My heart sank, and I was furious that no medical professional or LC had suggested this before.

I quickly googled craniosacral therapy, and it made sense. What I was reading indicated that babies who have hard, long, quick, or traumatic births deal with misalignments that prevent them from nursing effectively. Throughout my research over the past several months, it had popped up in my searches, but it seemed similar to chiropractic care so I dismissed it. I immediately called for a referral to the Michigan State University Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine office. I was put on the calendar with an appointment about 8 weeks out and determined until then I would exclusively pump. Thankfully, they called us within a week and said they had an open appointment for the following Monday. God was really watching over us through everything.

I quickly determined exclusively pumping was a form of martyrdom. I was pumping every 2-3 hours pumpround the clock for 20-30 minutes and just barely producing enough for my son (I was feeding him 5 5oz bottles per day). I also went through a period where I would co-sleep and let him comfort feed throughout the night to use that as his practice nursing time so he could improve. Because of this, I heavily dipped into my freezer stash, but I wanted to keep our nursing relationship going. I worried that he would never become an effective nurser if I didn’t let him practice and keep him close. It meant that we used donor milk for a few weeks to a month, but I only needed to use a few ounces a day to make sure he was getting enough. I made sure each of his bottles had some of my milk in it and then would top off the bottles with the donor milk. I looked at the donor milk almost as a foreign substance in a way and that his main source of nutrients and immunity came from my milk.

We started craniosacral therapy when he was about 5 months old, and the doctor told me that it may take a few months for him to nurse completely effectively. I needed to continue pumping, practice nursing, doing weighed feeds, and weight checks. My life became breastfeeding. We initially went to appointments every two weeks for 3 sessions, and then, we had a final one after a month. I did a few weighed feeds after starting the craniosacral and became discouraged that it wasn’t working fast enough. It was also a hassle to go to doctors’ offices or LC offices, so we bought our own baby scale so I could weigh him or do feeds whenever I wanted.

His weight gain was improving by exclusively pumping, averaging 0.75 oz per day, but it still felt stressful and not enough. Our craniosacral doctor kept using the term “borderline failure to thrive”, and it broke my heart. I am a good mom. I was doing everything I could to take care of my son. How was it not enough? How was my kid getting categorized with kids whose parents dump them on the side of the road? Plus, developmentally he continued to be meeting or exceeding his markers.

Thankfully, at 6 months, he started solid baby food, and as a functional nutrition supporter, I had my plan ready to go for nutritious homemade baby food with natural, organic ingredients. Through concepts that I had researched from The Weston A Price Foundation, the paleo community, and Dave Asprey’s The Better Baby Book, I knew I needed to focus on nutrient dense foods like nourishing fats, easily digestible proteins, and vegetables. I planned on avoiding fruits and grains for the first year. I really latched on to a few concepts:

  1. The Weston A Price Foundation discusses the concept of “sacred foods” from ancient, ancestral cultures, which are packed with fat soluble vitamins and healthy fats for brain development. So, I focused on adding egg yolks, salmon/salmon eggs, avocados, MCT (Brain Octane Oil), grass-fed butter, coconut oil, and animal fats like duck/pork.
  2. All vegetables need to be combined with fats for better nutrient absorption and increased calories.
  3. Collagen is a great source of protein and critical for the growth of hair, skin, teeth and nails.

You can read my full description of my food plan for Noah here.

So, here is what typical options looks like for Noah’s meals. The below are purees and first foods. I have many other posts on finger foods and toddler meals that you can check out too.

Breakfast – Half avocado, egg yolk, sprinkle of Himalayan sea salt, sprinkle of seaweed flakes for iodine, cod liver oil

Check out some of my recipes for homemade baby food –caviar

At 7 months, Noah was able to nurse effectively enough that I only had to pump when I was away from him or to store. We both seemed relieved to go back to nursing, and he thoroughly enjoys comfort nursing. I could see this kid going for years! We just had his 9 month appointment, and that was proof that our hard work had paid off. He had gained 4 lb in 2 months, now weighing 18 lb 2 oz and landing in the 20% for weight (which is honestly where Brendon and I are). He also measures 28.75 inches in length (60%) and an 18 inch head (67%). So thrilled! Plus, he has basically skipped crawling and is now trying to couch surf. He loves talking and is such a happy baby!!! For his first birthday, I even made him a nutritious smash cake. You can find the recipe here.

swimming

I’m so happy that we made it through this struggle and didn’t quit. I am a better person and mother because of this experience, and my son is a thriving baby. I now have a passion to help others on their journey through motherhood with nutrition, and with my deeper nutrition knowledge, my family will benefit because I even more see how nutrition can impact our lives through watching Noah’s supercharged development over the past few months.

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Breastfeeding Supplies: How I Was the Exception to Most Breastfeeding Rules and Why Breastfeeding Wasn’t Cheaper than Formula for Me

Breastfeeding Supplies: How I Was the Exception to Most Breastfeeding Rules and Why Breastfeeding Wasn’t Cheaper than Formula for Me

At 4 months of age, we finally discovered the cause of my son’s weight gain issues. We finally determined through weighed feeds that he was having trouble transferring milk and that he needed to undergo craniosacral therapy to treat the bones and tissues so they could work properly. I not only dedicated countless hours researching and taking my son to appointments, but over the last nine months, I have spent a great deal of money to stay dedicated to breastfeeding and improve his health. My story should also act as a warning that before following the “Commandments of Breastfeeding” that are preached by lactation consultants and La Leche League, it is important to first determine that you have an effectively nursing baby.

Some breastfeeding rules intended to enhance your breastfeeding relationship that did not apply to me were:

  • Nursing your baby often will increase your supply
  • Skin to skin will increase your supply
  • A pump will never be as effective as a baby (I only learned later that the key words were EFFECTIVELY NURSING BABY)

Since my son could not transfer enough milk on his own, following these rules initially was detrimental to his health and my supply. However, these were the answers I was given for months. So, I religiously followed them for months and continued to go  to weight checks feeling like a failure as a mother when my son would gain little weight. No matter how often I nursed him or how much skin touched, the fact was my body wasn’t getting the signal for appropriate demand because he couldn’t drink the milk. For this time period, a pump was more effective than him and drinking from a bottle where we could monitor how much he drank allowed him to get more, and he started gaining more weight.

Many women use “cost” as a benefit of breastfeeding, saying it is cheaper than formula. For me, it was not when I factor in the appointments, treatments, and supplies I spent money on to ensure I could provide milk for him and that he could nurse effectively. Here were some of my costs:

  • Nursing tanks and bras ($100)
  • Galactagues/supplements – Mother’s Milk Tea, Moringa, Coconut Water, Mother Love More Milk Plus, lactation cookies ($10/month)pump
  • Pump supplies ($5-10/month)
  • Hospital grade rental pump ($45/month)
  • Baby scale for weight checks and weighed feeds at home ($40)
  • Appointment to check for potential tongue or lip ties ($100)
  • Craniosacral therapy ($500 for about 5 sessions)
  • Chiropractic appointments ($40 – 1 appointment per month since birth)

I certainly didn’t choose breastfeeding because it was the cheaper option or the easier one. I chose it because it was what I wanted for my son and for our relationship. There are dollar amounts and time commitments I can calculate that could be labeled as a waste of time by some, but to me, this journey has been priceless. My journey as a mother has made me a stronger, more open person, and I would not trade the bond I have with my son for anything.

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