Thursday, June 30, 2011

Your Baby or Toddler's Exposure to Toxic Flame Retardants by the Numbers

The young mother carefully positions her newborn on the nursing pillow in her lap. Being sure to latch the new baby on correctly, she begins breastfeeding. She is proud of herself for giving her baby the best food on the planet for human babies. She wants only what is best for this new little one. Unknown to her the pillow she has purchased for this most satisfying of mommy moments is covered with a toxic substance.

Far away in another city a mother lays her squirming 6 month old down to change his diaper. He has become adept at wriggling himself away from her at critical moments during the process. When he reaches out and pulls the corner of the changing pad into his mouth she breathes a sigh of relief hoping this will keep her active boy satisfied until she can finish. It never occurs to her he is ingesting a toxic chemical.

In a third town a busy mother of two is happy her toddler is keeping herself occupied scooting around on the floor while she is busy nursing the new baby and trying to get dinner. The little girl lays down on her tummy putting her face close to the rug on the floor so she can reach under a chair and pull out a forgotten toy. Her mother is completely unaware that her daughter is breathing in toxic dust.

These babies are all being exposed to flame retardants every day and so is yours. Flame retardant chemicals are put onto many products in your home; rugs, couches, drapes. They are also put on many baby products to meet fire safety standards. This was done without testing the consequences of long term exposure on humans. Here is the down and dirty info you need to know.

* 90% of Americans have flame retardants in their bodies

* 3 times higher levels of flame retardants are found in toddlers bodies than adults

* 80% of the baby products tested contained toxic or untested chemical flame retardants

* 3 products tested: car seats, changing pads and portable cribs

* 1/3 of products contained a chemical called chlorinated tris

* 40 years ago they stopped using chlorinated tris on kid's pajamas because of cancer concerns

* 1 more item included in the test: nursing pillows!

*10 times more retardant chemicals found in Americans' bodies than people in the European Union, which has banned the most common types of chemical flame retardants

*2 types of flame retardants have stopped being made due to health concerns

*2013 is the year manufacturers pledge to phase out other flame retardants

*Decades is how long these toxins will remain in most people's homes because they have been used on home furnishings. And Tris, the chemical removed from kids' sleepwear, is still commonly used in furniture foam.

For chemical free baby products visit EcoBambino in downtown SLO. Be sure to ask if the product is flame retardant free!

To read the whole story by Liz Szabo in USA Today.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Pregnancy; the first step into Motherhood

This article was written by a much loved and respected resource in our community, Dr. Zoe Wells. Over the years many of my clients and friends have benefited from Dr. Zoe’s help in healing. She brings a unique blend of education, holding a doctorate in Naturopathic Medicine with a certification in Obstetrics as well as a degree in psychology, and a gentle and caring spirit to her work.

Naturopathic Medicine is a holistic approach to healing encompassing all parts of the person; mind, body & spirit. It combines safe and effective traditional therapies with the most current advances in modern medicine. Some of the modalities Dr. Zoe is skilled at include: Herbs, homeopathy, craniosacral therapy, hydrotherapy and nutritional therapy.

Issues she has helped my clients with have included recurring yeast infections, beta strep positive test results, hormone imbalances, postpartum depression, and more. Not only has she helped them with their physical issues but the women feel so respected and cared for. On her web site Dr. Zoe says “many people have stated that this is the first time they have felt heard and have been able to share their full medical history”. I can believe this. Although pregnant women are in and out of a doctor’s office every month they often feel they are part of an assembly line. But with Dr. Zoe they work together to develop an individualized treatment plan. Dr. Zoe says, “We will always be working towards healing and what that uniquely means for you”.

I was so excited when she said she would write an article about pregnancy for my blog. When I read it I thought, “How perfect! Her thoughts on "Creating a Healthy Pregnancy" are just the right blend of mind, body & spirit.” Enjoy!

Pregnancy; the first step into Motherhood
Pregnancy is such a miraculous time for women. It often affords women a chance to hone skills that will assist them in labor and even more importantly throughout motherhood.

Pregnancy is a time of numerous changes – body changes, emotional changes, hormonal changes - all preparation for the giant step of becoming a mother. One of the lessons that pregnancy can teach women is to go beyond themselves, sometimes for the first time considering the well-being of another before their own personal needs. Women find the strength and dedication to achieve their goals in pregnancy that they could not or would not fulfill before their body was filled with another presence. With the knowledge that a woman is carrying another being, literally bringing another person into form, she is motivated to care for her body as a vehicle for miracles beyond herself.

She has more determination to eat well, not only for herself but even more importantly or so it feels, for this new body forming - for this offspring that she alone is growing and raising and that she will eventually bring out into the world. She may dedicate time to exercising and thinking of her body in a new way – as this miraculous process of birth proceeds, a woman comes to understand that her body is amazing, able to bring life, able to create family and a new richness is seen in her ability, the meaning of her life.

Women can also find it easier than ever before to avoid tobacco, alcohol, marijuana and medications during pregnancy as she sees her role as life giver. The habits of her previous life are softened and take on a different meaning when she sees the body as a vehicle for nurturing a new life. Sometimes these habits are difficult to stop and feel too challenging to manage along with the challenges of pregnancy. This is a great time to consider the meaning of these habits and coping mechanisms in contrast with this new life springing forth inside and what it is asking of the mother. Realizing that one is giving life and nurturing life within her own body, can be that extra motivation to reach beyond the “easy answers”, the habitual responses that do not serve our higher good but keep us from caring for ourselves in ways that serve our health and wellness more deeply.

During pregnancy much time and attention goes towards the event of labor often perceived as an immense obstacle to overcome, but I think it is important to recognize it as just another gateway into becoming a mother, a parent. The decisions one makes around labor and how she handles the stress of pain and an intense situation such as labor is the first of many such decisions that a mother will make as her child grows. Early infancy and childhood ask mothers to make many decisions – how to feed her baby, her philosophy around teaching her child to sleep, how to meet the baby’s and later child’s developmental needs. Parenthood requires both mother and father to constantly assess situations, know themselves, and then implement decisions regarding how best to care for their offspring. Labor is a great first step in dealing with the unexpected if that has not already occurred in pregnancy. Life does provide many opportunities for responding to the unexpected and dealing with change.

Pregnancy Health BasicsThere are choices a woman can make during pregnancy to help herself and nurture her growing baby at the same time. When the body feels like it has its own agenda, it is nice to be able to make choices that support one’s well being and sense of balance.

1. Nutrition is key in pregnancy. I consider nutrition to be #1 in terms of contributing to a healthy pregnancy. For most of pregnancy a woman needs an extra meal per day (not twice her normal meals!) to feed her changing body and the developing baby. During the first trimester when many women feel nauseous, extra whole grain carbohydrates can be beneficial such as brown rice, oatmeal or granola, sweet potatoes and cooked vegetables such as winter squashes. Miso soup also tends to calm the stomach and eggs are an easy and often well tolerated source of protein. As the appetite increases and the stomach calms, an increase in protein rich foods, vegetables and fruit are better tolerated and well needed. During the third trimester when the body feels the weight demands of the larger baby, the high quality fats are important for baby’s brain development such as nuts and seeds, fish, avocado, coconut oil and olive oil. Eating smaller meals are better tolerated with a focus on more protein and vegetables as preparation for labor.

2. Exercise. Exercise is even more important for mom than baby. Body changes during pregnancy are constant and one’s exercise routine should reflect these changes. Early on in pregnancy a woman can feel short of breath and fatigued, a time when less intense exercise is beneficial. Later when the body has adjusted to the hormonal shifts and weight changes, a woman can increase her exercise to pre-pregnancy levels if this is well tolerated. Anemia must always be taken into consideration as there is less oxygen available during anemia and exercise is not as well tolerated or supported. At the end of pregnancy many women enjoy water exercises to have moments of weightlessness where she can stretch her body and enjoy the water supporting her weight. Keeping cardiovascular health up during pregnancy helps with labor both psychologically as well as physically.

3. Avoid alcohol, tobacco, marijuana as well as decrease caffeine and sugar. These will lower incidences of pre-eclampsia, high blood sugar, high blood pressure, yeast infections and decrease the risk of medical intervention during labor, and baby needing medical assistance after labor.

4. Time for quiet and centering. With the birth of a first child life changes in ways previously not fathomed. Pregnancy may be the last time for a while when a woman has time for herself, quiet time, reflective time. I recommend taking time regularly in pregnancy to check in with yourself, see how you feel, journal, meditate, pray, hike, walk… whatever feeds your soul. Life is about to change and the more centered you are, the easier it will be to respond to those changes. You will know yourself better and have a place from which you can make the decisions that will support you and your family.
Best wishes to you in your pregnancy! What an amazing time of life, both for you and your baby – the first of many journeys you will take together.
Visit Dr. Zoe's web site!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Fresh New Pregnancy & Birth Book for Men

Finally a book by a man, for men about pregnancy and birth! As a birth educator and doula for 20 years I have read many wonderful books about birth, but I felt none of them was the kind of book a man would pick up on his own to read. Instead men have been reading the books their pregnant wives would ask them to read; the books that were full of info the women wanted their husband to know. But "Baby Daddy", by Clayton Connelly, is a book full of information men want to know. It is one dad’s humorous look at his personal journey through his woman’s first pregnancy. Connelly’s approachable writing style mixes laugh-out-loud personal experiences with sage advice from a dad who’s been there; sprinkled with just the right amount of facts and important information to open the eyes of a birth novice and get them thinking. "Baby Daddy" is the perfect gift for that friend who just found out the pitter patter of little feet is soon to be entering his life. Trying to find a way to break the news? Why not wrap it up and give it to your man or casually leave it on top of his fine bathroom literature. Although it is meant to be read in stages to go with each trimester, I guarantee once he starts he won’t want to put it down.

Clayton & his wife Jessica took my classes to prepare for the birth of their first child. Read this book to find out what was going on in Clayton's head during my classes.

Hear what the author has to say about the book:

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Comparing Approaches to Pregnancy & Birth

"The techno-medical model of maternity care, unlike the midwifery model, is comparatively new on the world scene, having existed for barely two centuries. This male-derived framework for care is a product of the industrial revolution. As anthropologist Robbie Davis-Floyd has described in detail, underlying the technocratic mode of care of our own time is an assumption that the human body is a machine and that the female body in particular is a machine full of shortcomings and defects. Pregnancy and labor are seen as illnesses, which, in order not to be harmful to mother or baby, must be treated with drugs and medical equipment. Within the techno-medical model of birth, some medical intervention is considered necessary for every birth, and birth is safe only in retrospect." — Ina May Gaskin (Ina May's Guide to Childbirth)

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Breastfeeding Resources

La Leche League International: For the best breastfeeding resources available on the planet.

Local La Leche League: group and individual support and counseling. 

Local La Leche League: face book page with meeting notices and more.
Local Warm Line: staffed by lactation consultants; telephone help, classes and one-on-one support. Call 541-BABY.

The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding is the easiest to read most comprehensive book available. You can borrow it from La Leche League's library section  at the Santa Lucia Birth Center in SLO 

Andrea Herron's  Growing with Baby  private practice lactation consultant with an office in SLO.

Lindsey Law's Lactation LuLu is a private practice lactation consultant who makes home visits.

Lisa Marasco is a lactation consultant in Santa Maria. Call 937-9717.

Each of our local hospitals have lactation consultants on staff. Call the hospital where you birthed for help. Did you birth at home? Call your midwife. Need more help? All mothers regardless of where or with whom they birthed are welcome at French Hospital's Breastfeeding Clinic. Call 541-BABY.

Look for the San Luis Obispo Breastfeeding Coalition's Breastfeeding Resource Guide at your OB or pediatrician's office.

Low Milk Supply Resource: This is a serious and often complicated problem.

Interview with Lisa Marasco, author of The Breastfeeding Mother's Guide to Making More Milk: Breastfeeding  After Previous Low Milk Supply.

Nursing Nooks: As a first time mother you may be a bit shy about breastfeeding in public. This is normal. What you need is a quiet removed spot in the county to nurse while you are out and about. Find one here.

Our Local Baby Friendly Certified Hospital: Where you choose to birth impacts your chances for breastfeeding success.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

A Birth I Almost Had to Miss

You never know what life is going to through your way. As a doula I know to plan ahead but plan to be flexible. A few years ago I was planning to be at Meredith and Derek's second birth. Everything was going smoothly forward with her pregnancy when we hit our first major road bump. As happens unfortunately way to often, Meredith went to a prenatal and came home with her confidence completely shook. We spent a long time talking it over on the phone. The problem appeared to be me. Her provider had indicated not being comfortable working with me. I gave her some ideas on how to dialogue with her care provider the next time she went. So she tried but felt she had hit a communication wall of bad feelings. So I asked her if it would be okay for me to meet with her provider. After sitting down and clearing the air around intentions we were all able to move forward again as a team.

Second bigger bump; shingles! As her due date approached I became extremely ill with a shingles outbreak. It took a long time and several emergency room visits for them to diagnose me. Then the treatment began. Neither Meredith or I was comfortable having me come to a birth with open shingles sores. I called up my back up doula and filled her in and told Meredith to wait for me while I threw myself into getting well ASAP. Two days before she went into labor the last of my sores healed over. 

Here is the sweet hand made card she sent me after the birth.

I can't thank you enough for all you have taught us! You gave me so much knowledge and strength. You made me realize I had an opinion and a voice and that gave me so much confidence!

Even though we had our ups and downs with your health and H., I am so blessed and couldn't be happier with how everything turned out! I don't know if that was your easiest birth but it sure was mine!! Than k you, thank you, thank you!!!

Meredith & Derek
& Silas & Brynlee Soliel


Throughout the ages mamas have been
"There is no finer investment for any community than putting milk into babies." 
Winston Churchill

As a La Leche League leader I encourage women to breastfeed for as long as it is mutually satisfying for them and their babies. Breastfeeding is natural but not always easy. As a matter of fact for many women it is down right difficult at times. Whether you have a premature baby, physical issues, thrush, a low or over abundant milk supply, had a breast reduction, a baby with food sensitivities, returned to work, or simply have a new born at home; breastfeeding is often challenging but oh so rewarding!

Remember breastfeeding help is close at hand.

You can always email me or if you need to hear a warm supportive voice call me at 473-3746. As a League leader I have experience counseling moms with breastfeeding issues. Unfortunately as a doula I am sometimes unavailable. If you can't reach me.

Need to connect with  a lactation consultant?

Deciding about Breastfeeding or Formula Feeding? Important things to think about when choosing.

Protecting the Critical Bonding Period Immediately after Birth. 
Why? Because it affects your chances of breastfeeding success.
Amazing Breast Crawl Video: See what an unmedicated, undisturbed baby can spontaneously do! 
Babies First Bath: rethinking this tradition in light of new research.

What My Husband Didn't Do: How your partner impacts your breastfeeding success.

Breastfeeding and Working: I did it and you can too!

La Leche League's Roots: My inspiration.

Dealing with Common Challenges: Listen in as I discuss breastfeeding issues with another La Leche League leader on the radio.

Mothers around the world do it.
You can too!
Parenting Support: As a new parent you may feel at a loss about many possible decisions beyond the initial decision to breastfeed; such as, cloth vs. disposables, choosing a health professional for your baby, where should your baby sleep, schedules and more. My "Whole"istic Mamas Support Group is here for you!

Lactivism: photo essay

Breastfeeding Resources: in our community, on-line, by phone, in a book.