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Baby cereal was first introduced in the 1930s, which was when a monumental shift occurred away from real foods towards processed convenience foods. Previously known as pablum, mothers were advised to mix it into a bottle with breast milk for babies as young as six weeks old. Then when baby was around 3 or 4 months old, the pablum was mixed into a thicker consistency to be spoon-fed.

It was marketed as an ideal first food for your baby.

Iron-fortified grain cereal is still a leading recommendation for starting solids… even by most pediatricians, and even with today’s clarity about the importance of whole foods vs refined. Sadly, processed grain products aren’t the healthiest choice for anyone, let alone as a first food to properly nourish a developing baby.

Stripped of its nutrients

Baby cereal is stripped of its nutrients and fiber and it’s highly glycemic, which causes drastic blood sugar spikes followed by inevitable fussiness and hunger. Many parents often start solids prematurely with the hopes of keeping babies “fuller for longer”, but a high glycemic food like baby cereal doesn’t contain the fat or protein necessary to satisfy a baby for very long at all. Baby cereal is also very bland tasting, which doesn’t set the stage for adventurous eating.

Even if it wasn’t refined, rice is sorely lacking all the top essential nutrients a baby really needs when starting solids, such as healthy fat, calcium, vitamin D, choline & naturally occurring iron. Baby cereal is fortified with synthetic nutrients, but our focus should undoubtedly be to ensure that our babies are eating naturally nutrient-dense foods instead of foods like baby cereal that are fortified with synthetic nutrients. Let’s skip the processed foods to help set our babies up for a lifelong relationship with healthy, whole foods.

High levels of arsenic in rice cereal

Arsenic is present in soil, so all plants can absorb some of it. Although, rice is known to be high in arsenic because it’s grown in flooded paddies and soaks up more arsenic than other food crops. As a well-recognized carcinogen, arsenic is currently regulated in drinking water. However, there are currently no regulations concerning arsenic concentrations in food, including infant rice cereal.

While other foods account for 19% of arsenic exposure in babies 4 - 24 months, rice cereal accounts for 55%.

Several studies have found that arsenic exposure in rice cereal exceeds the US Environmental Protection Agency maximum contaminant levels and markedly increase arsenic exposure among babies. Studies show that the toxic effects of rice are most concerning in infants.

What about whole grains for babies?

Some people argue that a baby doesn’t produce enough amylase to properly digest grains. But I actually recommend being cautious with grains for an entirely different reason. Grains can be difficult to digest, even for many adults with mature digestive systems. Grains have substances called phytic acid that inhibit the absorption of minerals like iron and calcium.

When we look to ancient cultures for wisdom, babies have been fed rice or other grains as a first food in many countries around the world. They also weren’t using arsenic-containing pesticides that significantly increased the arsenic levels present in their rice. However, it’s important to note that these whole grains used by these cultures were carefully prepared using traditional methods. If you choose to include grains as a part of your family’s diet, I suggest properly preparing them by soaking, sprouting, or fermenting/souring to increase nutrient absorption and digestibility.

I also prefer waiting until baby is reliably consuming 3 meals per day with ample amounts of food at each meal. Like baby cereal, other grains don’t contain the essential nutrients discussed above that a baby requires in high doses during this age. Babies also tend to prefer ‘filling up’ on grains if given the choice. This leaves less room in their tiny tummies for the other foods that are much higher in the nutrients they need. Lastly, grains are pretty bland, and time and time again I see that if baby was introduced to these foods in larger amounts at an early age, it’s much harder to diversify their palate later on.

Early exposure and variety are key!

x Carley


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Eczema is known as an atopic dermatitis and it’s recognized by a patchy rash that’s red, dry, and often itchy. The typical approach to treating eczema is with topical creams. However, the rash itself isn’t the real problem that needs to be addressed. Eczema is actually an external symptom of an internal dysfunction. The only way to fully heal your child’s symptoms is to address the underlying internal root cause of the issue.

This means the only effective way to treat eczema is from the inside out.


A 2-pronged approach

The proper approach to healing eczema needs to address 2 key components.

External: The skin’s microbiome (the community of bacteria and other microbes living on the skin) plays a key role in the manifestation of eczema. Topical products are often the first thing a parent reaches for and while they can help calm the ‘symptoms’, they don’t cure the underlying cause.

Internal: Topical treatments are really only effective once internal healing has begun.

1. First, let’s cover topical creams

The widely varying recommendations for topical eczema creams can feel overwhelming. When looking for a topical cream, try not to make yourself crazy with the selection.

No other topical product I’ve seen provides more effective relief than pure pharmaceutical-grade lanolin. Lanolin is the top recommendation for breastfeeding mothers with dry, cracked nipples and I can’t recommend this product enough for eczema. It offers a protective barrier and locks moisture into the skin. Every client I’ve recommended it to has called it a miracle cream. While nothing you use externally will be a cure, lanolin can offer wonderful topical support that helps minimize discomfort while you work on healing your child’s eczema internally.

Just a warning, it’s very thick, tacky and waxy. Don’t let the texture dissuade you from using it liberally. I recommended a thick application in the morning, before bed, and after bathing or swimming.

Brand I recommend: Lanolin

Other products that help the skin retain moisture
  • Shea butter

  • Cocoa butter

  • Coconut oil

  • Jojoba oil

  • Manuka honey

All of these are great options with their own benefits. Some people find they work well alone, but many people usually benefit from some combination.

These are also fantastic for applying directly after bathing or swimming to restore moisture in the skin. Bathing often exaggerates eczema because it removes the natural protective oils from the skin. I also suggest putting lanolin cream on eczema patches before swimming in chlorinated water to protect it from being exposed to the chemicals, which further dries out the skin.

Our own incredibly successful combo

My son developed food sensitivities that resulted in eczema and we were able to completely heal his patches in just two months by addressing both the internal and external.

We had incredible success with 1 drop of lavender oil mixed with 1 tsp of organic coconut oil applied after a bath. Wait for the oil to soak in a little (5-10 minutes), then apply the pharmaceutical-grade lanolin to ‘seal’ moisture into the skin.

Brand I recommend: doTERRA Lavender & organic coconut oil


Topical creams to avoid

When treating eczema, the skin’s microbiome needs to be supported and nourished. However, one of the biggest concerns with most topical creams is that the preservatives they contain kill beneficial bacteria, even in those creams sold specifically to treat eczema.

Petroleum jelly, Vaseline, Aquaphor (also known as mineral oil, or paraffin)
  • It’s a byproduct of oil refining that contains compounds that are harmful to your child’s health. Even more concerning, it can cause collagen to breakdown, the opposite of what anyone with eczema is trying to achieve.

Steroid cream, hydrocortisone cream
  • These creams include chemicals that carry side effects with their use. They’re also petroleum-based. They often help clear the eczema but don’t heal the root cause. Use sparingly and only when absolutely necessary.

Finding safe skin care
  • The Environmental Working Group’s site Skin Deep is a great resource when deciding about the toxicity of your children’s (and your) skin care and body products.


2. How to heal internally

The truth is, while many different topical products will probably help you reduce the external symptoms. Nothing will help your child’s eczema more than healing holistically from the inside out.

My new guide Feeding The Sensitive Child provides the exact protocol that I’ve been using with my clients for years (and even my own son!).

This guide shows you how to heal eczema by:

1. Rebalancing: build & diversify the microbiome
2. Repairing: strengthen the integrity of the intestinal barrier
3. Removing: identify food sensitivities & reduce triggers 
4. Restoring: optimize nutrient absorption

The results are always nothing less than awe inspiring. Now you can use these effective strategies to provide your little one with the much needed relief they need. 

LEARN MORE

Carley
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Puree pouches are super convenient, they contain fruits & vegetables, and most importantly kids love them, but are they really a healthy option for your baby? They may seem just as wholesome as homemade, but unfortunately that’s not the case… even with ‘organic’ on the label.

How they’re made

The first step in making store-bought puree happens at a mass producer where fruits and vegetables are boiled down using ultra-high heat processing to create a shelf-stable pulp. This pulp is then shipped to various baby food manufacturers who combine them in their own way, and then boil them again with a second round of ultra-high heat processing.

Fruits and vegetables contain water-soluble vitamins and enzymes that are sensitive to heat. So while the high temperature ensures that it remains shelf-stable by killing all of the “bad stuff”, sadly it also destroys most of the nutritional value. The result is a syrup that’s high in sugar, low in nutrients, and no longer resembles an actual fruit or vegetable. Store-bought puree also doesn’t contain the fiber, fat or protein necessary to help slow the blood sugar spike that these little pouches inevitably cause. Unfortunately, what goes up must come down and when blood sugar eventually drops after the sugar-rush, meltdowns and tantrums are more likely to ensue.

A baby’s first food experiences build their preferences for the future. Children who eat sweet processed baby food have an increased chance of developing a lifelong preference for sweet processed food. Even pouches boasting flavors that normally aren’t considered sweet, like kale & quinoa, are primarily filled with an overpowering and addictively sweet fruit reduction.

A warning masked as a comfort

Even though strawberries are a common food for babies to react to (often with a rash), they’re still commonly added to store-bought purees. However, the manufacturers of baby food ‘reassure’ parents not to worry, saying they use such high temperatures to process their pureed strawberries that it ‘destroys’ the protein responsible for the allergic response. As if to brag, they go on to say that temperatures used to cook strawberries at home could not reach a high enough heat to effectively destroy these same proteins.

Am I the only one that sees this as a terrible red flag?

What about homemade puree in reusable pouches?

While the ingredients inside will be much more nutritious, there are still several reasons to limit your little one’s use of pouches.

Puree pouches don’t prepare your baby for variation in color, texture & flavor.

Children who consume pureed foods for a longer period of time have been shown to be increasingly resistant to different textures and flavors later (read = picky).

While squash & pea may taste different than banana & apple, all store-bought purees are made to taste sweet, and therefore lack the diversity to truly cultivate a well-rounded, adventurous palate.

I often hear parents say that their baby or toddler prefers pouches over other foods. To me that’s a very clear indicator that the reliance on puree pouches is having a negative impact on them. Continuing to offer these pouches may feel easier in the short term, but if that’s all picky eaters want to eat, I can firmly guarantee that giving them more pouches will only breed more pickiness.

Puree pouches don’t allow baby to interact with food.

Seeing, touching and smelling food are all critical components necessary for feeling satiated, and the lack of these key factors while eating could significantly disrupt the body’s internal cues of fullness.

Interacting with food is also important for babies learning how to self-regulate appropriate portions, rather than mindlessly slurping back a pouch until it’s finished.

Puree pouches don’t teach baby about real food.

Real, fresh foods allow babies to begin developing an appreciation for what individual foods taste like. Then even if they go through that age appropriate picky phase during toddlerhood, those who started with a solid foundation will likely return to being an adventurous eater much more quickly, rather than letting pickiness carry well into their school-aged years.

I know that parents love their convenience, but the reality is that puree pouches certainly aren’t the nutritious meal that they’re marketed to be. When I’m on the go with my babies and I don’t have time to make a proper meal, we’ll bring easy travel foods like an avocado, no-salt added canned salmon, nut butter, or freeze-dried fruit.

Are puree pouches the most horrible thing you can give to your child? Certainly not, but our culture’s current reliance on pouches is most definitely doing our children a disservice.

x Carley   Baby Knows Best

Is your little one starting solids? Baby Knows Best is your guide to first foods. It will ensure that your baby establishes healthy eating habits right from the beginning and will allow for this potentially overwhelming step to be much more enjoyable.

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We’re all born with the innate wisdom of how to best nourish ourselves. (Just observe a baby who is breastfed on demand!) Although, most adults have become extremely disconnected from their body’s signals and are no longer in tune with when, what, and how much to eat.

This disconnect can begin happening from a young age. When starting solids with babies, one of the most important things I promote is to honor the intuitive ability that babies have to self-regulate their intake.

However, we’re conditioned to convince our babies to “finish the whole jar” of purée. Or we get our toddler to “take one more bite”, or tell them “no dessert until they finish their dinner”.

With these external forces dictating a child's consumption, it overrides their ability to listen to their body’s own needs and teaches them to ignore their own cues of hunger & satiation.

Combine this with the constant barrage of conflicting dietary advice and it's easy to see why most adults have completely lost touch with how to best nourish themselves.

The word “diet” has become synonymous with weight loss and restriction, but diet is actually just the total sum of food consumed. In other words, it’s what you eat! Unfortunately when we begin trying to figure out what our diet ‘should’ consist of, we’re often left with more questions than answers.

It’s all about tuning in and eating intutivley, but how do we do that?

Mindful EatingNo one-size-fits-all

Just like the seasons, our bodies go through cycles. So as you change over time, your nutritional needs will change as well. This is all part of an ever-evolving journey of finding balance.

It’s also why there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to eating. Getting into the habit of eating mindfully will help you honestly assess if what you’re consuming is fueling your body in the best way possible.

Habitual eating

Are you a habitual eater? Don't worry, this is a natural human instinct that is even exhibited by very young babies! But it's beneficial to get into the practice of eating mindfully and becoming aware of your patterns. Do you eat when you’re hungry, or do you eat when you’re bored, sad, watching a movie, driving, doing a certain activity? If you know your patterns you can be prepared by having healthy options within reach during those times.

Try tuning into how you feel

There’s no need to do this obsessively, but it’s a beneficial practice to check in with yourself every so often. If done routinely enough, it will eventually become second nature.

1) Before you eat: How hungry are you? What are you craving? Are you feeling bored or emotional?

2) Halfway through your meal: How full are you? Is the food satisfying? Are you feeling present or mindlessly munching? Are you paying attention to the flavors, textures & colors of your meal?

3) 1-3 hours after your meal: How is your digestion (bloating/gas)? How are your energy levels and mood? Are you still feeling satisfied?

DOWNLOAD YOUR FREE CHEATSHEETMindful Eating Made Easy Email * Thank you!  Factors to ConsiderTracking numbers (macros or calories)

When you start listening to the numbers you’re more likely to stop listening to your body. People often become less able to tune into their body’s internal cues when they become dedicated to tracking and letting numbers dictate their diet.

What to do instead? Find a balance that works for you.

Taking some simple measures to balance your meals helps you maintain balanced blood sugar, which can be nothing short of life-changing for some people. I firmly believe that the majority of the population suffer from unbalanced blood sugar on a daily basis, all without knowing that they possess the ability to feel much more vibrant, energetic, and focused.

Symptoms to consider

There are many symptoms that accompany blood sugar irregularities.

You should be especially mindful of maintaining balanced blood sugar if you experience:

  • dramatic shifts in energy (ups & downs)

  • afternoon slumps

  • mood swings

  • sugar cravings

  • trouble focusing / unclear thinking

  • light headedness

  • strong reliance on coffee

Especially if you have:

  • hypoglycemia

  • frequent yeast infections

  • diabetes (type 1, 2 or gestational)

  • PCOS

 Balance Mood & Energy by Balancing Meals

My new guide, Oh Baby Essentials, is designed to help you simplify balancing your meals. It’s broken up by macronutrients (carbohydrates, proteins, and fats) to help you mindfully discover which ratio work best to help you meet your needs and reach your goals.

Why You Don’t Need Willpower

Don’t be afraid of actually eating! Especially if you eat real foods, whole foods, balance your meals, enjoy what you eat, and listen to your body by obeying your hunger signals and stopping when you’re satiated.

Unfortunately for most, going ‘on a diet’ involves some level of deprivation. Whether this is under eating (not getting enough calories/nutrients) or the mental deprivation of restricting.

Yes, we all know that sugar can detract from our health, but simply cutting sugar (or restricting and avoiding anything in your diet) can leave you feeling very deprived. Plus it can take the pleasure out of eating!

Changing habits is hard, and changing mindset can be even more challenging. If we want to have a healthy relationship with food, we need to rethink our conditioning around food. Food is fuel and necessary nourishment for our bodies. It’s not about less, but rather more. More nourishing, more balance, more mindfulness.

Instead of a long list of foods to avoid, Oh Baby Essentials offers a unique approach that emphasizes healthy alternatives & nutritious swaps. This enables you to make informed choices that will leave you feeling empowered and satisfied, instead of deprived.

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Many women are often surprised to learn that after having a baby, you can become pregnant again without actually menstruating first. This is because about 60% of women will ovulate before their first period postpartum. However, only about half of these women will have a long enough luteal phase to sustain a pregnancy after this first ovulation. The other 40% will have some sort of bleeding to indicate their first postpartum ovulation is approaching. Due to the wide variations of returning fertility, it can be very difficult to detect when ovulation occurs for the first time after giving birth.

So, what are your chances of conceiving? 

Lactational amenorrhea is the suppression of a menstrual cycle due to the breastfeeding hormone, prolactin. While there are exceptions, exclusively breastfeeding on-demand both day & night, without using of bottles, pumping, or pacifiers usually suppresses fertility until baby starts solids. When these criteria are met, your chances of conceiving before first foods are introduced is about 2%, which is lower than the risk of a fertile woman conceiving using either hormonal birth control pill (8%) or male condoms (15%).

Certain practices have shown to extend lactational amenorrhea, including:

  • frequent nursing

  • lying down when breastfeeding

  • providing baby access to comfort nursing

  • co-sleeping at night

  • napping with baby

  • skin-to-skin

  • babywearing

  • keeping baby close

Fertility Awareness Method Postpartum

Before having kids myself, I practiced the Fertility Awareness Method (FAM). It proved so reliable for me that it was the only method of ‘birth control’ (pregnancy avoidance) my husband and I used. With FAM I was able to closely monitor my fertility signs to both avoid pregnancy and then successfully conceive after we decided to begin trying.

The 3 main fertility signs to monitor are cervical mucus, basal body temperature, and cervical position. However, these can prove much more challenging to observe prior to your cycle returning after having a baby. Before your first period postpartum your hormones still "cycle" and fluctuate as they gear up for ovulation. Eventually they finally surge and drop enough for ovulation, then menstruation to occur. These fluctuations can cause seemingly fertile cervical mucus for several months without actually being fertile yet. Temperature reading are done first thing when you wake up in the morning. Although they're no longer accurate if you experience sleep disturbances, which is usually the reality for most mothers with young children. As for cervical positioning, it can feel different after having a baby and may be difficult to monitor until your cycle returns and you can familiarize yourself with your ‘new normal’.

 An Interview with Ashley Chea

Ashley Chea and I first met at an Ergobaby event in 2017. We each had our daughters with us and they were both 6 months old, born just days apart from each other. When I saw her at the same Ergo event this year, she shared that she was pregnant again with her third baby and that she conceived before the return of her first period postpartum. She was also exclusively breastfeeding her 9 month old at the time and wasn't using bottles or pacifiers. She also slept with her baby and regularly wore her in a carrier as well.

How did you realize you were pregnant and how far along were you when you found out?

I didn't realize until I was about 4 months pregnant. I thought I was dying because I kept having migraines and feeling really sick. I went to the doctor to get an MRI and he said I was pregnant, not dying of a brain tumor like I thought. (I kept having headaches and getting dizzy, which is why I asked for the MRI.)

How old was your youngest when you became pregnant? Were you breastfeeding at that point?

My youngest was 1 year old when I found out I was pregnant, 13 months to be exact. I was still breastfeeding her and had no cycle, so it was a complete surprise. 



Before your pregnancy was confirmed, did you have a suspicion?

Complete surprise for me because we weren't using contraceptives but we weren't trying to make a baby. I assumed that I was safe from getting pregnant because I was breastfeeding and had no cycle. That clearly isn't accurate. 


Does this pregnancy feel quite different than your previous pregnancies?

It has been completely different from my other two pregnancies. I was sick morning and night until about 5 months. I started having severe pelvic pains early on and haven't been able to work out/exercise much at all. This has been my laziest pregnancy. I normally work out 5 times a week while pregnant up until the day I give birth. This time I have had to take it really slow and can barely go on walks without severe pelvic pain and pressure. It has been a very humbling experience for sure. 


Prior to your own experience did you know that it was possible to become pregnant before your first period returned postpartum?

I knew that it was a small possibility but researched and it seemed rare. Especially if you aren't attempting to get pregnant (meaning avoiding that part of intercourse). The pull out method is obviously not a guarantee but I really thought it would work. We used the same method and our first two are seven years apart. So I was extremely surprised when I found out I was pregnant with my third. 

{Note from Carley: Full transparency, this is the method my husband and I use too. I'm currently 20 months postpartum without the return of my cycle and I peed on a pregnancy test immediately after reading Ashley's story. As in, packed the kids into their car seats and drove directly to the store. (It was negative.)}

Thank you so much for sharing Ashley! You can find Ashley on Instagram at @watermeloneggrolls and her blog.  
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Before going through the transition herself, I don’t think a woman can ever fully prepare for how transformative the journey from maiden to mother truly is. Almost every aspect of your life changes as you adapt to the requirements of your new role, but prior to having kids most women rarely consider how becoming a mother will redefine their sexuality. Probably because the concept is not often talked about openly. When it comes to sex in motherhood, the only thing that’s really discussed is “when intercourse can resume after birth”. But a mother’s sexuality is much more multifaceted than this and a larger conversation needs to be had.

There’s a multitude of factors that may be causing new mothers to feel disconnected from their sexuality, such as shifting hormones, lack of sleep, anxiety, traumatic or disempowering birth experiences, or feeling unfamiliar with their new postpartum body. Not to mention the overarching cultural stigmatization of a woman’s sexuality once she becomes a mother. Sex creates babies but once the duty of procreation is complete, women are basically expected to dismiss this integral essence of their former selves.

Dr. Marlene Ehrler is a Naturopathic Doctor and founder of Motherhood Medicine. She is actively dismantling the oppressive narratives that motherhood and sexuality should remain mutual exclusive. Her incredible work supports mothers in connecting with their sensuality as a vital piece of their health and wholeness.

The changes in a woman’s sexuality and sensuality after becoming a mother aren’t usually talked about. How can creating a dialogue around this assist in better navigating this transition?

I usually start by asking: What does it mean to you to be a mother? Many times the answer is relatively monotone: a caretaker, a homemaker, a woman whose life revolves around her children. Why are our ideas of mothers so singular and passive? You have to have sex to become a mother, so why aren’t mother’s allowed to be seen as sexual beings?

This examination of why we think the way we do is the most foundational place to start. This inner journey often sparks numerous questions and facilitates meaningful dialogue, not only within ourselves, but with other women in our community. Sharing our story normalizes our experience not only for ourselves, but for all mothers.

Our culture doesn’t celebrate the multifaceted identities of mothers. How does our conditioning impact our deep seeded notions of sexuality in motherhood?

When you take this unlocked sensual energy that can occur in pregnancy and motherhood and hold it against the light of society’s traditional expectations of a mother, the contrast can be shattering. Then add in the societal constructs of relationship expectations, and the level of judgment becomes exhausting.

Think of a single mother who had her baby “out of wedlock”. What is your immediate impression of her sensuality? Maybe “risky”? Think of a mother who has been married for 4 years, and just had her baby. What is your immediate impression of her sensuality? Maybe “prude”? What if I then told you the single mother was a Nasa space engineer, and the married woman is on unemployment. Did your impressions then change? Why?

Because of our conditioning.

We view the world through conditioned lenses that have been a huge collaboration by our parents, our community, society, media, relationships, organized religion, school, and our lived experience. Sex, sexuality, and sensuality mean something different for everyone, and depending on a woman’s “circumstances” we make judgments of their sexual expression. For whatever reason, the sexuality of mothers is especially taboo and seems to be public domain for judgment.

New mothers are often concerned about their low libidos. Is there anything you can you share to help normalize this topic and support women who are going through this.

On a day to day basis, women have 10 times the amount of Oxytocin (the love hormone) than men. After we give birth, and for months (and even years) after, we are swimming in a pool of Oxytocin. We get Oxytocin surges from breastfeeding, from hearing our baby cry, from kissing or smelling our children, or even just looking at them. For men, their levels of Oxytocin only come close to ours at the time of orgasm. After baby, men are still seeking intimacy and connection because this is the only time they experience hormonal equilibrium. However, on a biological level, we as mothers are hormonally satisfied postpartum.

Enter the mama who is probably a bit uncomfortable adjusting to her new body, is swimming in a pool of oxytocin, but is also probably very stressed. Stress hormones stamp out any remaining artifacts of a libido. This is the perfect formula for drastically decreasing our desire for sex. Then add an equally as stressed partner who instead of swimming in an oxytocin pool, is drowning in testosterone (the aggress and protect hormone). Every time baby cries, dad gets a surge in Testosterone (instead of Oxytocin), which makes sense biologically because they need to be able to protect the nest from threats and invaders. Put each of these parents in a bedroom on date night, and mom is going to be surging with oxytocin and stress hormones thinking about baby, and dad is going to be still trying to come up for air in the ocean of testosterone. It’s a recipe for disaster, and it’ss one of the greatest examples of nature’s sense of humor.

But rest assured, this is actually an intelligent design by nature: the high levels of circulating oxytocin in mom and testosterone in dad keep our focus on nurturing our children and ensuring their survival. Additionally, dismal libidos help prevent getting pregnant again too quickly, which would compromise the vitality and survival of our next generation of species! Bravo nature!

Having sex and feeling sensual can mean very different things. It's not uncommon for women with young kids to have sex with their partners out of guilt or as an attempt to regain their sensuality. But seeking your sensuality in a partner can prove futile if you haven’t been able to access it from within. What practices can a woman take to connect to and celebrate her sensuality?

My first and most important recommendation is to ask yourself: What brings you pleasure? Whatever it is, do more of it. Make the time. Share your answers with your partner with zero expectation. But until we are fully able to answer that question, where do we begin?

The first thing I see in my practice is the mind not being connected to the body. On a foundational level, this is huge. We must do things that connect us to our body to open the portals for sensuality—and a lot of times this is best accomplished with gentle practices that are done solo.

Herbal body oiling is a tried and true practice that allows us to drop into our bodies and remind ourselves that our skin loves to be loved. I designed the Secrets Women Share Sensual Herbal Body Oil specifically for women who are looking to redefine their sensuality and sexuality. I oil my body every day (most herbalists and wild women I know do too) for the main reason that it is the quickest and easiest way to ignite vitality and creativity both in and out of the bedroom. The targeted botanicals in this formula support energy, reproductive wellness, feelings of safety and calm, promote healthy circulation and acts as a gentle aphrodisiac. Used solo or with a partner, this oil allows us to connect and celebrate our inner flame.

It’s easy for mothers to feel ‘touched out’ after holding and caring for a baby all day. How can anointing or massaging yourself help you reclaim your body and sense of self?

As mothers, we are flooded with nearly constant sensory stimuli (mental, emotional, and physical) and this shoves us into a sympathetic (flight or flight) state—creating the feeling of being “touched out.” Taking time to nourish the nervous system and gently guide it towards the parasympathetic state is a necessity, and I have found that the easiest and most effective way for mothers to do this is through herbal body oiling, and there is science to support it. Oiling the body not only brings immediate relaxation to the nervous system, but also helps sustain that state of relaxation over time with continued practice. The medicinal properties of the herbs in the Eyes Of The World Herbal Body Oil are targeted to help alleviate the effects of stress and tension, all my while protecting our energy and promoting a calm, relaxed state of mind. An additional perk of body oiling is that it can be done in the comfort of our own home at any time, which is crucial for mothers. I often recommend this practice after you have put your children to bed, or when you first wake up in the morning. However, if you pause and retreat to give yourself a quick tune-up in the afternoon, I promise when your kiddo is banging on the bathroom door 30 seconds later, you’ll open it a little more easy going than before!



Thank you so much Marlene!

I'd love to hear your comments below. Are you struggling with a low libido? Do you actively participate in self-care rituals that support your sensuality? Let's share our experiences and help to normalize this important topic.

 
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The female reproductive system has an unparalleled capacity to resolve inflammation. Just think about the extensive regeneration that occurs throughout the menstrual cycle. This bodily system possesses a remarkable ability to clear tissue debris and quickly re-establish normal function.  

Normal acute inflammation is actually a required component for cellular repair during ovulation, menstruation, implantation, and birth. However excess inflammation is known to be the root cause of a variety of imbalances in the body. You may have never considered it but many women are affected by excess inflammation without even knowing, and it can have a serious impact on your fertility. Several reproductive disorders are accompanied by chronic inflammation, which can significantly reduce your ability to conceive and maintain a healthy pregnancy.

Reproductive conditions associated with chronic inflammation include:
  • endometriosis

  • polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)

  • pelvic inflammatory disease

  • uterine fibroids and ovarian cysts

  • adenomyosis and asherman’s syndrome

  • early menopause (premature ovarian failure)

  • poor sperm and egg quality

Taking measures to reduce excess inflammation could be a crucial component of increasing your fertility. In 1870, Rodulph Virchow, a German physician known as "the father of modern pathology, stated that inflammation is associated with ‘functio laes’a' or loss of function. Along with increased difficulty conceiving, inflammatory reproductive conditions can cause complications with menstruation such as painful periods (dysmenorrhea), excessively heavy periods (menorrhagia), or bleeding between periods (menometrorrhagia).

Even when not accompanied by a reproductive disorder, chronic inflammation can disrupt ovulation, the proper balance of hormones in your body, and endometrial receptivity (otherwise known as implantation). From my post Pineapple For Conception & Brazil Nuts For Implantation.

“A healthy egg, healthy sperm and balanced hormones are all necessary for a successful pregnancy, but equally important is the condition and “receptivity” of the uterus. Recognized as the seed/soil relationship, a fertilized egg must embed itself into the wall of the uterus for implantation, but chronic uterine inflammation is a known cause of implantation failure and early loss.”

 How To Increase Fertility by reducing InflammationConsume Anti-inflammatory Foods

Include colorful veggies, dark leafy greens, blueberries, pineapple, celery, beets, cruciferous vegetables, wild salmon and oily fish, coconut oil, fermented vegetables and probiotic foods.

Add Turmeric & Ginger

Turmeric and ginger are exceptional at supporting anti-inflammatory pathways in the body. Turmeric contains an active compound called curcumin, which has been shown to inhibit pro-inflammatory enzymes. Ginger contains anti-inflammatory active compounds such as shogaol, paradol and zingerone. As well as being a well-known digestive aid, ginger possesses the ability to ease menstrual pain, reducing both the duration and intensity of pain. Add these freshly grated roots to your meals, soups, smoothies, or steep them to make an anti-inflammatory tea.

Botanica Fermented Turmeric Ginger is a powerful aid for managing inflammation. It’s fermented using beneficial bacteria, which increases the bioavailability of turmeric and ginger's medicinal properties. Additionally, the fermentation creates new probiotics, enzymes, B vitamins, and micronutrients. Botanica Fermented Turmeric Ginger is also immune boosting and supports healthy digestion. I love all things fermented but the incredible flavor of this effervescent tonic has got to be one of my absolute favorites. 



Reduce Top 5 Inflammatory Foods

This recommendation should probably have a whole blog post on its own, but for now I'll just say that a large portion of many people's everyday diet is made up of the items on this list. However, the human body isn't designed to be eating these inflammatory foods, let alone in the quantities that we do today. Making efforts to reduce these processed foods can be an incredibly impactful step to restoring balance in the body. 

1. Industrial seed oils (also watch for these in processed foods)

  • Canola , corn, grapeseed, soybean, safflower, sunflower, and vegetable.

2. Trans Fats  

  • Hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils, margarine, shortening, and vegan butter spreads made from omega-6 oils.

3. Sugar

4. Refined grains / refined grain products

5. Pasteurized Dairy  

  • Pasteurized dairy promotes the prostaglandins that trigger inflammation. However you may be able to tolerate raw cow or goat cheese, milk kefir, or yogurt (plain & organic).

Reduce Stress

An inflammatory response can be triggered by physical, mental and emotional stress. The stress hormone, cortisol, plays a role in regulating the inflammatory response but its ability to do so becomes significantly dampened by chronic stress.

Relaxation & self-care: Try a variety of relaxation techniques to find one that works for you. A cup of warm tea, gentle yoga/stretches, a bath with lavender and/or epsom salts, meditation or other self-care practices.

Exercise regularly: Maintaining regular exercise promotes relaxation. However your fitness activities should be enjoyable. While making efforts to reduce inflammation, avoid exercise styles that make you emotionally anxious or too physically drained.

A special thank you to Botanica for partnering with me on this post. I only ever provide product recommendations that I actually love, trust and use myself… because integrity matters to me.

Carley
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Baby Carrier Review: Comparing 6 Ergo Styles - YouTube

I. Love. Babywearing. A comfortable and reliable carrier is indispensable and I honestly can't imagine motherhood without it. I may have a bit of an addiction (I most definitely do) and I've probably cycled through more than a dozen different carriers in the three years I've been on this motherhood journey. Ergobaby is my favorite brand and this video is my honest review of all the different styles that I've owned and used with my kids. I also reveal which Ergobaby style I'd choose if I could only choose one and why I love it the most. 

Includes a review of 6 styles:
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This series was created to help you tune in and harness the power of your menstrual cycle. Learn more: How To Live in Sync With Your Menstrual Cycle: Intro

The 1st phase is menstruation. This is a time of introspection. In nature, it aligns with winter (yearly cycle), the new moon (monthly cycle), and midnight (daily cycle). 

 Typically lasts between 3-7 days.

 What's Happening Physically?

If a fertilized egg doesn’t implant into the uterine wall during the luteal phase, the lining of your uterine wall sheds to become your period.

 

How It Feels Energetically & Emotionally

You’re raw and vulnerable to becoming depleted, physically and emotionally. You may feel intensely introverted. You’re in a heightened state and more perceptive during this phase. Deep desires can be revealed.

 

How To Tune In & Flow With The Phase

Rest, retreat and reserve your energy. Listen to your body and go inward. Spend time alone or with people who lift you up, while trying to avoid people who feel challenging to connect with. Try to limit pressures to perform and be productive. Indulge in stillness and restorative self-care. Consciously take the opportunity to reflect and focus on releasing things that are no longer serving you.

Try to surround yourself with candles and reduce your exposure to artificial lights and electronic screens in the evenings. 

Move your body: Gentle, flowing movements. It is best not to engage in competitive sports or plan strenuous, high impact exercise.

 

How To Nourish And "Feed" This Phase

Choose warming and comforting cooked foods over cold and raw foods. Use warming spices like cinnamon, ginger, and turmeric. Drink tea, especially red raspberry and nettle. Choose iron rich foods to replenish blood loss, and foods high in vitamin C to help increase iron absorption.

 Chart Your Fertility SignsChance of conceiving: Quite unlikely, although not impossible at the end of your period if you have a short cycle.  

Cervical positioning: Low and hard (like the tip of your nose). Slightly open to allow blood to flow out.

Basal body temp: Drops when menstruation begins.

 

An Average 28 Day Cycle  Carley 
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This series was created to help you tune in and harness the power of your menstrual cycle. Learn more: How To Live in Sync With Your Menstrual Cycle: Intro

The 2nd phase is the follicular phase. It’s full of action and excitement. In nature, it aligns with spring (yearly cycle), the waxing moon (monthly cycle), and sunrise (daily cycle). 

 

What's Happening Physically?

The pituitary gland releases Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH), which stimulates the follicles in one of your ovaries to mature. You feel lighter and less weighed down during this phase.

 

How It Feels Energetically & Emotionally

Estrogen drives your desire for connection and you feel social this week.

Your mood and brain function get boosted. Your energy is rising and your confidence increases.

Testosterone may make you feel more impulsive and you have a higher pain threshold.

 

How To Tune In & Flow With The Phase

Collaborate, initiate new projects, and be assertive. Go after your dreams.

Problem solve, take more risks, and try new things.

Move your body: Go for challenging and energetic physical activities that you enjoy.

 

How To Nourish And "Feed" This Phase

Well balanced meals help you maintain your accumulating energy without causing spikes. Blood sugar imbalances can disrupt approaching ovulation, so be mindful of refined sugars and processed grain products.  

 

Chart Your Fertility SignsChance of conceiving: Good, especially leading up to ovulation. An egg isn’t released during this phase but sperm can live in a woman's body for up to five days.

Cervical mucous: Early in the phase a slight dampness will be present when you check your cervical fluid, similar to touching the inside of your mouth. Leading up to ovulation it can be opaque white or yellow. Texture becomes thick, sticky, pasty, or crumbly. As estrogen rises it then starts to become thinner and creamy. This fertile phase usually starts about three to five days prior to an egg being released. The creamy fluid protects and nourishes sperm waiting for ovulation inside a woman’s body.

Cervical positioning: Starts off relatively low, firm, dry and tightly closed. Over the course of this phase it becomes higher, softer and wetter.

Basal body temp: Will be lower and stable during this phase, averaging between 97.0 and 97.7.

 

An average 28 day cycle

Read Next: How To Live In Sync With Your Cycle: Menstruation

Carley
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