Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Don't Throw Out Your Turkey Bones

Right now the media is full of recipes for leftover turkey. What all can you do with leftover turkey? It’s endless! You can find recipes for turkey enchiladas, turkey quesadillas, turkey chili verde, turkey stir-fry, turkey soups, turkey casseroles, turkey tetrazzini, turkey spaghetti, turkey...

But I want to give a shout out to the bones. Don’t throw out the turkey bones! They can make a very nourishing broth to be used for illnesses or recipes that call for broth.

After you’ve pulled all the meat off the turkey, put the bones in a large stock pot. I add an onion or two, a bulb of garlic, peppers, celery, herbs like rosemary or thyme...whatever I have on hand. Add 1 tbsp of apple cider vinegar to help draw the minerals out of the bones. Fill the pot with water, covering the bones. Simmer all day. After it has cooled, strain the liquid into containers, and store them in the freezer.
Whenever I need a recipe that calls for broth, or when someone in my family becomes ill, I pull this broth out and heat it up.

Bone broth at the first sign of an illness helps keep us hydrated, and the protein, calcium, magnesium, and other minerals supports our bodies’ ability to repair themselves. The garlic, onions, and herbs strengthen our immune systems and help our bodies fight off whatever germs we’ve been exposed to. This, along with plenty of rest, cutting out the sugar/processed foods, and herbs like elderberry and echinacea have been tried-and-true at helping us get over whatever we've been exposed to more quickly.

In addition to being hydrating, nourishing, and immune-boosting, homemade broth is more delicious and satisfying than the canned broths in the supermarket! Our Thanksgiving turkeys yield several quarts of delicious bone broth.

The same process can be done with vegetables to make vegetable stock. When you are cutting up your onions, celery, broccoli, carrots, or whatever, save the parts that you would normally throw away, simmer them together, and strain for veggie broth.

From our family to yours...Happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, September 22, 2017

Your Due Date May Be Like the First Day of Fall

The First Day of Fall

Many of my friends have been anticipating the first day of fall for weeks now. My Facebook newsfeed has been overtaken by pumpkin spice memes, pumpkins, hoodies, football, bonfires, boots...and TODAY is the long-awaited first day of fall!

 Except nothing resembling "fall" is happening outside. It's 94 degrees out. I'm even going to skip the football game this evening; I'm afraid I'll melt. (Go, Yellowjackets!)

Everybody who's been in Arkansas for any length of time knows to not expect Fall at the end of September. We already know it's going to be awhile longer before we start feeling fall temperatures. Even though we know that, it's still a little of a bummer when the first day of fall gets here...and it's still summer.

It reminds me of the end of my pregnancies. After my second pregnancy, I had come to expect that I would go past my "due date," and by a lot. Not days, but weeks. I was already in the habit of giving a "due month" when people would ask. And still, when my due date would pass, I would be a little bummed to still be pregnant, to show no signs of delivering a baby anytime soon. Or even worse--to show a few signs, get my hopes all up, and then still have lots of pregnancy left!

Just remember, nothing can last forever. Not summer, not pregnancy. Babies will come when it is time, heat waves will finally give way to crisp mornings. Then crisp mornings will give way to frost, frost will give way to spring buds, spring buds will blossom into barbeques and days at the lake...and before you know it, the baby will be taking her first steps.

So hang in there, Arkansas friends...especially pregnant Arkansas friends! Our fall is on the horizon! 

Friday, September 15, 2017

National Day of Encouragement

Birth Affirmation
Whatever comes your way can do it. You will get through it. You have what it takes. Just breathe.     

Monday, July 31, 2017

Is Water Birth a Safe Option?

Birth pool waterbirth at home
Image courtesy of Catherine Anne Photography

One of our frequently asked questions is, "Do you do water births?"
The answer is yes, we do! Laboring and/or birthing in the water is a popular option among our home birth clients.  We have two birth pools, which we loan out at no charge (there is a $30 charge for the disposable liner.) We will give you instructions on setting it up, how to fill it, when to fill it, how to drain it, and anything else you need to know.

The above photo is one of our tubs in use. The water is approximately chest deep and covers your belly when full. (That's me in the photo. I loved my waterbirths!)

Another question we are frequently asked is, "What do you think about waterbirth? Is it safe?"

The short answer is yes, we believe waterbirth is safe, based on our experience, along with the current literature. We have seen that immersing in a tub of warm water benefits laboring mothers by helping them relax, helping them to get into comfortable positions, making it easier to cope with contractions, and decreasing their perception of pain. If our client chooses to stay in the pool to birth the baby, we have not seen any increase of adverse outcomes for the baby in our practice.

If you would like to read more about this birth choice, Evidence-Based Birth published an excellent article on water birth, written by Rebecca Dekker, PhD, RN, APRN, in which she thoroughly examined the existing research that has been done on water birth (and there is an 80 page annoted bibliography available of all the research studies that have been done.) The conclusion:

For women, there are several benefits associated with waterbirth. There is strong evidence that waterbirth is associated with a lower episiotomy rate, and that women who use waterbirth will have higher rates of intact perineum and use less medicine for pain relief.The benefits or risks for the newborn are less clear, but so far the evidence shows fewer or equal NICU admission rates for waterbirth babies compared to babies born on land.There have been rare case reports of breathing problems or infections in infants after waterbirth, but these risks have not been seen in the large, recent, prospective studies on waterbirth.The ACOG/AAP opinion statement on waterbirth contained major scientific errors and was an inaccurate and incomplete review of the literature.Their opinion statement should not be relied upon to make informed decisions about the availability of waterbirth for women. Based on the data that we have,waterbirth is a reasonable option for low-risk women during childbirth, provided that they understand the potential benefits and risks. If women have a strong desire for waterbirth, and there are experienced care providers who are comfortable in attending waterbirths, then at this time there is no evidence to deny women this option of pain relief. Although we need more research on waterbirth, the available research shows that universal bans on waterbirth are not evidence-based.

Although getting in the tub during labor is a possibility at some of our local area hospitals, none of them allow water birth. Hospital policies mandate getting out of the tub before pushing begins.

If a water birth is what you desire, and home birth is an option for you, there are experienced midwives in Arkansas who are comfortable attending waterbirths. I would love to chat with you about it! Give me a call or text at 501-436-8525, or contact me here.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Healthy Chocolate Milkshake

Healthy Chocolate Milkshake
It seems like I am on a never-ending quest for healhy snacks. Not just healthy, but also delicious--I want them to be more enticing than the less-healthy snacks I crave. And kid-approved, too. Oh, and let's not forget frugal...keeping enough snacks to satisfy all my hungry mouths during the summer can amount to a nice chunk of change.

Yes, such a snack exists.

I present to you...healthy chocolate milkshakes.

Easy to make...
One banana 
A dollop of peanut butter
A tsp cocoa powder
A cup of milk (regular, almond, coconut, whatever you prefer)
A cup of ice
Blend until creamy. Adjust the milk and/or ice to your desired consistency. Add a little stevia or a squeeze of honey if you want yours a little sweeter.

The overripe bananas that the kids won't touch are perfect for this. Slice them up, stick them in a plate on the freezer, and use them when ready. You can store them in a ziplock after they are frozen, but mine never stick around that long. Frozen ripe bananas blend up nicely into an ice-cream-like consistency. 

Do you ever keep treats stashed away to savor during those victorious moments, when everyone is down for a nap or quietly occupied, and you have a few precious moments for yourself? This tastes decadent enough for one of those moments. 

This has broken my drive-through-Sonic-for-half-price-milkshakes-after-8pm habit.

And hey, when the kids come find you and see that you have a treat, this is one you won't mind sharing.

Friday, March 24, 2017

World Doula Week

In February of 2017, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists issued an opinion statement on approaches to limiting interventions during labor. Among their recommendations and conclusions was that continuous one-on-one emotional support by support personnel (doulas!) benefits laboring women.
"Evidence suggests that, in addition to regular nursing care, continuous one-to-one emotional support provided by support personnel, such as a doula, is associated with improved outcomes for women in labor. Benefits found in randomized trials include shortened labor, decreased need for analgesia, fewer operative deliveries, and fewer reports of dissatisfaction with the experience of labor (1, 17). As summarized in a Cochrane evidence review, a woman who received continuous support was less likely to have a cesarean delivery (RR, 0.78; 95% CI, 0.67–0.91) or a newborn with a low 5-minute Apgar score (fixed-effect, RR, 0.69; 95% CI, 0.50–0.95) (1). Continuous support for a laboring woman that is provided by a nonmedical person also has a modest positive effect on shortening the duration of labor (mean difference –0.58 hours; 95% CI, –0.85 to –0.31) and improving the rate of spontaneous vaginal birth (RR, 1.08; 95% CI, 1.04–1.12) (1)."

This one-on-one emotional support, so valuable during labor and birth, is just as valuable in the first few weeks at home! As new parents adjust to new roles, new schedules, and new demands, a postpartum doula helps the whole family transition into their new "normal."

This week, doulas are being recognized and celebrated worldwide for their contributions to birthing and new families. World Doula Week begins every year on March 22, the Day of the Doula, and continues through March 28. This week, I want to say THANK YOU to all the wonderful doulas in my life, for all the loving support you provide to new and growing families!

Sunday, February 26, 2017

My Journey to Becoming a Lactation Consultant

When I stumbled into motherhood for the first time at age 20, I didn’t even consider breastfeeding. I remember being asked “breast or bottle?” by the nurses at the doctor’s office and the hospital. I remember reading materials from the doctor’s office that indicated there must be some women out there who fed their babies from their breasts. But I didn’t personally know any of them. All my friends and all the adult women I knew bottle fed. (I still didn’t think of my friends and myself as “adults.”)

 When I had my second baby, as a 27-year-old RN by that time, I had learned more about the benefits of breastfeeding, and my friends had begun to breastfeed their babies. I hesitantly told my husband that I was thinking of breastfeeding, uncertain of how he would feel about it. It turned out his own mother had breastfed him and his five siblings, and he assumed that this was what I would do. We attended a breastfeeding class together at the hospital where we both worked, where I was given the advice to feed for 10 minutes on each side. That class was my only breastfeeding education. It seemed totally natural to breastfeed, and I assumed that after she was born, I’d put her to the breast, and she’d eat.

My beautiful baby girl, MJ, was placed on my chest by the doctor immediately after delivery. The nurses rubbed her vigorously as they dried her off, for although she appeared pink, she did not cry for several minutes, and her first cries were weak. I felt stunned myself—the epidural seemed to affect me systemically rather than locally, my blood pressure had dropped very low, and the anesthetist hung out in my room monitoring me for awhile afterward. I suspected the medication affected her. Although she was placed skin-to-skin with me initially, she was taken to the warmer for exams and tests before being brought back to feed. I was relieved when she latched on and suckled. THen for the rest of the night, it was hit-and-miss. When it began to hurt, the nurse gave me a nipple shield. Although I was offered a Lactation Consultant visit in the hospital, I did not get to see one.

Once I got MJ home, I had trouble getting her to wake up and eat, and it worried me. I began pumping my breasts with a manual pump that I had bought at Wal-Mart, and I fed her what I pumped with a dropper. My only support or knowledge during this time came from what was available on the internet in 2001 and from my dear friend Andrea, who had breastfed her three girls. MJ eventually became more alert and latched on, but my nipples quickly became extremely sore. Andrea came over to check my latch and give me pointers. And then MJ began spitting up large amounts immediately after her feeds. At her first pediatrician visit, at 2 weeks old, she had gained about a half a pound over her birth weight, and the doctor was not at all concerned about her spitting up. But I was still concerned. The amount she was spitting completely soaked her clothes.

Then MJ became very fussy. She cried almost constantly, and I wasn’t sure why. Was she hungry? It seemed like she was constantly wanting to nurse. Was I over feeding her? I spent my days wearing her in a sling, vertically against my chest. Walking back and forth through the house seemed to soothe her. To say this was a very difficult time for us would be an understatement. I felt like I was failing at breastfeeding and failing at being a mom. I read as much as I could on the internet, deciding to eliminate dairy from my diet, but it didn’t seem to help much. At each pediatrician visit, I would mention her crying and spitting up, only to be assured that “some babies just do that”, and each time, he recommended thickened formula. 

I had gone back to work in the meantime, working the day shift in a busy Labor & Delivery unit, and I could often only pump once in a shift. The hand-held pump was still the only pump I had. I didn’t get very much milk when I pumped, and we resorted to soy formula to make up for what was lacking. MJ continued to be very fussy and continued to spit up after every feed. At her 4 month pediatrician visit, the doctor sent home with me a can of thickened formula. Shortly after that, I began feeding it to her, and then I stopped breastfeeding altogether. The thickened formula did not help her spitting up and fussiness, and neither did soy formula. But my supply was gone, and I did not think I could get it back. Breastfeeding was just over, and I was sad about it. The first time I fed her from a bottle broke my heart. My husband and I were involved in Couple-to-Couple League at the time, an organization that encouraged ecological and extended breastfeeding. All the other women at the meetings breastfed their babies and toddlers. Although the ladies were very kind and not judgmental in the least, I still wanted to sink into the floor when I pulled out our bottles of formula. 

When I was expecting my 3rd baby, a cuddly son, I began attending La Leche League meetings in the 3rd trimester. I read books on breastfeeding. I saw a Lactation Consultant in the hospital. Armed with support and knowledge, breastfeeding him was a completely different experience. It was so easy and convenient that we continued until after he turned two, weaning during the first trimester of my 4th pregnancy. My dream of someday becoming a Lactation Consultant had been born. All of my children since then have been breastfed, weaning between a year and 18-months-old. For some of them, I’ve had to eliminate dairy, and I had supply challenges with the last two, but all of them grew and thrived on my milk. 

Reflecting back on my experiences has taught me a few things about breastfeeding support. Although I sometimes wish I had known more about breastfeeding before my oldest was born, I believe that at the time, I would not have been receptive had the information been presented to me. I was at a completely different place then. Formula feeding was what I wanted to do, and I felt no guilt over it.
With my second child, I believe I did the best I could with what I had at the time, but it wasn’t what I wanted to do. When I reached out to our pediatrician for support, I felt dismissed, like my concerns were unimportant. I struggled for the longest time with feeling that I had failed. That baby is now a healthy, beautiful, intelligent 16-year-old. Even though I didn't feed her the way I planned, I didn't fail. 

I wanted to become a Lactation Consultant, not to convince the world to breastfeed, not to wage war on formula feeding (I'm thankful formula is there when we need it!), but to support those who struggle, to help find a solution to those struggles if a solution can be found, and most of all, to be the one who listens.

If you need breastfeeding support and you are looking for a lactation consultant in central or south Arkansas, call or text me at 501-436-8525.