Human Milk Machine

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Now I know how the cows feel!

It’s been a “milky” few months! My first time milking a cow at a pumpkin patch, (shown above), and my first time milking myself!

When my son was born, he was a healthy 8.8 pounds. It took some time for my milk to come in and those few days were some of the most stressful I’ve experienced. I was producing some colostrum and he was getting some of that, but because I had difficulty with his latch, he was constantly crying, and starving! He wasn’t getting enough to eat, and this left me feeling so defeated and helpless. I could tell he had lost weight, and although some weight loss after birth is normal, the doctors were concerned with his weight and recommended a formula supplement. The formula really upset his digestion, but I felt my hands were tied. He needed some nutrition.

Thankfully, my milk came in on day three. I was still having difficulty with his latch though but I persevered, gritting my teeth through the pain in order for him to eat and thrive. We met with several lactation consultants, but I had such high anxiety around breastfeeding, it was almost impossible for me to relax into it. I felt so guilty! Wasn’t I supposed to be enjoying these bonding moments? I kept waiting for the oxytocin “rush” that other mommies had told me about. All that I was feeling was dread and pain. Not fun!

Luckily, my insurance provided me with a breast pump at no cost (thank you Obama!) and I started using it to extract my milk and bottle feed. This has been working really well for us, and now 10 weeks later, my son weighs a healthy 14 pounds! It is one of the strangest things I’ve ever done though, and every time I pump, which is about every 4 hours around the clock, I can’t help but feel like a human milk machine!

There are a few things I’ve been doing to maintain a healthy milk supply: I’ve been drinking Traditional Medicinals Mother’s Milk tea every day, at least 3 bags, and I’ve also been using the Milk Rich herbal tincture by Wish Garden Herbs a couple times per day. Every time I go to pump, I start by drinking a glass of water and then I’ll have another when I’m done.

I noticed that some days I seemed to make more milk than others. My friend Amy mentioned that oats help to increase the milk supply and I realized that indeed, on the days that I had oatmeal for breakfast, I made more milk!

Such a strange , beautiful, and wonderful thing our female body is! Another friend advised me to at least hold my son to my breast once per day. Even if he doesn’t latch, his saliva on my nipple will help my body to produce the kind of milk he needs. Amazing!

So while it’s been a somewhat bumpy ride, I am so grateful to be able to feed my son. And in return, I am getting so many healthy benefits too: breast cancer and diabetes prevention, not to mention that extra 500 calorie burn per day! Just in time for Turkey Day!! Happy Thanksgiving everyone!!

 

 

 

 

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Making Workouts Work

My son Forrest is two months old today! We are falling into a rhythm now, which is becoming more predictable but is still somewhat sporadic! So while I’ve been able to get some gym time in, I’d say the majority of my plans around exercise have fallen to the wayside. It’s hard enough to get to the gym sans baby, but now scheduling is all the more complicated. There are limited windows of opportunity based on my husband being able to watch him, and of course, the times that are available haven’t been so appealing. Sure, I could get to the gym from 6 pm to 7 pm, but after interrupted sleep the night before, staying home, relaxing, and getting to bed by 8 pm seems so much more attractive! Plus, sometimes, it’s the only opportunity I have to connect with my husband all day.

Last week, I got to the gym twice, this week, it hasn’t happened at all. But what I’m doing instead is sneaking in mini workouts throughout the day. Once he’s down for a nap, I’ll alternate 15 push ups with 50 crunches, and try to get three sets in. Another option is to do a plank and alternate side planks. Right now, I can just hold them for about 30 seconds but I’ll work my way back up! Finally, lunges across the living room, while carrying Forrest in the baby Bjorn is a great way to get myself stronger, and soothe the baby!

The baby Bjorn has been such a lifesaver; it soothes my son when he’s fussy, I can get things done, and when I’m feeling really ambitious, I can take the two dogs out for a walk at the same time. That’s another nice workout! For about 20-30 minutes at a time, I’m carrying an extra weight of almost 14 pounds. On a good day, we get two walks in.

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Full on Mommy Nerd! I can hardly recognize myself with the sun visor and the sensible walking shoes, LOL!

Slowly but surely, I’m feeling more like myself again. My big lesson here as a new mom is that I have to stay flexible and put my desires on the back burner a lot of the time. But as long as I keep the burners going and don’t give up, things are slowly getting done. And, hey! I’m down 29 pounds 🙂

Insatiable Zombie Mom

My baby boy is six weeks old now and he’s been “cluster feeding,” wanting to eat about every hour or so through the night. He’s also had some serious gas; some of his farts are so loud, they put grown men to shame! Poor little guy, he’s colicky and probably having growing pains. Well the result is not so much sleep all around for the entire family and I’m not always as Zen as I described in my last blog post. So I’m feeling like the living dead these days. And what I’ve been noticing is that along with the fatigue comes some serious munchies!

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Yes, it’s really me, zombified! 

It doesn’t help that Halloween is right around the corner. Why, oh why did I get Halloween candy already? I should have waited until the day before and gotten things that I hate. Or better yet, swapped out the candy for stickers or fun pencils and crayons like my smart friend Heather did. Anyhow, I’m ashamed to admit, I’ve been hitting that candy stash like a fiend. I’m so tired and frustrated; I feel as though I’ve completely lost all willpower and those peanut butter Snickers are just calling my name.

There’s actually a scientific explanation behind this phenomenon. As it turns out, lack of sleep increases ghrelin, the hormone that makes you feel hungry. It also decreases leptin, the hormone that makes you feel full. So when you’re sleep deprived you feel more hungry and can’t feel full. The result is that you become a starving bottomless pit!

Well, I’m hitting the reset button and coming clean! I’m on a mission to be a healthy, active and fit mom, and I want to live by example. I’ve always felt that awareness and honesty is the pivoting point of making change. Hey, even holistic nutritionists struggle with this stuff! Now for the nitty gritty. Here are my steps towards getting off this sugar roller coaster ride:

Be gentle with myself! Remind myself that there are powerful hormones driving this behavior. A few slips here and there is not the end of the world; it’s what I choose to do most of the time that matters.

Emphasize protein and healthy fat; they help to increase feelings of fullness. Greek yogurt, whey protein powder  and nut butter can make a quick an easy smoothie.

When the cravings hit, drink a big glass of water! I need extra hydration anyway while breast feeding and even slight dehydration can increase feelings of fatigue and lower metabolism by up to 50%.

When the boy is sleeping, prepare some quick and easy munchies: apple and carrot slices with a spoonful of almond butter, pre-portioned crackers and a cube of cheese, unsweetened coconut flakes, and hard boiled eggs are some easy ones.

Needless to say, I haven’t lost any more weight this week. But I haven’t gained any and I’ve been regular with my walks and getting to the gym about three times per week (thanks to Hubby encouraging me and watching our baby).

So I will keep trudging on! Until next time!

Sylvie

Be Here Now Baby Meditation

I am making my way along the shady trail, dogs in tow, enjoying the feel of the breeze cooling me off and taking in the view of greenery. It’s so peaceful and serene.

“Wahhhh!!! Wahhh!!! Wahhh!!!” What in the world is that sound? Is there an injured animal on the trail?

“Wahhh!!! Wahhh!!! Wahhhh!!” I hear it again. The sound is so nerve wracking, completely rattling me to my core. What is happening? Did somebody bring their baby to the woods?

“Wahhh!!! Wahhh!! Wahhh!!!” Oh my God! It’s my baby! I’ve drifted off to sleep and he’s jolting me out of my dreamland. Completely disoriented, I stumble out of bed to his bassinet. It’s 3:45 in the morning and he’s hungry!

And so starts my day. A day full of interruptions. I’m a 39 year old first time mom. I had gotten pretty used to living my life on my own terms. This tiny little 5 week old man has revolutionized my world! My emotions fluctuate between being completely stressed out, cranky and sleep deprived, and totally blissed out and in love with this little being.

I’m learning to surrender to the acceptance of his will over mine. Through this process, I am finding more joy in the disruptions. It’s a process. He is teaching me to slow down and to remember what’s truly important. Checking my email, doing the dishes, taking the trash out, cleaning house, all of these things can wait. My baby’s insistent cries remind me of true priorites: “I need love! My tummy is hungry! Give me comfort!”

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Ever notice how babies look like the Buddha? I’m sure it’s no coincidence! Babies come into this world absolutely perfect. While in the womb, everything is provided for them in a seamless manner. Then they enter this new environment where there is suffering! Temperature changes, hunger pangs, even eliminating causes pain. Our job as parents is to ease them into this world of hurt. In the process of being there for them, we learn more compassion, we learn to slow down and be in the moment.

We are also reminded that everything is temporary. The crying, even though it sounds like the most aggravating, urgent thing in the world, will pass eventually. And If you were able to stop, be there, and ride that wave out with the tiny being, you may be rewarded with a smile more radiant than a sunrise or the sweet sound of calm breathing and heavy eyelids that wash calm over that tiny face.

So my intention today is to welcome the interruptions. I will take them as an opportunity to stop and to slow down and to put my will aside for a change, so that I can remember what’s truly important: being in loving service and connection with others, my baby, my tiny Buddha.

My Post Partum Fitness Journey, 4 Weeks Later

My goodness what an adventure it’s been! I have a whole new sense of respect and admiration for biology and the female body! Having just turned 39, I was somewhat apprehensive about getting pregnant. I had some doubts and wondered first of all, could I even get pregnant? And If I did, would I have the energy to be the fun-loving mom that I wanted to be? And yes, I’ll admit it; would I be able to lose the baby weight? Like many women, I have struggled with body image in the past and the thought of going through so many changes felt scary in many ways.

Turns out getting pregnant was not so difficult! I was fortunate that way.  Looking back, getting pregnant was the fun part! Although at times, it was quite stressful. I remember each month when Aunt Flo came for her visit, I was so discouraged. But four months into it, right before Christmas, Santa brought us the best gift ever; a positive pregnancy test!

My pregnancy was relatively easy. I realize how fortunate I am in this regard as well. I credit genetics, and fairly clean eating habits for several years (mostly organic, Paleo oriented). I took a prenatal vitamin, and quit coffee and alcohol for almost a year before getting pregnant. During the pregnancy, I had no nausea, no food aversions, slept well for the most part, and maintained an easy exercise routine pretty much until the end; two daily dog walks and a light strength training circuit at the gym several times per week. I also sprinkled in some swimming, yoga  and pregnancy workout DVD’s at home.

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So, I ended up gaining 40 pounds, just five pounds over the high side of the “recommended” weight gain of 25-35 pounds for a woman starting in a “normal” BMI. I put quotes around some of these terms because I want to emphasize that every woman is different and what’s normal for one, may not be normal for another. While I was pregnant, I tried to limit sweet treats to once per week, although I admittedly fell off the wagon several times and there were weeks where it was more like on a daily basis. I did eat plenty of greens, lots and lots of eggs (we have our own backyard chickens), and plenty of healthy fats: avocado, nuts, organic butter, coconut oil, grass-fed beef, lamb, sardines, and wild salmon.

Because I tested GBS positive, the hospital required me to get IV antibiotics while in labor. I had a very long labor, 52 hours! So I ended up getting numerous rounds of antibiotics and tons of IV fluids. I was so bloated and full of fluids, that despite birthing a healthy 8.8 pound baby boy and a huge placenta, when I weighed myself the next day, my weight hadn’t budged! And suddenly, despite having avoided them through my pregnancy, the cankles showed up!

The first week back home was rough to say the least. I could barely walk. Literally, I don’t remember ever being so slow. It was disheartening. My pelvis felt like it was going to drop on the floor with each step. I could literally feel the fluids swishing around in my legs as I tried to move around. Going up and down the 5 stairs in my home felt like a major undertaking. When I first looked at my naked body, I burst into tears because my stomach looked like a deflated beach ball. I didn’t even dare look “down there” to assess the damage from the tear that required stitching.

It’s a rough time! The lack of sleep, combined with the fluctuating hormones can really bring the waterworks when it comes to tears! Thank goodness for my supportive husband who reassured me of how beautiful and powerful I was as a woman and now a mother! My body had created a new life and brought it into this world, and that was so amazing and super sexy! 🙂 Yup, I found myself a good man!

So I took it really slowly. I pushed myself in tiny increments. I dragged myself out of the house and although it was frustrating not to be able to move like I wanted to, getting out really boosted my spirits. Leaning on the baby stroller for support helped too, and by about week three, I was walking a couple of miles, really slowly, but steadily! Walking also really helped to push the excess fluids out, and by the end of week three, I had lost 20 pounds!

4 weeks after my son’s birthday, I am down 25 pounds. I have 15 more to go until I reach my pre pregnancy weight. I still have a line running down my belly and a little pooch, but I am starting to feel “normal” again, with the exception of the giant boobies! There’s one perk of the post pregnancy body! Although, I wonder how it’s going to feel once I decide to start running again!

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My intention with this new blog is to create some accountability for myself, and to share my experience with other post-partum moms so that we may support one another and hopefully laugh our way through it! I will be writing at least once weekly on nutrition, exercise, and any other wellness topic that comes up along the way. I am realizing now how difficult it is to take care of myself now that there is another human being entirely dependent on me!

Until next week, be well!

Are EMF’s harming my baby?

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My husband and I have been enjoying watching “Better Call Saul,” the much anticipated prequel to the hit TV series “Breaking Bad.” In case you aren’t familiar, in this new show, the main character Saul’s brother Charles suffers from EMF sensitivity. So much so, that visitors must leave their cell phones and all electronic devices outside his electricity-free-home while visiting, and “ground themselves” before entering. When Charles is exposed to radiation, he experiences intense pain and because of this, he is virtually incapable of functioning in society. Charles’s character is protrayed as somewhat of a freak show, and we’re left to wonder if he actually suffers some kind of mental illness. But what if it were true? What if there are some people out there that are suffering from real medical conditions due to EMF (Electro-magnetic frequency) sensitivity? And what if this kind of sensitivity manifested itself in varying degrees? What if it showed up as mysterious headaches, joint pain, brain fog, ADD, asthma, and even Autism?

I’m not a scientist or a doctor. I do consider myself a wellness professional and am always looking into ways our lifestyle affects the quality of our health. And now that I’m pregnant, I find myself even more vigilant about the kinds of daily choices that I make. Is keeping my cell phone in my pocket for “safety” while I go on my daily walks actually harming my unborn son? What about that SMART meter right outside the nursery window? Should we switch back to a “wired” computer network?

I coach people on a daily basis around making healthy behavioral changes: quitting smoking, healthier eating, physical activity, and stress management. So I was blown away when I came across an article that suggested the dangers of wearable electrical devices could equal those of smoking!

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/19/style/could-wearable-computers-be-as-harmful-as-cigarettes.html?_r=0

When living in an urban environment, we are absolutely bombarded with invisible electrical pollution. Between the wi-fi, all of the cell phones, everyone now wearing fitbits to track their calorie expenditure, and SMART meters in our homes, our environment has drastically changed within the last 20 years. How much is this ubiquitous electrical “cloud” of energy all around us affecting us as electrical beings?

In France, they have already banned Wifi in baby nurseries and in schools and forbid children under the age of 12, whose brains are still developing, to use cell phone technology.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/lifestyle/wellbeing/11589857/Is-Wi-Fi-making-your-child-ill.html

This is seriously making me rethink the Wi-Fi video baby monitor that I was considering! Sure it would be fabulous for my Aunt and Cousin in Paris to log on and catch a glimpse of my sleeping baby all the way in California, but at what potential cost?

Another thing that’s been on my mind recently while pregnant is of course, the whole autism phenomenon. Why is there such a sudden rise? Just out of curiosity, I googled “EMF Exposure and Autism.” Wow! Looks like I scratched the tip of an huge, ugly iceberg. Not only is there a ton of research currently being done around this, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24095003, but there is evidence that EMF exposure in the womb can increase the likelihood of asthma in the offspring: http://emfsafetynetwork.org/maternal-exposure-to-magnetic-fields-during-pregnancy-in-relation-to-the-risk-of-asthma-in-offspring/.

My Grandmother used to always say, “When in doubt, err on the side of caution and just abstain.” I don’t want to stress myself or anyone else out about this issue. It is so important to keep things balanced; we do what we can in various areas of life. We choose healthy, whole foods, we move our bodies, we connect and laugh with our loved ones.  For some, the thought of going wireless may be anxiety producing! For me, I’m willing to give it a go. Why not? What have I got to lose? I would welcome your thoughts and comments on this issue.

Yours in Health,

Sylvie Nalezny, MA

 

 

Mourning Angelina Jolie’s Double Masectomy: 12 Tips for Breast Health

Every day I check my Yahoo email and I briefly scan the featured Yahoo News stories, mostly ignoring the paparazzi headlines  and trying not to get too distracted. Today I was stunned upon reading the latest about Angelina Jolie. After discovering that she had the “faulty” breast cancer gene, she opted for a double mastectomy. 
Yikes! I remember when Christina Applegate did this a few years back and it shocked me then. However, Christina had already discovered cancer and was scheduled for chemo and radiation. I guess what’s really upsetting to me is this concept of “preventive mastectomy. ” Needing to have one is already hard enough.  But getting one just because you have a certain gene? I feel that this “short-cut” approach is but a bandage of deeper symptoms that we are experiencing as an unhealthy society. 
Number one, I respect every woman’s right to make their own decisions about what they want to do to their bodies. However, this story really affected me and rattled me to the core about my own beliefs. I was extremely saddened that someone so famous, with so much influence, so much money and access to the best medical treatment would choose this route of going under the knife. 
I am a nutrition educator and I help women feel better in their own bodies, take charge of their health and start making day to day decisions that will impact their overall wellbeing. I am a firm believer in Nutrigenomics (the study of how nutrition impacts genetics), and that having a “faulty” gene is in no way a death sentence. In other words, Nurture and Nature both play a role in overall health. I would like to believe that the daily choices that we make have a greater impact than simply our genetics. I realize that there are plenty of super healthy people that end up suffering from diseases nevertheless.  Such is the way of the Universe sometimes and no one can explain that. I feel that Proactive health means eating the right foods for one’s Metabolic Type,  spending time with healthy people, and doing the things that we love. I don’t see how self mutilation falls into this Proactive health category.
I really hope I’m not offending anyone but realize that with such a delicate topic as this, many people are going to be. I welcome your comments and thoughts. Meanwhile, here are 12 tips to keep breasts healthy (and this goes for men too!)
  1. Minimize refined sugar. Sugar acidifies your body and cancer thrives in an acidic environment.
  2. Limit alcohol to 5 oz. of wine or beer daily or 1 oz. hard alcohol. Alcohol increases estrogen levels and this may lead to estrogenic types of cancer.
  3. Limit coffee to 8 oz. daily. Caffeine increases the formation of cysts (lumps) in the breasts. 
  4. Avoid anything that has hydrogenated oil in it, even if the label claims 0 grams trans fats! Hydrogenated oils clog cell membranes, prevent the absorption of nutrients and the elimination of wastes. 
  5. Avoid canned foods which are lined with Bisphenol A, an estrogen like compound. Acidic foods like citrus and tomatoes are more likely to leach this out of the cans. 
  6. Choose meat and dairy products that are hormone free. The hormones given to animals can disrupt our own hormonal balance. 
  7. Care for your liver and colon. If these are healthy, we can maintain hormonal balance more efficiently. Include warm lemon water on a daily basis, first thing in the morning. This will stimulate the liver, and induce a bowel movement. Limonene, found in lemon and orange peels prevents breast cancer by blocking cancer cells’ utilization of protein.
  8. Eat cruciferous veggies such as Broccoli, Cauliflower, Kale, Brussels sprouts, Bok Choy, and Cabbage. These are powerful cancer fighting vegetables that contain “indoles” to supercharge detoxification.
  9. Eat red, blue and purple fruits and vegetables. The pigments in these protect DNA from free radicals and slows the mutation of cancerous cells. 
  10. Eat Selenium rich foods such as Brazil nuts, onions and garlic. Selenium kills cancer cells before they can spread! 
  11. Enjoy Tangerines. Tangeretin, the plant chemical found in tangerines is 250 times more powerful than genistein (in soy) at squelching breast cancer cells. 
  12. Ensure adequate sleep. Our bodies only make melatonin in the dark when we are asleep. Melatonin is a super antioxidant and free radical scavenger. 
I have many more tips and I’m happy to share. Please email me for more information: sylvie@realfoodnutrition.com.

My final thought is that in a world where everything is interconnected, we can’t just cut off and discard the pieces that we don’t want. Thinking in this mechanistic sort of model keeps us from evolving and being truly healthy. Addressing all causes and catalysts of disease is where I’d like to see society’s current mindset move towards.  Rather than dissecting, cutting, & discarding, I’d like us to assimilate, and make changes that connect us further to our health, other beings and our environment. Rather than taking a pill to bandage symptoms or to remove a body part that may become “problematic” let’s take full inventories of our lives.

What are we consuming and putting on our skin on a daily basis? Are we spending our time with people in places that nourish us or drain us? While addressing issues like these is more complex and takes more time in certain cases, I believe that this is the path to true health and happiness. 
Yours in Health, 
Sylvie Nalezny, MA, CNE