All posts by mdevick

Recent Encapsulation Research…

As we all know, pharmaceutical drugs are studied and tested, to determine how they work, if they work, and any side effects of dangers to their use. Up until recently, though anecdotal and experiential evidence abounds, no actual placebo-controlled clinical studies of ingesting placenta had been conducted. Placenta pills are not regulated by any private or governmental organization. Studies have been slow to  come to fruition, as private research grants were needed to fund these studies. And, there needed to be individuals just plain interested enough to do them!

The University of Nevada, Las Vegas, research team of Benyshek et al are just such individuals.

Though some of the papers/research is still in the process of being reviewed and released as of this writing (Sept 2017) a few pieces have come out that I wanted to highlight.

First, this study looks at the placenta in regards to iron. If I have the opportunity to educate my clients as to the effects of iron postpartum, I encourage them to make a menu plan including iron in a bio-available form (and, while prenatal vitamins are important, whole food sources of ANY vitamin are going to be more available to our bodies, thus doing it the most good!). That being said, I don’t know many of my clients are actually taking a bovine-based iron supplement, as half the women in the study were doing. So, I could look at this study in more of a positive light than the title would suggest. The placenta does contain iron, and it can at least match that of a bovine supplement. Good news!

Evidence Based Birth did a feature and video about placenta encapsulation, and also referenced this  2016 study, and noted that placenta contains about 1/4 of the iron needed for your daily recommended allowance. So, in other words, for some women, PE (Placenta Encapsulation) can reasonably be a part of their whole plan for postpartum wellness and food/supplements.

This same study noted that “the placenta contained trace/modest amounts of other minerals” (from EBB). The study also showed that none of the placentas studied contained any toxic materials – also good news, as that is a common concern people suggest! Rather than trapping ‘bad stuff’, the placenta acts more like a filter (that is a better analogy), doing its part to keep bad stuff away from the growing pre-born baby.

The same study analyzed the hormone types contained in the capsules themselves. They found

  • progesterone
  • estradiol (a form of estrogen)
  • aldosterone
  • testosterone

The amounts were small, but in the case of progesterone and estradiol, the amounts were high enough that researchers theorized that they could make a difference in the body of the person ingesting the capsules (EBB).

 

As I await, with you,  the additional parts of the study coming out, I am eager to see if the research shows the  effect of placenta encapsulation on Post-Partum Depression. At this point, we can look at these couple of newer studies and know, baseline, that placentophagy isn’t exposing you to toxins, and is at least as good as a beef (bovine) iron supplement!

The clients who have responded to my own personal post-partum survey after taking their capsules have chimed in with the following anecdotal, experiential tidbits, noting that their placenta capsules:

  • increased energy
  • helped with milk production and supply
  • helped lessen postpartum bleeding
  • helped promote feeling more calm
  • less anxious
  • more happy
  • more stable

In the meantime, I also ALWAYS advise my clients that they may experience NO effect, or they might experience a SIDE effect (negative or positive) or they might experience ALLLLL the positive effects they are looking for! Placenta Encapsulation is only PART of your overall postpartum plan, which should include adequate rest (and please line up help, so you can rest), nutritious food, more rest, lots of hydration, and then again, more rest! ….Did I mention rest?! Adequate sleep is an INCREDIBLY important part of you postpartum plan. And that means, you need a village of people caring for you, your significant other, and your other kids, so you can do so.

I also stress that, at this point, and likely for a long time into the future, encapsulators don’t have a specific education path they must take, nor are they required to be certified by a governmental or regulatory agency. There continue to be a variety of respected ways for a specialist to acquire the training and knowledge to assist women in this service – among them, self-learning, mentorship, and certification programs. I value that there are different paths we can choose, and rejoice in the freedom of that choice, with my other colleagues in this unique business!

I am completing my ServSafe Food Handlers certificate this month, and I will continue to renew my Blood Born Pathogen training on a scheduled basis. Both of these programs give me the knowledge for proper sanitation techniques, and proper temperatures which would eliminate any pathogens present.  With them, I feel absolutely confident that what I am doing provides my service in a safe, efficient, and respectful way. I work diligently, respectfully, and very conscientiously for your health and safety – that is of utmost important to me, and will continue to be. I am so honored to have served a growing number of women each year!

I will also continue to keep myself at the forefront of any additional research, and share that with you, as it becomes available. There’s always something new to learn! If I would have thought that someday I would be offering this service to FM area women and their families, I wouldn’t have believed it. But as we remain open to learning the many ways we can support women in the postpartum time, we can all continue to learn and grow to provide a peaceful postpartum for all!

 

 

Freezer Fill Up, Part III: My Favorite Method (And New Holistic Coaching Option!)

Freezer meal making is so exciting to me; I’m truly passionate about it. And as someone that has, since the birth of my first, made over 10,100 meals (and that is a conservative estimate!), I think I’ve tried just about every trick in the book. Even now, with 6 kids that I homeschool (meaning I’m making 3 meals a day, 5-6 days a week!) — I keep coming back to the lifesaving, timesaving, peace-filling nature of

 

FREEZER MEALS!

These have made my life easier, especially life with littles — postpartum life — doula/postpartum placenta services life, and — a life that wants to bless others (serving through taking someone a meal — and not having to think twice about it!).

The reasons to meal plan for the freezer are abundant. But the ways to go about it, outlined in the 1st and 2nd posts, might be a little daunting. I wanted to give my very favorite approach in this last (at least for now) post in this series, as well as offering an option for those who’d like some additional coaching through the process (read ’til the end to find out about that) …

 

My favorite easiest method that is time and budget conscious is that of, quite simply, doubling whatever you’re having for dinner (or breakfast, or lunch!) and putting the extra in the freezer.

To make it do-able, I suggest:

Start around month 7 of your pregnancy, choose one night where you’re going to make a double batch of one meal. Eat one, put the other in the freezer.

If you extrapolate that out, and say you do this for 10-12 weeks, that means you have about 2 weeks of meals in your freezer! It didn’t make a huge impact in your budget, and you seamlessly wove it into your life. Good job!

But what if you’re reading this post and you’re at week 33, and still wanting those meals? Or, you have a toddler, and still want to learn more about easier living through planning meals?

My new holistic coaching opportunity might be the right fit for you.

I’ll work with you to determine:

  • What do you like to eat?
  • How many are you feeding?
  • What allergies, intolerances, likes and dislikes are you dealing with?
  • How many meals do you want to create?
  • How do you want to cook them (crockpot, oven, skillet, microwave, etc?)
  • Or, do you want to prep salads and to go lunches, or raw food items? (I have experience with that, too.)
  • What is your budget?

Here is an example:

Enter my client couple (to see how this works!).

Step 1: What do you like to eat? My clients like chicken and (ground) turkey, and prefer not to eat much red meat. They like veggies, and prefer low dairy. Using some fun tools, including Once a Month Meals, Wildtree, and Pinterest to give them several options within their dietary needs and preferences.

Step 2: How many meals do you want to create? They’d love to have 12 meals ready when Little One arrives, and this is a great and very attainable goal.

Step 3: Tidy your freezer first – and make your first shopping trip there!

  • Do you have a bag of frozen veggies in there? Random buns/bread, or odds and ends? Take a week to menu-plan from your fridge and freezer, so that you’ll have room for storage. You’ll end up with 7 – 10 frozen meals.
  • Option: You can/should still do this if you have a deep freeze, but you might not feel the need to empty it out as much…
  • If you have items in your freezer that will go into your meal creation process, keep those frozen. In general, you want to keep what’s already frozen FROZEN. If you buy raw, keep it raw until the process is complete, before putting in the freezer.

Step 4: Look over your options (this is getting fun!)

First, Once a Month Meals: I found recipes that would fit the bill for them, with their preferences, and preferred store, Costco.  They might visit a second grocery store for smaller quantities of some items.

I chose the following 6 meals from Once a Month Meals that I thought looked delicious, were easy to prepare, and flexible for their family. I selected ‘Easy Assembly’ for every recipe, except the meatball recipe. Easy Assembly means – no cooking! Just into the freezer bag or container, and ready to freeze! I would hope they’d get one of these handy bag stands — makes it so much easy to fill multiple bags!

To get their goal of 12 meals, they’ll actually TRIPLE a few of the recipes! But, this will be easy peasy, as they are easy assembly, as I mentioned. I( always figure, as long as you’re making 1, might as well make 2-3!) I kept the serving size for 4, so they’d have ‘plan-overs’ = planned leftovers. There’s a little bit of everything: meatballs, crockpot meals, soups, burgers, pasta, and meatloaf! Comfort foods at their finest.

Recipe: Mama’s Meatballs and Gravy (swapping out the ground beef for turkey) – (dinnertime assembly/ eat 1, freeze 2.)

Recipe: BBQ Crockpot Hawaiian Chicken (GF/DF)                                                                           (assemble in the morning. freeze 2, eat one for dinner)

Recipe: Veggie-Packed Slow-Cooker Black Bean Soup (assemble in the morning, eat one, freeze 2)

Recipe: Jodi’s Chicken and Noodle

s (dinnertime assembly – eat 1, freeze 1)

Recipe: Turkey and Black Bean Burgers (assemble any time of day – keep 1 portion to eat, freeze 2 portions)

Recipe: Italian Chicken Packets (assemble any time, keep 1 portion to eat, freeze 2 portions)

Recipe: Easy Turkey Meatloaf (make 1 to eat, 1 to freeze) **Note: I would definitely swap out the veggie soup mix in this recipe with Wildtree’s All Natural, Preservative free option! Contact me to order that product at 10% off!

Cost: ~$16 for a month subscription to Once a Month Meals, plus ink for printing if you’d like to print recipes, lists, etc, and then groceries and supplies.

Second: Wildtree: Comfort Foods freezer kit is a great option that includes all their preferences. It features recipes that are ‘no-cook’, similar to the Once a Month meals option I selected.

If they wanted a ready-made option of a freezer meal kit, I found the one that worked best for them would be the ‘Comfort Foods’ kit, from Wildtree. This provides all the seasonings they’d need, plus a detailed shopping, prep, assembly, recipe, cooking, and side dish suggestion list! They could make 10 meals in about an hour or two, and then repeat to make 10 more meals at another time.

Cost: ~$80 for complete kit, plus groceries and supplies.

Third: Use Pinterest and Blog Posts!

40 Pre-Baby Freezer Meals

This post by New Leaf Wellness is a great example of a go-to, and can be adjusted to fit their preferences (it doesn’t fit it perfectly as is, but has a lot of really great recipes). And again, these do not require cooking before freezing.

I hope I’ve shown you that freezer meal planning doesn’t have to be super time consuming, or costly. Again, I have a passion for helping people plan meals. Please drop me a line if I can help YOU to succeed in having a smooth postpartum! Contact me today!

Freezer Meal Cooking: Part II: Two methods I love…

The chart in the previous post listed all the ways I would categorize freezer cooking options. Today, I want to focus on two of the methods that I think work really well, and are pretty dang easy, in fact, they’ll take you around 3-4 hours or LESS start to finish, and you’ll end up with 10 frozen meals (or more!) Links may lead you to blog posts, or to affiliate sites: purchasing from my links may result in me receiving a commission – thank you for supporting me through your purchase!

Variations on a Theme, A:

Choose a protein, and then make a whole slew of varieties using that protein as the centerplace in various main dishes. Wait, that came out kind of weird – let me explain.

Before my fifth was born, I made 4 batches of meatballs, and 6 meals of beef burgers. Now, to the uninitiated, that may sound totally boring. But, first, when you have a new baby, and everything is new, and you’re maybe a little deprived of sleep, and you haven’t showered in a couple of days, just hot food. sounds. awesome. So, there’s that.

But, let me also say, I didn’t really feel like I at the same meal twice! I looked up different spice combinations for the meatballs –  I chose Asian, Italian, Latin American, and Indian inspired flavors, which could be combined with grains – rice, quinoa, and noodles, to make an easy meal. I bought jarred sauces to have on hand, and voila! Simple. Easy.

For the burgers I did the same. I had black beans to throw in for a Mexican-inspired flavor, along with spices, and had Pizza burgers with cheese in the mixture, and then just plain-ol garlic, salt and pepper for a few. With my fifth child, it was warm enough to grill, so my husband had easy meals he could help with, which made both of us feel great. The only other thing I had to have on hand was frozen veggies to pair with it, and maybe some fruit. My family does best with being gluten free, so getting a bunch of gluten free buns was the most expensive part of the proposition.

Postpartum tip!: Heme iron is very available to be absorbed via red meat, which was important to me in the postpartum time. Our energy levels tend to be better when we have more iron available to us — AND, postpartum mood issues are also linked to LOW iron — I wanted my iron to stay good in the postpartum time. Hence, all the meaty goodness.

A link with 100 hamburger recipes to get you started! 

Variations on a Theme, B:

Get Sauce-y!  This is a great option if you want protein flexibility to the max, like to use your slow-cooker, or have limited freezer space and want to purchase proteins/meats bit by bit, instead of a lot at once.

Buying or making sauces and freezing them is very easy, and very delicious. I have really loved using the slow-cooker recipes in the Trim Healthy Mama cookbook, but I’ve also looked up other recipes from time to time. Here is one post to get you started:

Second method up for discussion today?

Freezer Meal Workshop. I am a rep for an awesome company called Wildtree, which features freezer meal workshops, along with spice blends, sauces, and other products that are organic, preservative free, nut free, and many, many gluten free options available as well. I have helped (I would estimate) my clients create about 1,500+ freezer meals, through taking my workshops, since 2011! I think there are other companies out there that guide people through this, but I love the health and ease of Wildtree Foods!

When you purchase a Freezer Meal kit (one example shown above), you receive not only a detailed shopping list and preparation list, enabling you to make 10 freezer meals in about 90 minutes, but you receive preservative free, organic spice blends that you can use in a TON of other meals! You receive enough product to REPEAT the 10 meal creation process an additional time as well, so you’re really getting a lot of bang for your buck, and it’s EASY to put these meals together.

This solution gives you tools and ingredients without any ongoing cost, and also saves you time looking up recipes and lists.

I have hosted many freezer workshops over the past years, and as my doula and encapsulation services have taken more of my time, I’ve really been missing  these fun meal-creation parties. So, to help get the word out, for March and April 2017, please contact me via my form (Click ‘Contact’ above) to indicate if you’d like to order a freezer meal kit, and if you’d be interested in making the meals on your own, or with me! I’m offering a 20% discount to my kits for these months; I’d love to help you make easy, delicious, healthy meals to celebrate your postpartum time, or to bless another family who has just had a baby! You can check out all the amazing options here: 

So, with every freezer meal method, you have to balance: freezer space and your available resources (time:to look for recipes, to shop, to prepare the food, money: to shop, to purchase kits or meal plans/subscription plans, energy: how much do you and others in your life have to prepare these meals).

Next in the series, my FAVORITE method for creating freezer meals! Watch for it! And, the last part of my series: My Freezer Meal Consulting Option, new in April — I walk you through me assessing a client’s needs, and creating a custom plan just for them, based on their food preferences, budget, space, and resources. Contact me if you’d like me to do the same for you!

Freezer Meal Cooking: Postpartum Lifesaver!

This is Part 1 of a 4-part series! I LOVE freezer meals, and I love helping people navigate using this tool of freezing meals ahead of when Baby arrives – to make dinnertime nourishing, sane, and less stressful. Following the links may lead you to my affiliates, or blog sites that I like. If affiliates, I may receive a small commission if you purchase something — which will enable me to keep freezer cooking for MY family! Thanks!

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Have fun. Make meals with a friend.

I encourage my doula clients to plan for their postpartum time, just as they are planning for the birth. I like to use the reminder of planning for a wedding. It is a big day, exciting, one you’ll remember forever — but what about the rest of your life? Sometimes newly married couples experience some post-wedding, or post-honeymoon, blues. It is very real. And, new parents can experience this, too. The BIG EVENT of birth is over, and suddenly, Mom and Dad need to eat.

Enter Freezer Meals! (Sometimes my kids ask me if I had to choose one super power, what would it be? I tell them, besides making milk, my superpower IS – making freezer meals! They truly make me a more Super-Happy Mommy, because I don’t get quite so anxious about what-everybody’s-gonna-eat around-here! Level up!)

In this series, I’d love to talk about several subjects that I’m quite passionate about: healthy nutritious food, efficiency, budgeting, and process. Freezer meals are the epi-center around which these passions can easily revolve.

But first – Why freeze food? Which foods freeze well? and, How do I do this?

Having meals on hand that easily are re-heatable in a crockpot, stovetop skillet or oven can really be a sanity-saver in the early weeks/months of having a new baby in your house. Oftentimes, Baby needs to eat right when its time to cook. Or, Baby has a ‘fussy spell’ right around that time. Or, one or both parents is exhausted, so it’s McDonalds or take-out once again — which is hard on the budget, and not very nutritious in the long run. Freezer meals easily solve the question, “What’s for dinner?” in a way that is healthy, enjoyable, and much less stressful!

There are many things that freeze well – including rice, pasta, tortillas or quinoa (for a good carbohydrate for dinner), oatmeal and eggs (for breakfasts), soups and most veggies. There are some foods that are tricky to freeze, and some that really shouldn’t be frozen. I find that Extension Services have great information, and I’m linking one such list here, on safe, nutritious food freezing: http://nchfp.uga.edu/how/freeze/dont_freeze_foods.html

So, with those first two questions answered, how do you get started? I have tried MANY different ways/methods of freezer cooking over the past nearly 15 years. Here is a chart I came up with on the pros and cons of different methods that I’ve tried (and I’m sure there’s a few methods I haven’t tried!):

Method Description Pros Cons Resources/Tools

Cook for a Day, Eat for a Month, OR, Cook for a Day, Eat for Two Weeks

Maybe slightly misnamed, as it really is about a 2-3 day process. You’ll need to gather recipes, a shopping list and take a shopping trip, spend time prepping veggies and meats, and then have a day where you basically cook the entire day. You’ll make 20 – 30 meals, and could include breakfasts and lunches, too. A lot of effort in the day, but then you really don’t have to think about much, just reheating, for up to a month! A lot of effort in one day ( can be hard for pregnant moms – so enlist help!)!  Might not be doable for everyone’s budget. You can find books in the public library, online lists and resources (some free, some with minimal fees) to help you organize. You can also use online tools that are subscription based (see below). Because of the quantity, it’s helpful to have a food processor, but not strictly necessary (just will take longer without one!)
Double all the meals you’re making for 1 week, take the following week off At every supper, make two quantities of whatever you’re making – freeze the extra. You’re cooking anyway, might as well make 2! Pretty easy. Take next week off! You get a week off from cooking, but no more.  Not ideal for those who’d like a longer break. Use your favorite recipes, and have extra dishes/freezer bags on hand to put them away. I LOVE the online tool Once a Month Meals – check it out!
Attend a Freezer Meal Workshop (10 meals in 90 minutes) with me and Wildtree Foods. You’ll prep some ingredients, and receive some at your workshop. These are NON-cooking recipes (for the most part) so they are very easy prep. You’ll add organic, no-preservative, high quality spices and sauces to complete your meals, and have enough left over to repeat the 10 meals again on your own, with the benefit of the in-person training you’ve received. All the planning and thinking is done for you.  Budget friendly, Meals are tested nationally and only used in the workshops if they get good reviews. Many crockpot and skillet meals for easy reheating. Not a good fit it you’d like to choose different spice blends. If you would like to choose all spice blends yourself, this might not be a good fit. Recipes, shopping list, and some ingredients provided as part of the kit you purchase when you sign up to participate. Workshops can be hosted by an expectant mom as a shower as well, or to get friends together to cook (and if 6 friends attend, the new Mom’s kit is free). Though not necessary, this really neat tool is GREAT for filling freezer bags – it holds the bag while you fill it, no fuss, no muss: http://amzn.to/2liP3Jz

Contact me for more info!

Take 1-2 hours and make 6 variations of the same meal This works great for some favorites that are also flexible, like burgers with varieties of seasonings, meatballs, a casserole dish that is easy to double or triple (I plan to do part of this series with my favorite easy-doubling recipes, so watch for that!) Takes very little time or even advance planning. You can do this in just a couple hours, but it really pays off in less stress later. Can be budget friendly, as you can just do a session when an ingredient, for instance, chicken breasts, are on sale. If you like a ton of variety and don’t want to eat the same thing twice in 2 weeks, this might not be for you. As well as library and online lists, I’d again point to Once a Month Meals for some great ideas, as you can search by ingredient or type of recipe. **For all of the above, keep in mind you’ll need freezer-safe bags or dishes to freeze in, as well as the appropriate amount of freezer space. More on this (and pictures!) in a later post.

 

The next post includes 2 methods I Love. The 3rd post I plan to talk about my FAVORITE way to freezer cook! and my last post will feature a new service I will offer, Freezer Meal Consulting, new to Culture of Life Doula in April! Watch for all these posts, and FILL your FREEZER!

4 Tips for Your Postpartum Fitness Journey

Pregnancy and birth are journeys in themselves, and the postpartum time is no different. Often, moms are concerned about getting back into shape, and after ‘sharing’ your body with a growing baby for 40 + weeks, you’re eager to have yourself back. I wanted to share my top 4 tips for adding healthy movement into your life after Baby arrives.

Go Slow

Don’t rush your recovery. Gentle walks might be appropriate before six weeks, but training for a marathon or even a 3 or 5k isn’t!  Even the most athletic mothers who I’ve been a doula for, needed to wait that 6 weeks. Check out some Q and Z from ACOG about their recommendations.

Remember, six weeks is a minimum. The key is:  Listening to your body (a phrase I hope you got very acquainted with during pregnancy and birthing your baby!). And so, I repeat: Six weeks is a minimum. For me, a gentle hike in the woods at 8 weeks postpartum after my sixth was born started my postpartum bleeding again! Now, for some moms, this hike might have been no big deal. For me, it was too much, too fast. What did I do? I waited a couple more weeks until I attempted such a feat again. And, what’s more – I didn’t beat myself up about it (see third tip, but read the 2nd one, too).

Go Gentle

Your abdominal muscles, all of ’em, have really been through a lot! Even if you don’t have or suspect a diastisis recti, treat your tummy gently and safely. I have really benefited personally from Fit2B streaming online workouts. Not only could I do them in my own home, in my pajamas if I like, but they are all built around healing the core — a true healing, mind you, not one that just focuses on getting a six-pack ab look as quickly as possible (and think 6 packs are still cool? This article, or this one, might change your mind!).

Another set of muscles, connected to the core, is your pelvic floor. As the body changes during pregnancy, and your baby grows inside you, your pelvic floor experiences stress. Safe exercises that focus on core strength can’t help but benefit the seat or your core – which IS your pelvic floor. (Did you know that? I didn’t always know that connection!) The creator of Fit2B, Bethany Learn, has several pelvic floor routines, very gentle, and so affirming, for moms (or dads!). Read a lovely blog post from her by clicking here. You don’t HAVE to join the women who say that after they had a baby they couldn’t sneeze without leaking.  If gentle exercises aren’t giving you much improvement, though, consider seeing a Pelvic Floor physical therapist. Contact me for references in the Fargo, ND – Moorhead, MN area — they are here, and they can help!

Go Easy

Go easy on yourself. Make your fitness about more than burning calories. Make it about eating healthful calories, getting good sleep, and having realistic and affirming goals — for a good and happy LIFE. Whether your goal is to fit into your jeans again (try not to set a firm timeline!), or to be able to take a brisk walk without being winded, pay attention to YOUR goal, not to the goals (or accomplishments) of others. It can be very depressing if we measure our own goals by others’ goals. We are all different, and we’re all on our own journey towards our best selves. Be gentle with yourself. We can be happy for others, as we are happy when we meet our own goals, step by step.

Go Together

Don’t be fooled into thinking a gym membership is the only way to get fit after Baby is here, nor is high intensity and large amounts of time going to get you in shape faster. In fact, studies indicate that joining an expensive (and time consuming!) gym is not as likely to make you healthy or help you lose weight as some other slower-going, gentler options, which I’ll focus on below! While joining a gym can be some valuable ‘away time’ (which I want to talk about in another post!), in the early stages, especially if you are breastfeeding on demand, it might be really stressful for your and your baby. So, is there a way to involve your baby and family, and get some movement in your day?

Focusing on being strong in your daily movements. Squatting, reaching, stretching, core-aware movement is safe and healthy. Things like:  squatting to reach something off the floor, in a cupboard, getting up and down safely out of bed, off the rug where you’re playing with your Baby or Baby’s siblings, stretching as you pull a weed in the yard or garden, reaching for things off the shelves as you’re cooking, walking around your yard or block. Involve your Baby as you do squats while putting him to sleep, roll on the floor or crawl with her, while keeping your tummy tight. All these things keep you and your family together in that tender postpartum time, but also gives you a sense of confidence and courage as you move forward in postpartum fitness.  Katy Bowman of Nutritional Movement has some amazing articles, like this one, so go head to her site right now and read about some postpartum ideas that make fitness a natural part of life!

When you’re ready to burn some more calories, challenge yourself to think not in terms of total time all at once, but small intervals throughout the day — which can actually be more effective, actually, as well as realistic! This article could give you some ideas to start. For me, even just having a cheap-o pedometer (like the Omron HJ-321 Tri-Axis Alvita Pedometer, Black       which is the one I use) helped me think about getting in some more motion to my day.

The last aspect of going together is having an accountability partner. It could be your spouse, a friend, or even an online buddy. Reach out to someone who shares your goals, and set up a way to encourage, not race, each other. For myself and good girlfriend, we emailed once a week, striving to get in a minimum of 3 workouts. We set the bar reasonably, too. To count as a workout, we needed a total of at least 5 min, and didn’t specify it had to be cardio, anaerobic, etc. As we are Christians, we dedicated the three workouts to the Holy Trinity! Insert your own motivational idea that will spur you on to good health and happiness.

Sincerely,

Disclosure and DIsclaimer: As an affiliate of Fit2B, I do receive a commission if you should choose to join the online streaming Tummy-Safe workout program. However,  I am not paid to blog for Fit2B, and my opinions are my own. I’m also an Amazon Affiliate, and if you choose to purchase any of my recommended products, please know that I’m not paid to give a good review. I only include products I have personally used, and felt satisfied with. I’m not in the business of giving medical advice. Every situation is different, and please rely on your care provider and your own research as you make any decisions regarding health, fitness, and your unique pregnancy.

Hearts and Charts….

heartchart

In the last two posts, I’ve discussed what the process of encapsulation is, and what some of the reported benefits are. As a doula, I always encourage my clients to research the many choices they have as they move through pregnancy, birth, and beyond. So, why does placenta encapsulation put me with one foot in the world of research (that of charts), and one foot in the intuition of generations of mothers (that of the heart)?

As a placenta specialist, I am convinced that my service is completed in a safe and sanitary way, and I can in good conscience offer it to interested women. I advise them to be aware the of the risks and benefits, and that I can’t guarantee either. However, the moms who have chosen this route have responded positively, by and large, and that is something that, while the evidence cannot yet prove, it cannot yet disprove! Their intuition, and the tradition of perhaps centuries of women, led them not to discard their placenta as medical waste, but rather as a postpartum benefit to them, and through them, to their newborn child. (Did you know that all mammals regularly consume their placentas, except humans and camels?)

Opinion is a bit divided on exactly when placenta remedies began to be used, but it appears the earliest *written* record is in the 16th century (Young and Benyshek, 49). Medieval German texts call the placenta “mother’s bread” and various recipes relate on how to prepare it (Enning, 2).

Though called for by mothers, researchers, and birth professionals, current research in Western medicine on placentophagy is just not sizable – at all. There have been anecdotal studies (which I will link to below), there have been non-human mammalian studies, but no controlled studies until recently, the results of which are soon to be published (keep on eye on the University of Nevada – Las Vegas website, where results of the first controlled study are currently in the peer review process, as I understand.)

Where does that leave you in the choices you are free to make? Relating to me personally: I did not consume my placenta after my first four children were born. I had an abundant milk supply, and was blessed not to struggle with postpartum depression. After my fifth was born, I prepared my placenta in capsule form, and noted a marked difference. Less bleeding, more stable mood, and milk supply remained abundant (in fact, so abundant that, at three weeks, I achieved the benefit I thought the pills could give me, and I discontinued their use). That is just one anecdotal account — the one that drove me to offer this service.

I have worked with clients who struggled with both of these issues, among others, and were relieved, either in part, or entirely, from them. Some clients, while experiencing a benefit, still needed the support of additional medications, either for mood, or milk production.

Until more research is done and concluded, you may feel like me — we take what we can from the research, and the other part comes from intuition and tradition, and trust that the process is safe and sanitary and performed with due care.  Heart and Chart — they play a dual role in our decision making process.

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Research links:

From above: *In the journal Ecology of Food and Medicine, researchers from the University of Nevada – Las Vegas, surveyed close to 200 women who had chosen to consume their own placentas, in various forms. The response from the women’s self-reporting was overwhelmingly positive, with 76 % saying they experienced benefits, and few, if any side effects. The study’s authors summarized,

“Our survey participants generally reported some type of perceived benefit from the practice, felt that their postpartum experience with placentophagy was a positive one, and overwhelmingly indicated that they would engage in placentophagy again after subsequent pregnancies (UNLV research by Selander and Young).”

Enning, Cornelia (2007) Placenta: Gift of Life, MotherBaby Press, Eugene Oregon. 2007.

Young, Sharon; Benyshek, Daniel (2010). “In Search of Human Placentophagy: A Cross-Cultural Survey of Human Placenta Consumption, Disposal Practices, and Cultural Beliefs”. Ecology of Food and Nutrition (Taylor & Francis Online) 49

“Steamed, Dehydrated, or Raw”, article summarizing UNLV study, accessed at the following address: https://news.unlv.edu/article/steamed-dehydrated-or-raw-placentas-may-help-moms%E2%80%99-post-partum-health, June 23, 2015

Café Stir, http://thestir.cafemom.com/celebrity_moms/181421/celebrity_moms_ate_placenta, accessed June 16, 2015

Would you Eat Your Placenta? These Four women did. Originally appeared in http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/woman/health/health/4828468/Would-you-eat-your-placenta-All-of-these-women-did.html; accessed on July 23, 2015, via PlacentaWise.com

Placenta Pills Gain Fans, Tara Haelle, June 4, 2015. Accessed at: http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2015/06/04/411990944/placenta-pills-gain-fans-among-new-moms-but-benefits-are-elusive, on June 23rd, 2015

 

The Process of Encapsulation

Encapsulation

If you have read the previous post about reported benefits of my past encapsulation clients, you might be wondering about what the actual process is, and if you might complete it yourself. What are the benefits to having a placenta specialist, like me, prepare your placenta so you might experience the wonderful benefits postpartum?

Encapsulation on your own definitely can be done – I have done it! However, it does take time away from a postpartum mama’s most IMPORTANT work: resting and relaxing with her child and letting others care for her! (Not to mention getting breastfeeding well established, if that is the feeding method of choice).

However, as a placenta specialist now, I really recommend moms to check out area encapsulators. Ask questions about their practice, including knowing what their process is from start to finish.  Hiring a reputable and experience specialist takes the work off your hands.

Placentophogy, that is, consuming ones placenta, has been practiced in various cultures throughout child-bearing history. We in the US are starting to hear more about it (thanks Kim Kardashian! ;-)) and are curious.

Is this safe? Has it been studied? What are the risks and benefits? I will be addressing these question in my next placenta post.

But, back to process itself.  What are your first considerations with the option to encapsulate?

Well, the process begins during pregnancy. The service I provide to my encapsulation clients begins within filling out an initial form, which covers a few health related questions to ensure encapsulation is a reasonable and safe choice. It also covers basic contact information, as well as due date information. I am on-call for my clients from the time of signing of our agreement, and this includes payment and logistical arrangements. This includes providing a set of clear written instructions for keeping your placenta cool and safe until I arrive to pick it up from you. I also offer a cooler for this purpose, which my clients may opt to use (and I include my instructions and contact information within the cooler, so you don’t have to worry about printing an extra copy, when you already have other things to remember and focus on in this exciting time!). I also can provide guidance about talking with your care provider about your choice to encapsulate, if you have any questions.

When Baby arrives, my clients call or text me within the first 6 hours after birth, preferrably. I will make arrangements to pick up your placenta. If you’re in the hopsital, you will be asked to sign a release form before your placenta leaves. I generally ask Dad or another friend/family member to meet me in the lobby of the hospital. This leaves you free to rest and relax, which is so important!

My process of encapsulation begins with cleaning and sanitizing all my equipment. I have taken an OSHA-approved Blood Born Pathogen training, which includes the proper method to keep all my equipment, which is specific to my encapsulation service and is not used in any other way or for any other purpose, clean and safe for my clients. Even if I am processing multiple placentas within a short time frame, each client is assured that there is no cross-contamination as I only process one at a time, and my safety measures ensure sanitation is well-attended to.

Then, a gentle rinse of the placenta (and, if a tincture is desired, a small piece is removed and placed in the tincture bottle with quality grain alcohol). followed by steaming over a bed of sliced jalapeno, ginger, and lemon. The size of the placenta decreases by about half or more during this time. The placenta is removed, and the liquid can be strained and retained as ‘Mother’s Broth’, which has uses of its own. (See my ‘A La Carte Encapsulation options’ for options on small pieces for smoothies, tinctures, mothers broth, and more!)

After allowing time for cooling, I thinly slice the placenta, and it goes into the dehydrator. I periodically check for doneness until the placenta is fully dehydrated.

Again, allowing time for cooling first, then the placenta is ground into a fine powder. I hand-fill each capsule with care, and place them in a clean jar. Your jar is labeled with name and date, and a dosage pamphlet is provided for your guidance.

Though your capsules are now complete, my work is not done yet! I take care to thoroughly clean and sanitize my equipment before re-packing it for storage until my next client welcomes her Baby.

Finally, I deliver the capsules, and explain the general dosage guidelines. I am available for questions anytime via phone, text, or email.

I invite my clients to complete a short survey with their experience at some point, a number of weeks after their capsules are delivered. This information helps me learn and grow as a specialist! I remind my clients that I am not a medical professional, but that I am a reliable, clean, and safe specialist performing a wonderful postpartum service for mothers, the benefits of which can truly radiate to the whole family.

When Mama is happy, everyone is happy!

To see if I am available for your due date range, please contact me today!
Sincerely,

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Placenta Power

Placenta Power (1)

 

What is Placenta Encapsulation all about? Isn’t the placenta just a piece of medical waste, a bi-product of birth?

Traditional wisdom would inform us otherwise.

Though it remains a personal decision whether or not to ingest one’s placenta, there is a body of anecdotal and some research evidence that suggests great benefits to this long-standing practice or using the placenta in postpartum remedies.

Here are 5 reasons you might want to consider putting your placenta into capsules after your birth:

1. Increased energy/improved mood

Moms who ingest their placentas commonly report feeling happier, less apt to have wildly fluctuating moods, and better able to deal with the demands of motherhood+.

2. Less postpartum bleeding, aiding a faster recovery

Postpartum bleeding is reported to decrease+. That means more blood (and the nutrients, especially iron) staying in your body. That, in turn, aligns with number 1 – you feel more energized and happier.

3. Helpful to milk production/increase milk production

After your milk comes in, you can begin taking your capsules. They are believed to contain hormones that are beneficial to milk production. Mothers who have their placentas encapsulated typically report increased milk production+.

4. Improved iron levels

Iron is one nutrient we know is retained in the encapsulation process (among others). If your blood loss was slight or significant at the time of birth, the capsules can help. Mothers whose iron has decreased during pregnancy, which is not uncommon, have reported that their iron levels have increased steadily (again, see #1 – iron is very important!)

5. Good stewardship

The placenta is an amazing organ, a hand-crafted life support system for your baby, that can continue to nourish YOU, mama, after your little one arrives. Rather than discard it as waste, you can choose to encapsulate it, or there are other options to honor what your body created, such as planting the placenta under a tree or bush to commemorate you and your baby’s efforts and new life!

 

Is encapsulation right for you? Are you interested in the benefits above? I’d be happy to talk with you about the range of options available to you, all of which I can assist you with as your doula or placenta specialist.

Sincerely,

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+reported benefits of my past clients, and anecdotal reports from a survey of postpartum mothers. The research into encapsulation is ongoing, please talk with me about papers and studies you may be interested in reading as you make your informed decision. This post, and my services, are not intended to diagnose or treat any illness and condition. The benefits experienced are individual, and not guaranteed.

Why invite me to your birth?

differenceadoulamakesHaving a doula, like me, at your birth, provides many benefits: for mom and baby, and also for Dad/ Family/other loving Birth Partners (people who are supporting you through your birth journey).

If you’re reading this, then you’re at least CONSIDERING inviting a doula to your birth. Let me just say, “GOOD IDEA!”

Women who are attended by doulas at their births tend to have shorter labors, less need for routine AND surgical interventions, have a lessened sense of pain, and report greater satisfaction with their overall birth experience? (Source) My past clients have found great value in my support.

As a birth doula, I provide physical, emotional, and informational support throughout your pregnancy, birthing, and immediate postpartum time.  I am hired by and work for you – not the hospital or care provider.

I am a non-medical support person, and thus don’t perform medical tasks, give medical advice, or speak for you to the medical staff. I do, however, assist you in gathering information to make thoughtful, informed choices surrounding your birth and your baby.

I know you can birth your baby – I trust and believe in you. Through thoughtful planning for your memorable birth,  I will help you believe in yourself. I am there to support you and your chosen Birth Partner(s) every step of the way. I can encourage you to speak for your needs within the birth experience.

Area of Service

I primarily serve families in the Fargo, ND/Moorhead, MN area. I am able to accept clients outside of this area on a limited basis. When traveling more than 30 minutes outside of the area, a travel fee is added to my base fee. When you request a meeting with me, I do ask for information on where you plan to birth, so I can discuss any additional travel fee with you.

So, let’s meet! 

I provide a complimentary 1-Hour Consulation, via phone or over a cup of coffee or tea, to listen to your unique needs for your upcoming birth. With my expertise, I can help you map out a plan for your memorable birth. Contact me today!

In my next post, learn more about what you can expect when you engage a doula to serve you at your birth.

Sincerely,

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Save the Cheerleader…..Save birth?

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Those familiar with the sci-fi series “Heroes” will likely be the first ones to click through and read this post! But, jokes and cki-fi pop culture references aside, a doula is many things to a birthing mom and her support people: Cheerleader is just one. A doula believes in you, and your thoughtful wishes for the birth of your baby. In our prenatal meetings, we will talk about how I can best support you. As I visited with a mom prior to the birth of her third baby (and I was blessed to be at each birth as her doula!), I asked her, “Is there anything that really stands out to you, from your past experiences with me as part of the team, that you wouldn’t want me to forget to do?” Right away, she said, “If we did nothing else, I would want your verbal encouragement.” Having someone that at her core, believes in you, and your SuperAbility to birth your baby, is amazing.

On that note, I found two very encouraging blog posts that crossed my path this week, and I wanted to share them with you!

The first is an intriguing post, written by a registered nurse (RN) who works on the Labor and Delivery floor. She expressed the desire to help the patients she worked with through learning more about positioning and comfort measures — skills and information that were lacking in her training! She discovered that there was already a professional offering these services: a doula! Advantage #428 to having a doula at your birth: A doula is trained in comfort measures to help you through the birthing of your baby, and never leaves your side. The nurse in the blog post (listed below) lamented the fact that, due to shift changes, high patient volume, and (unfortunately) lack of training in comfort measures, she couldn’t support the birthing women in the same way as a doula. Some wonder (nurses and doctors included) if a doula takes the PLACE of the Labor/Delivery nurse, or MD. Not a chance. We have specific and DIFFERENT roles at your birth. Read here: http://taprootdoula.com/2014/11/12/how-doulas-could-save-birth-an-ld-nurses-manifesto/

The next post that caught my eye is one written by a new Dad. http://pregnancy.about.com/od/doula1/a/dads-and-doulas.htm

While originally thinking that a doula would be a ‘third wheel’ during the birth of his first child, he ended up being so “ra-ra doula” that he not only encouraged all dads and other birth partners to DEMAND a doula, but noted that for future births he absolutely didn’t want them to occur without a doula. He highlighted an aspect of doula support that other dads I’ve worked with note as well: Doulas make dad look good.

Each dad is different in the amount of ‘hands-on’ they feel comfortable with providing to mom. I have seen a wide range. Some dads would rather be the ‘drink runner’ and ‘hand holder’. Some are very hesitant in the hospital atmosphere in general. Some would love to do the double-hip squeeze, help with breathing, and many different supportive positions, but, like the dad notes in his post, he inconveniently forgot every. single. thing. he “should” have remembered from childbirth education class. Don’t worry – the doula has your back, and she will help you to participate at your comfort level – while helping to deepen the bond between mom and dad, and the other birth partners present. When I leave the birthing, I usually am leaving lots of love: Mom gazing at baby, Dad gazing at Mom, baby having his first snuggle time and breastfeeding session. Those gazes of love stay with me and encourage me to continue in the important work of being a doula.

Happy Reading!

*Are you looking for a cheerleader for YOUR upcoming birth? I have end of May openings, as well as June and August openings, and into Fall. Let’s have coffee sometime and see if I’d be a good complement to your birth team! Contact me today!  *