Red Raspberry Leaf Tea for Labour Preparation

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Labour

Contractions

Dilation

To Epidural or Not to Epidural?

These are all the words that go through my head every single day. Usually the thought train starts off much more positively, when I feel the little guy/gal squirm inside or when I have yet another strange craving that I must satisfy. Then it inevitably goes towards D-Day and wondering what the contractions will feel like and whether I’m going to be a screamer or just close my eyes and stay in my own little cervix dilating world. Will there be an epidural involved? Will there be an emergency C-section?

I will not know until the day it actually all goes down. In fact, nobody knows HOW it’s going to go down, but the one thing that is certain is that It Will Go Down. And about 24 hours later, there will be this whole other human being, slimy and pinkish grey, attached to you by a cord, and now your responsibility for the rest of your life.

How crazy is that?

So, to offset the anxiety about D-Day, the one thing that I try to do every single day is to prepare for labour. And what better way to prepare than to take care of one’s uterus? After all, it is the uterine muscles that are doing most of the work, contracting upwards to dilate the cervix and contracting downwards to push the little sucker out. The stronger the muscles, the more efficient each contraction and hopefully, Goddess willing, a little quicker (and maybe less painful?) the whole experience.

Which brings me to Red Raspberry Leaf Tea. I ordered a sh*t ton of this stuff, along with nettle leaf tea, in order to make myself a nice cuppa uterine-contracting-superjuice every single day. Some resources say that one can drink this every single day during the whole pregnancy, as there are no real contraindications with red raspberry leaf or with nettle. They are both high in iron, magnesium, calcium, B vitamins, Vitamin A, Folic Acid, Vitamin C…just to name a few, which is great for mommy and growing baby. Other more conservative sources say that because they are uterine tonics, that they should only be started after the 18th week as they could cause uterine contractions. I say use your instincts and go with what you think is right. I have been drinking this stuff since about the 8th week of pregnancy and so far so good. Also, I’m hoping that all of those stories that I’ve read about women who drank this throughout their labour and pregnancy had very short labours and almost painless birthing experiences.

One can hope, right?

Since it’s summer, I’ve started making pots and pots of this on the stove top, then filtering it through a sieve into a large glass jar and putting it in the fridge so that i have a nice cold glass of iced infusion every day. It’s been delicious.

Oh – and I combined raspberry leaf and nettle leaf which I found did help with the nausea towards the end of the first trimester. It also helped to give me the needed vitamins and minerals I needed since I wasn’t eating that much for the first 15 weeks (read about my first trimester experiences here) and mixed in with a little honey, it tastes great and is very very refreshing, hot or cold.

RECIPE RED RASPBERRY LEAF AND NETTLE LEAF TEA

6-8 cups water

6-8 teaspoons of red raspberry leaf, 4-5 teaspoons of nettle leaf

Bring water to a boil, then take off heat.

Throw in the herbs and cover to let steep for at least 30 minutes

Stir in some honey if you want, although I find that it tastes nice both with and without.

Drink hot, or sieve through and pour into glass jar (mason jar, re-used juice jar) and place in the fridge.

Enjoy 1 cup a day for the first trimester

Starting at about 18 weeks you can have 2 cups a day.

From about 30 weeks you can increase to 3-4 cups a day in order to prepare for labour

Fermented Foods Saved My Poop!

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They say that when you become pregnant, the foods that you crave are the foods that you grew up with – Comfort Foods. For me, growing up my dining experience was very much a Korean one, with rice being the staple (of course) and then a myriad of dishes, from spicy fish stews to oxtail soup, various types of kimchi and marinated greens, rice cakes and quail eggs, pickled root vegetables and salted fish eggs. When I was younger, bringing friends around for dinner was a mix between awkward and educational – luckily for me my friends were curious and adventurous enough to want to try these weird and wonderful new dishes and my mother is an excellent cook, so regardless of how exotic the flavour combinations may have been, they were always delicious.

The first trimester was horrible for me, to be completely honest. I could only really stomach pineapples and lemons, but now that I have passed (for the most part) the nausea, the cravings have started to take hold of my daily meal requirements. The biggest challenge for me was to satisfy my Korean Food cravings. Living in central France, where even finding tofu can be a bit of a scavenger hunt, trying to procure the ingredients to recreate any of my mother’s Korean dishes was impossible.  Luckily, my parents sent me a care package with the needed ingredients to make many of my favourite Korean dishes, and my lovely friends in London sent me a care package with some of the essentials. Namely – KIMCHI.

Kimchi is a fermented cabbage dish that is a side to every single Korean meal. It’s as important (maybe more so) than the rice. This spicy, crunchy condiment is traditionally made of napa cabbage, hot Korean chili flakes, garlic (lots and lots of garlic), salt and fermented shrimp. Mix it all together in a glass bowl, preserve in a glass jar and allow it to ferment for a few days (or weeks – whatever your fancy) et voila – a delicious, stinky, spicy side to your meals.

Kimchi is a fermented food which means that it contains the prebiotics and the probiotics that your gut needs in order to function optimally. The raw garlic acts as a antimicrobial systemically and the dish is a great source of fiber as well. All in all, kimchi is a panacea for many digestive problems, and let me tell ya – it solved my pregnancy constipation in a pinch!!

My favourite dish is Kimchi Jjigae, which is a Kimchi Stew. I took a picture of it which is at the top of this post, and a hot bowl of this with a bowl of rice was Just the thing that I needed to satisfy my craving AND solve my constipation issues all in one go! If you are a kimchi lover like I am (and like a growing population of the world is, given the number of Korean Fusion pop up restaurants and the success of the Momofuku restaurant empire in NYC, Toronto and beyond…) then this simple stew is right up your alley. It’s simple, it’s healthy, it’s filling AND it’s great for your gastrointestinal tract.

RECIPE KIMCHI JJIGAE

200g Pork Belly (you can replace this with 1-2 cans of tuna if you wish)

4 – 5 cups of chopped Kimchi (home made or store bought – use the juice as well!)

1 heaping tsp of Korean Red Pepper Paste

1 tsp of sugar (Can use maple syrup as well)

2 -3 cups of water (depends how concentrated you want the stew)

1/2 package of tofu chopped into chunks

Spring onions chopped

In large pot, throw in the kimchi, the water, the pork belly, the sugar, the red pepper paste and the water.

Bring to a boil then lower it down to a simmer.

Let simmer half covered for about 30-45 minutes.

At the last minute, add the tofu and spring onions before serving.

Eat with rice.

Poo like a champ.

mmmmmm……

Things They Do Not Tell You About Being Pregnant

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It has been a Very long time since my last post and I swear to Goddess that there is a very very good reason for this all. In fact, the image itself should probably give you a very good idea as to what has been going on with me (or at least, IN me) for the past 16 weeks and I thought I would dedicate this post to all of the things that I learned about the Miracle of Pregnancy.

First off, let me preface this by saying that I am (We are) thrilled. This was a long journey and as a naturopath who specialises in fertility and female hormonal issues, it was definitely a kick in the box to struggle with my own issues. There were months of temperature taking and cervical mucous monitering and miscarriages – let’s not forget the miscarriages. It is liberating to say it out loud as the shame that I held onto for the past couple of years was unbearable. How can a yoga-ing, organic-food eating, supplement popping, meditating naturopath Not be able to conceive at the drop of a hat (or panties for that matter!) or worse – not be able to hold onto a pregnancy? How was my body failing me even though I was doing everything Right?

I started to lose faith in myself as a naturopath and there was a point where I wondered about Natural Medicine as a whole and if it was failing me and my body, was it something that I wanted to continue to practice? There was just so much entangled in my fertility journey that not only encompassed my skills as a naturopath, but my faith in my own body to be able to heal itself, or at least know what was best, which is one of the main tenets of Naturopathic Medicine. Let Your Body Heal Itself.

I suppose that is why they say it is Darkest before the Dawn (or some shit like that) and I finally stopped trying to control my own treatment plan and I passed the buck onto a couple of my naturopathic colleagues and friends, who supplied me with their own course of action. I separated my Naturopathic Doctor self from my Hannah as a Woman self and gave the reins to someone else. Perhaps it was that switch in my own paradigm, perhaps it was the new regimen I placed myself on, perhaps it was the trip to India – who f*&king knows. But here I am, 16 weeks later in my 2nd trimester and I am still a little in disbelief that there is this little thing (that frankly, looks like an Alien…a very large headed alien…) inside my body. So…I guess my body really did know. I just had to trust that no matter what, baby or no baby, things would just kinda work themselves out. I believe that is the real goal of Naturopathic Medicine.

Now that I’m ”Out of the Woods” and I received a ”Low Risk for Trisomy” (which is a whole other experience that I will write about later and think is a load of crap designed to stress women over the age of 35 out) I thought that I would enlighten all of you about-to-get-knocked-up ladies and fellow pregnant women with the things that I learned about the First Trimester that everyone tries to Sugar Coat.

1) Morning Sickness. Yes. It SUCKS. I had it 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for the first 10 weeks of pregnancy. It would wake me up in the middle of the night. My experience was that I never actually vomited, although I sometimes prayed to the heavens that I would. At least it would feel like something would MOVE or that I would feel some temporary relief. It was constant, relentless, and you know that excess salivation that you get right before you upchuck? Yup – it was like that, but with no vomiting, no relief. And no, the candies and mints and Pericardium 6 (Seaband acupressure point) did dick-all. Ginger tea helped slightly, but i think it was more the hot water that would wash the saliva down my throat whilst burning my tongue at the same time that distracted me, momentarily, from the nausea. By the 12th week, it had lessened to 3 intense hours of dry-heaving between 6pm and 9pm, and now I only experience it if I’m hungry. So…I guess it’s better.

2) Headaches. Yes. Combined with the morning sickness and salivation, it’s pretty much like a horrible, Absinthe induced hangover for 3 months straight. Your head pounds, the dry heaves increase the pain, the heightened sense of smell only makes both the nausea AND the headaches worse. And of course they say you can’t take any painkillers for it (other than Acetaminophen, which as a stupid Naturopath I did not have any lying around the house) so the only thing I could do was lie in the dark, completely still. That was awesome.

3) Heightened Sense of Smell. If they could somehow recreate this superpower in sommaliers and coffee connoisseurs, there would be a helluva lot more than ”hints of lavendar” and ”notes of limestone minerality” on descriptive labels. I swear I could smell molecules fusing and breaking apart. Water smelled strange (horrible, nausea-inducing) and if my husband even tried to speak to me in the morning without brushing his teeth, there was usually a pillow smushed into his face. I swear I could smell people’s emotions from a block away. And it all made me want to barf.

4) Fatigue. Have you seen My Own Private Idaho? The narcoleptic? Enough Said.

5) Constipation. I am a regular pooper. I take pride in the fact that my bowels move regularly and healthily. Two to three times a day. I love to poop. I rarely, if ever, experience constipation. I am not poop-shy. I can poop in restaurants, bars, friend’s houses, port-o-potties – I hate to deny my body the pleasure of a poop. Pregnancy has denied me this for about 16 weeks now. And I don’t want to strain because I worry I will squeeze the baby out or get hemerrhoids. It’s a catch-22. It also leads to headaches.

6) Horrendous Farts. This is probably related to number 5 above. Pregnancy makes your digestion slow down so that all the nutrients can go to the baby. This makes you constipated, which then allows the gas to just hang around in your bowels around the already festering, fermenting, rotting, hardening constipation-causing poop. The gas that results? Warfare. Weapon of War. Plain and Simple. And then it makes you want to vomit and worsens the headaches. Combined with the sensitive nose, it’s enough to give you nosebleeds. Seriously.

7) Complete and Utter Paranoia. The pregnancy industry FEEDS on the fear. The medical industry does nothing to assuage it, instead choosing to treat pregnancy as a disease, rather than a completely natural state. Our world is a strange place in which to be a woman. Society pressures you into getting pregnant or making you feel as though there is something wrong or missing if you do not want to have children. Then the minute you get yourself knocked up, thereby fulfilling the ”one true role” of being a female (don’t get me started…) they guilt you and scare you and essentially make you feel as though you have now just made the worst decision of your life. Don’t eat this, do you have enough of that, stay away from bicycles and mountains and animals and public transportation and definitely do not lift a dumb bell but you can lift a toddler (which is heavier than a dumb bell…) and oh my GOD have you not taken your folic acid? Your baby is definitely going to have cleft palate or spina bifida or a chromosomal abnormality or be more prone to behavioural disorders. And being over the age of 35 suddenly puts you into the ”more likely to have a dead baby” and ”probably get diabetes or high blood pressure or placenta previa” category which does nothing to actually allow you to relax and Enjoy the pregnancy, something that is already hard to do when you’re suffering from numbers 1-6 on the list.

….But I hear it’s all going to be worth it in the end.

Am I right?

Guys?

Botanical and Herbal Medicine

Botanical Medicine is the use of plant parts (roots, stems, fruit, seeds and leaves) to help support the body’s physiological functions in the healing process. Plant medicines come in various forms, such as pills, teas, creams and tinctures. They are an effective and gentle way to treat many conditions from pain management to hormonal imbalances to skin conditions. Because many prescription medicines are actually synthetic forms of compounds naturally occurring in nature, there is the risk of botanical medicines reacting quite adversely with prescription drugs. Therefore it is very important to get professional advice from a practitioner who is trained in the science of botanical medicines to ensure safe and effective results from the plants.

Acupuncture

Acupuncture is the insertion of fine needles into the surface of the body, influencing the physiological functioning of the body.  It is based on Traditional Chinese Medicine theories, however from a Western perspective, it is thought to enhance the body’s ability to heal by releasing Enkephalins (pain killing substances) and Endorphins (mood elevating substances) and stimulating the immune system.  Acupuncture is especially effective for pain-related conditions such as headaches, PMS symptoms, joint or musculoskeletal pain, and athletic injuries.  It is most effective in combination with Eastern Herbal Combinations – the right one will be discussed with the Naturopath.

There is an initial appointment of 1.5 hours to take your full medical history, and each subsequent acupuncture treatment is about 30 minutes in length.

Lifestyle Counseling

With every nutritional regime, homeopathic consultation, acupuncture session or botanical prescription, external factors on your health such as your lifestyle, occupation, family, relationships and other stressors play a very large role in your quest for wellness.  Naturopaths take this into account, as it is these external lifestyle factors that make you an individual, unique from every other client.  Wholistic health is not solely about what you eat – it is also about how you live, how you love yourself and others, how you deal with stress… your lifestyle has a direct and paramount impact on your health.  We are here to help you achieve health and wellness through body, mind and soul.

Maternity Leave

Hello Everyone!

I know – it’s been far too long since my last health post, but I have a very good reason – I am now currently on Maternity Leave as we have welcomed our baby daughter into the world.

I will keep posting a few health tidbits here and there, although many of them may be baby and post-labour recovery related for all the new (and not-new) mothers and fathers out there.

Please do check in often, or sign up to my mailing list so as not to miss out on new recipes, health advice or DIY non-toxic products for your health, beauty and home!

Happy 2015 Everyone

Much Love and Light