Category Archives: Natural Mommy

Fertility Diet and Eating for Two

I was lucky. I didn’t have a problem getting pregnant. My husband has only had to so much as sneeze at me twice and I’ve gotten pregnant (though unfortunately, my first time resulted in a miscarriage – the DNA just decided to be wonky). But unfortunately, for so many women, trying to conceive is not so easy.

My happy, healthy little guy

My happy, healthy little guy

Are you thinking about trying to get pregnant? Actively trying to get pregnant? Already pregnant? Nursing a baby? If so, you are hopefully watching what you eat. Your diet makes a HUGE difference in whether or not you will successfully conceive, as well as a HUGE difference in nourishing a pregnancy and a little one. If you’re dreaming of or looking down the barrel of motherhood (ha! That’s really a great comparison, actually), here is a list of foods that should make up the bulk of your diet – as well as some that you should be avoiding altogether.

Hopefully, by now, you’ve cut out fast food and processed food. If not, GET ON IT. These “foods” have no place in a healthy diet to begin with, much less a diet aiming for fertility and nourishment. In addition to the below list, make sure you’re getting plenty of sleep and cut out the stressors in your life.

Top 10 Fertility Foods

1.   Colorful fruits and vegetables: This should be no surprise. You know your fruits and veggies are good for you. By eating a variety of colors, as well as a hefty amount of leafy greens, you’re ensuring that you eat some quantity of very important vitamins and minerals – necessary for correct cell formation and reproductive function. Leafy greens, such as kale and spinach (**NOTE: iceberg lettuce does NOT count!) also contain a great amount of folate, vitamins A, C, and K, calcium, and potassium.

2.   FULL FAT dairy: NOT low-fat. NOT fat-free. NOT skim. Full fat – which in the very least means whole milk. Raw milk is absolutely superior to pasteurized whole milk, however, as it still contains the good fatty cream and the nutrients haven’t been zapped by the pasteurization process. If you don’t drink raw milk, at least opt for raw cheeses, and low-temperature pasteurized milk and cream. Your body NEEDS fat – especially when trying to conceive, growing a baby, and nursing a little one – to correctly put together cells and maintain proper hormone balances. Guess what – that little egg doesn’t leave the ovary unless there is sufficient fat content in the diet to maintain the correct balance of female hormones. Always make sure the dairy you’re buying is rBST-free, and try to make a farm visit to the farm where your milk is coming from. In addition to great healthy levels of saturated fat, dairy provides good levels of Vitamin D, enzymes for food absorption, vitamins A, K, and E, CLA (a fatty acid known to be a powerful antioxidant),  and calcium. Raw milk provides this vitamin D naturally, in a state that your body can easily absorb, while storebought whole milk has a synthetic form of vitamin D added. Some argue that the synthetic form is virtually useless as our bodies do not recognize it as easily as natural vitamin D.

3.   WILD-CAUGHT salmon: Salmon is a fantastic source of heart-healthy Omega-3 fatty acids, protein, selenium, DHA, vitamins D and B-12, and calcium. Omega-3 fatty acids and DHA are essential for brain cell formation. Always make sure your salmon is wild-caught – King, Sockeye, Coho, and Chinook salmon are the breeds you should look for. Alaskan is preferrable over Pacific, but both are usually wild-caught. Always avoid Atlantic salmon. Atlantic salmon is almost always farmed, and contains chemical contaminants such as PCBs and dioxins. It also has artificial color added (don’t believe me? Look on the label at the store!) and lower levels of all of the good nutrients listed above. Don’t worry about mercury levels in wild-caught salmon – they are very low. If you are still worried about it, don’t eat the skin and brown/gray meat near the skin.

4.   Coconut Oil: I know, I sound like a broken record. Coconut oil just has SO many benefits!

Everyone should have a big jar of this (not necessarily this brand) on the counter!

Everyone should have a big jar of this (not necessarily this brand) on the counter!

Coconut oil is a very healthy saturated fat, and you can use it to cook virtually anything – from frying, to sauteing, to using it in place of shortening for baking. Coconut strengthens the immune system and balances hormones for regulating blood sugar and the thyroid gland. It helps absorb fat-soluble vitamins in the other foods you eat and increases HDL (good) cholesterol in the blood. Cholesterol is essential for healthy cell formation.

5.   Eggs: Eggs are truly a superfood. Eggs have great levels of choline, which is necessary for stem cell proliferation and cell division. It helps in the formation of baby brain cells and even decreases baby’s (and yours!) levels of cortisol (the nasty stress hormone). Eggs also contain amino acids necessary for eye development, protein to build muscle, and are a fantastic source of several vitamins and minerals including A, D, E, B2, B6, B9, iron, calcium, and phosphorus!

6.   Grass-fed organ meats: I just heard the collective “yuck” from all of you reading. Hear me out. Organ meats – including liver, kidneys, and others – are very concentrated sources of vitamins, minerals, healthy fats, folate, and necessary amino acids. They are a power punch for fetal development. Yes – these organs filter toxins out of the body; but, they do not store them. Toxins are actually stored in the nervous system. Eating organ meat is not only safe, it’s extremely healthy. All of the nutrients found in organ meats are necessary for forming tissues, cell division, and maintaining mama’s reproductive health. If the thought of liver on a plate doesn’t sound appealing to you, try adding it in to dishes like steak and kidney pie, chili, dips, or soups.

7.   Pastured Meats: Protein, iron, B12, and healthy saturated fats are only some of the great ingredients in meat. Pastured meats always have higher concentrations of vitamins, minerals, and macronutrients than their confinement-raised counterparts. Good protein levels are SO important for blood production, bone and muscle development, and development of maternal cells in the uterus and placenta.

Confused about the difference between “pastured” and “grass-fed”? Grass-fed meats are just that – animals that eat grass. Pastured meats may or may not be “grass-fed”. For example, pastured cows are certainly eating grass. However, pastured poultry and pigs are not – these animals are not natural vegetarians. They are eating a mix of vegetation, insects, and even small amounts of protein. Pastured simply means these animals were raised in an environment that ensures both humane conditions for the animal, and optimal vitamin and mineral formation in the meat for you!

8.   Shellfish: Shellfish – fully cooked only when you’re pregnant! – are a fabulous source of iron, magnesium, and zinc, among other vitamins and minerals! Did you know that mollusks such as clams, oysters, and mussels contain more iron than red meat? Red blood cells don’t form without iron; adequate iron levels are crucial for a healthy pregnancy. Shellfish are also a great source of protein.

9.   Bone Broth: If you’re not yet familiar with this type of broth, now is the time to start looking into it. Bone broth is made by taking scrap bones (beef, chicken, whatever you like), roasting them, and then simmering them in a crock pot (with a Tbsp. or so of apple cider vinegar) for days until they shatter when you touch them. At this point, the majority of the minerals have leached out of the bones and into your broth. You can add bone broth to recipes in place of any broth or stock. You can also have a big hot mugful of broth when you wake up or when you wind down. Bone broth is concentrated with vitamins and minerals such as calcium, silicon, sulfer, magnesium, animo acids, and antioxidants – all necessary for healthy fetal development.

10.   Nuts: When you’re pregnant or nursing and you’re CONSTANTLY hungry (mm… a snack sounds pretty good right now), nuts are a fantastic snack. Nuts are power packed with protein, healthy fatty acids, fiber, and vitamin E. The nutrients in nuts help your baby’s blood vessels develop properly, ensure proper heart development, and build the immune system.

So What’s on the DO NOT EAT List?

crying baby

1.   Low-fat or fat-free ANYTHING: Low fat and fat free are simply terms that mean “we have removed all of the healthy fatty acids from these products and instead replaced them with sugar or artificial sweeteners and lots of chemical additives to trick your body into thinking they still taste good. Whether trying to conceive or not, don’t ever put these products in your shopping cart.  

2.   Refined Flours: There is really no redeeming nutritional value from refined flours, and they result in a big spike to your blood sugar and irritation to the gut lining.

3.   Sugar: We have really started to realize how detrimental sugar is to our health in the past few years. Sugar – especially refined sugars like HF corn syrup, white sugar, and brown sugar – puts extra stress on your pancreas, liver and kidneys, causes low-level inflammation of the gut and raises blood pressure. A sweet every now and then won’t kill you (believe me, I have one heck of a sweet tooth that I fight with daily), but especially during the period of time when you’re trying to conceive or nurture a growing baby, it’s best to lay off the sweets.

4.   Soy: This “health” food has been touted by the industry for a long time as an alternative to meat protein for one reason and one reason only – it’s cheap to produce and they want to sell you cheap food. The truth about soy is actually very sinister. Soy directly disrupts the female reproductive cycle by interfering with the production of estrogen. This includes soy in all non-fermented forms – edemame, soy extracts in processed products, tofu, lecithin, soybean oil, etc. Soy is also toxic to the placenta and can interfere with nutrient absorption to the fetus and even contribute to birth defects. Your man isn’t immune from soy’s effects either –  when men eat soy, estrogen levels increase and may negatively effect sperm production.

5.   Vegetable Oils/Shortening: Oils such as canola, soy, corn, safflower, and sunflower are high in Omega-6 fatty acids. These oils are largely responsible for heart disease. In the woman who is trying to conceive or the mama nourishing a baby, these rancid oils can interfere with proper formation of the circulatory system and interfere with cellular processes at the DNA/RNA level.

6.   Artificial Colors/Flavors: These chemical concoctions interrupt adrenal function, cause chromosomal changes, and damage DNA. Flat out – they are nasty. Avoid them at all costs. If you’d like to read some in-depth information about artificial colors, this article contains great data: Rainbow of Risks

The fact is that if you’re not at optimum health, your baby won’t be either. We all go through phases, especially when actually pregnant (I, myself, had a very humiliating Taco Bell phase that lasted a couple weeks when I was pregnant with my son). Don’t beat yourself up over those. However, especially if you’re trying to conceive, now is the time to get started on a healthier diet for fertility and healthy baby development.

If you’re interested in learning more about how a traditional diet can help you conceive or nourish a growing baby, I’d strongly recommend picking up a copy of the Nourishing Traditions cookbook. Also, check out these resources from some other bloggers that I love:

Beautiful Babies E-Course by Kristin Michaelis (Food Renegade):

beautiful babies

Holistic Squid Fertility Page

Feeding Your Tot and Your Wallet

Large brand baby food jarred butternut squash - $1.19

Large brand baby food jarred butternut squash – $1.19

Which do you choose to feed your little one?

Actual butternut squash - $1.99

Actual butternut squash – $1.99

If you’re one of the many moms that feed jarred baby food (even organic), you may want to reconsider. In addition to being simple, making homemade baby food has several other advantages.

1) It’s cheaper. Compare the two pictures above. You can pay roughly 80 cents more for a whole butternut squash as you can for one small jar of baby food, and the squash will make at least quadruple the amount of food!

2) It’s fresher! How long has the jarred food actually been in the jar? Oh, they don’t give you a date? That’s probably because they don’t want you to know exactly when it was packed. By making your own, you know just when that food was cooked and pureed. If you grow your own, you even know when it ripened and that no nasties were sprayed on it!

3) No BPA (or BPS, or whatever the industry decides to call it these days in order to label it BPA-free). Baby food jar lids, and even some of the squeeze pouches are lined with BPA. If you haven’t done your research on this awful chemical, it’s been linked to cancers and reproductive problems. Unfortunately, companies that are now advertising BPA-free packaging or toys are only replacing the BPA with a chemical known as BPS… and from early research it looks like BPS is actually worse than BPA. By making your own and freezing in silicone trays (early research seems to put silicone in the clear), you’re avoiding that nasty BPA.

4) Did I mention it’s cheaper?!

I freeze my little ones meals in a silicone tray from Green Sprouts. When he goes to the babysitter, I simply pop out a cube or two of food and put them in a container! Look at the yummy, colorful foods he has to look forward to this week!

baby food1

More on first foods:

Most mainstream pediatricians have bought into the “give rice cereal in a bottle as a first food” hype. Well, I’m not exactly telling you not to listen, but I will tell you that I did not listen. Baby cereals are lacking in nutritional value (the one redeeming quality is perhaps the iron fortification), cause a spike in blood sugar levels if eaten alone, and are difficult for little tummies to digest. Instead, start with vitamin and mineral-rich first foods, cooked (if necessary), pureed, and thinned if need be with a little breastmilk. My son’s first foods (all organic) were: sweet potatoes, sweet peas, carrots, butternut squash, bananas, apples (yep, with cinnamon), peaches, pastured egg yolk and avocado. Our one exception to the cereal rule was steel cut (slow cooking) oats. I also add a little bit of pastured butter to my boy’s veggies when I puree them because butter significantly increases mineral absorption. However, if your little one is sensitive to cow dairy at this point (and many babies are before the age of 1), you should probably omit the butter.

*Fun fact: Canada recommends meat as baby’s first food!

Did you follow the cereal rule? If so, would you do it again? If not, what yummy foods did your little one first try?

Are You Microwaving Your Baby?

Good. I have your attention. Would you purposely sit your baby or toddler in front of the microwave for 8 hours straight? What about 24 hours straight? The answer is probably an overwhelming “Of course not!” Why? Because we know that there is a risk associated with the microwave radiation coming from our microwaves. If you’re like me, you attempt to use it as little as possible, and when you do use it, you stand away from it. But is that enough to keep your family safe?

If you are one of the many parents concerned about radiation exposure, chances are the answer is no. A typical microwave emits about 2450 MHz or 2.45 GHz of radiation. Now, let’s take a look at the average household. There is a good possibility that at least two cell phones are constantly in the house, and constantly turned on. Each cell phone runs on a frequency of between 700-2100 MHz. Most of us have WiFi – which is also usually always turned on. An average WiFi system can run on a frequency of anywhere from 300 MHz up to 300 GHz. These two sources of radiation probably come as no surprise to you.

One that may come as a surprise is your baby monitor. My little bundle got one of the best baby monitors I could find. It was a digital sound monitor. It gave the room temperature of his nursery and everything! After looking into it one day, I realized that this digital monitor utilized a frequency of 2.4 GHz. This is a standard amount for digital baby monitors. Not to mention, that you probably place the baby monitor (like I did) right next to the little one so you can hear every sound he/she makes. This brings the radiation ever closer to baby’s brain.

So let’s add all of this up:

2 Cell phones (24 hours per day): 1.4 GHz (average)

1 WiFi system (24 hours per day): 150 GHz (average)

Baby monitor (8 hours per day): 2.4 GHz

This amount of radiation adds up to an average of over 62 times the amount of radiation emitted from your microwave! Even subtracting the most dangerous element – the WiFi –you’re still at least doubling the amount of radiation coming from your microwave. This is obviously a worst case scenario – provided you have all of your dangerous devices close to you in the same room. One reader pointed out that the distance you are from these devices has a very large impact on exactly how dangerous they are and that is absolutely true.

However, these numbers are no doubt as troubling to you as they were to me. In this technology age, what is a parent to do? Get rid of internet and cell phones? Likely not (though that would be ideal). Here are some changes you can make TODAY to reduce the amount of radiation your baby is being exposed to:

1. TURN OFF your WiFi when you’re not using it. Ours takes less than a minute to come back on. This is a very, very minor inconvenience.

2. Turn off your cell phones when you’re able – or at least when you sleep. Or turn off even one cell phone when you sleep. Do not sleep with your cell phone beside your head.

3. Get a landline. I know. Stone age, right? However, a regular cordless phone emits an average of 900 MHz – significantly less than your cell phone.

4. Get rid of that digital cadillac-esque baby monitor and exchange it for an analog monitor. Our analog monitor runs on 49 MHz. Yes, there is a little bit more interference if you don’t set it up in the right spot. However, that trade off was certainly worth it for me. Move the baby monitor away from baby’s head.

We don’t conclusively know exactly how radiation affects the body, but it has certainly been linked to tumor growth in animals. Chances are that it’s leading to tumor growth in humans too – as of course, we are part of the animal world. Don’t take that chance with your baby or the rest of your family. Cut back on radiation today.

“Do Not Remove This Tag Under Penalty of Law”

We have all seen this language on the tags of our couches, our mattresses, or our pillows and probably giggled about it at some point. Why in the world would people be worried about what’s on the tag? When it comes to your baby stuff, there is at least one good reason to be concerned about what’s on that tag. That reason is California Technical Bulletin 117. To the lay person, this sounds like gobbledy-gook semantics. When you start looking into CA TB 117, the language becomes much more sinister. Bear with me here; this is an important post if you have or will soon have baby stuff in your home.

The State of California Bureau of Home Furnishings and Thermal Insulation issued TB 117 in March of 2000. If you’d like to read it (it’s not a fun or easy read, but it is only 8 pages), you can find it here. To try and simplify it, “home furnishings” sold in the State of California must pass a flame resistant test. This almost always means that chemical flame retardants are added to the inside fillers or outside coverings of home furnishings that are able to be sold in the state of California. Flame retardant use became widespread in the 70’s when smoking was at an all-time high in the United States and dropped cigarettes were responsible for a large number of house fires. At this time, manufacturers of baby pajamas began coating them in flame retardant chemicals. After an outcry from the public, this practice was mostly discontinued in the 80’s. The use of flame retardants plateaued until… California TB 117.TB 117

Because California is such a large market, “home furnishings” manufacturers decided that it was worth it to comply with California rules. You’ll notice that I keep putting “home furnishings” in quotation marks. Why? Because the definition is very liberal. While you’re probably not surprised that your nursery glider and your couch qualify as home furnishings, did you know that your nursing pillow does as well? Your baby activity mat? Your baby play gym?

But isn’t flame retardant good? Doesn’t it keep my baby safe? Nope. In addition to the toxic, cancer-causing, reproductive system-hindering chemicals that make up the flame retardant formula, there is NO PROOF that these flame retardants work. Several sources (one can be found here, and here) have concluded that even materials treated with flame retardants catch on fire just as quickly and burn just as easily as those that are not treated.

Won’t flame retardants off-gas quickly and become a non-issue as the product gets older? Nope. In fact, materials treated with flame retardants become MORE dangerous over time as the dust flakes off of the materials and you breathe it in.

Now, I’m not saying that everything you have for your baby is doused in a flame retardant. Some companies found a natural way to meet CA TB 117 (Boppy is one of those companies) and used different materials that are naturally flame resistant. Other companies have refused to cater to California. That said, if you’re shopping at a large box store (and I’m guilty too), READ that tag! If it says anything about meeting CA TB 117 standards, either run away and get another product or double check with the company that manufactures that product to ensure that the fire resistant qualities are a natural part of the fiber.

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