Archive for April, 2012

Could that green smoothie be reducing your milk supply?

You may have heard of some of the herbs which increase milk supply – herbs like the ones included in our More Milk Plus and More Milk Special Blend.

But did you know that there are herbs which reduce your milk supply?  Here are a few to be aware of:*

  • Peppermint.  According to the Nursing Mother’s Herbal, some forms of peppermint are more effective than others at reducing milk supply.  Peppermint tea isn’t thought to have much impact, but foods with peppermint oil (and a higher concentration of menthol), including some mints, may affect milk supply.
  • Sage.  The Nursing Mother’s Herbal says sage is “almost legendary for lowering milk supply,” and is the herb of choice for reducing supply during weaning.
  • Parsley.  The Nursing Mother’s Herbal states that mothers sometimes notice a decrease in supply after “feasting on tabouleh for several days,” and notes that parsley juice and tablets also have caused declines in supply.

Like galactagogues, these herbs have a greater effect on milk supply when eaten regularly in large or concentrated amounts, so a parsley garnish or a sprinkle of sage isn’t likely to do much harm.

But sometimes these herbs appear in concentrated amounts in places you wouldn’t expect, like green drinks and smoothies, mints, and even Thanksgiving stuffing.  There are many recipes for green smoothies which contain parsley, which is an otherwise wonderfully nutritious herb.  As noted above, tabouleh can also contain a lot of parsley.  Mints made with peppermint oil may contain enough menthol to affect supply if eaten regularly.  And Thanksgiving stuffing is often made with sage, and many of us eat leftover stuffing for days after the holiday.

So, while breastfeeding we encourage you to eat foods containing these ingredients in moderation.  If you are having difficulty with milk supply you may want to avoid them altogether.

*This information is provided for educational purposes only, and is not intended as medical advice.

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Great gardening books for kids of all ages

Books are a fun way to introduce kids to the joys of gardening, and there are more and more beautiful ones to share.   We compiled some favorite books below for kids of different ages.  Feel free to add your own favorites in the comments!

For the youngest readers (0-2)

Planting a Rainbow by Lois Ehlert is a classic for young readers.  It teaches about how plants grow while also teaching the names of colors.  It includes a special section reminiscent of The Very Hungry Caterpillar. If you want to plant your very own rainbow, visit a nursery or online organic seed catalog, and choose colorful vegetables and flowers for each color, then plant in the rainbow pattern. Kids will have fun watching the rainbow take shape. Follow the theme with rainbow crafts from recycled/upcycled objects.

My Garden/Mi Jardin by Rebecca Emberley is a bilingual book for toddlers with bold, colorful illustrations and simple text introducing kids to gardening vocabulary in English and Spanish.


For preschool-aged kids

In Jo MacDonald Had a Farm (Mary Quattlebaum) kids can sing along with the familiar song, but with lyrics which teach about garden and the creatures that make them flourish.  And kids can watch one mysterious plant to see what it will become. Since the book talks about how butterflies, bees and birds help a garden, consider planting some butterfly-friendly plants.

My Garden by Kevin Henkes features the author’s signature bold and vibrant illustrations in a story about growing tomatoes as big as beach balls, flowers that change color, and other fanciful crops.  Preschoolers are old enough for experiments to find what plants need to grow. Plant seeds in a dozen or so equal containers (this is an excellent time to recycle!) and put one in the light, one in the dark. One gets water, one does not. And so on.

An older book but a favorite is Ten Seeds (Ruth Brown), a wordless book which shows what happens to ten seeds planted by a young boy.  One by one they fall prey to birds, mice, and other hazards, until one seed is left.  This seed grows into a sunflower, which drops ten more seeds, starting the cycle over again. Sunflowers are fun to grow, and they come in many varieties. You can harvest seeds from most fruits and vegetables, as you prepare meals, let your preschooler plant the seeds and see which grow best. Keep a scrapbook of pictures of how the seeds germinate (or not) and foster simple discussions about climate zones, what grows best in your area, and what to plant next year.



For early elementary aged kids

In Secrets of the Garden (Kathleen Weidner Zoehfeld), a girl reports all she sees about how her family’s garden grows, including the insects that eat the plants and the birds that eat the insects, allowing kids to see the food chain in this little habitat. Talk about organic gardening and pest control without chemicals, and explain how chemicals get into our food. Using photosynthesis (explained in the book), talk about how kids get their energy, and why food is so important to whole body wellness.

The Curious Garden, by Peter Brown captures the transformative power of gardens in this beautifully illustrated book.  It tells the story of a boy who discovers and tends to a struggling garden, and the unexpected results. If you have a community garden, this book makes an excellent compliment to a visit, and budding activists can start a small garden in a common area. Urban food forests are becoming very popular, investigate whether your city has one. Don’t forget about your next vacation — ask relatives to take you to their community garden when you visit, or make a special trip to an urban food forest as you drive to see grandparents.

The Gardener (Sarah Stewart) tells the Depression-era story of a young girl sent to live in the city.  Told through a series of letters, the book shows how gardens can change attitudes and lives. Use your garden to connect with grandparents or other friends/relatives. Write letters, take pictures, Skype, or just invite people to visit. If your child has an interest in a particular flower, look for a club in your area — the members are usually thrilled to have children express interest and attend meetings. Find a rose garden or other urban garden and sit and watch who comes, discussing how gardens bring people together today. Can you donate some of the bounty of your garden to someone who would enjoy it or needs it? Sharing some of the flowers, or donating extra zucchini (who doesn’t have extra zucchini?) can demonstrate how gardens connect us. If you enjoy canning, kids can share some of their jam or canned fruit at the holidays as a present that they made themselves. Sharing recipes with family can reinforce fractions learned at school, and give your child something to talk about when grandma calls.


For older kids (8 and up)

Me and the Pumpkin Queen is a chapter book with a pumpkin plant at the center of the story.  In it, 11 year old Mildred enters a pumpkin contest to take her mind off her worries. Mildred is obsessed with winning the contest in memory of her mother, who never got to enter. There’s more to this book than meets the eye, it’s a great choice to read together.

Grow Your Own for Kids (Chris Collins) is an attractive book which teaches older kids how to garden 10 easy vegetables that kids love to eat.  The advice is easy to read and comprehensive, from soil preparation through troubleshooting and recipes for the harvest. If you have a picky eater, this might entice them to taste something otherwise off limits. You can also grow a themed garden (grow your own pizza gardens are easy and fun) or include some of the vegetables you used to make those natural dyes at Easter and experiment with dying other items all year long.









Achoo! Will that allergy medication hurt your milk supply?

For those of us suffering from allergies this season (and there seem to be many!), we wanted to offer a word of caution about some over-the-counter allergy medications and their effect on milk supply.

Dr. Thomas Hale’s Medications and Mothers’ Milk is the most comprehensive source of information on medications and breastfeeding, and it contains an appendix devoted to over-the-counter allergy and cold remedies.  (You can purchase his book or app, but you also have access to the same information for free by calling Dr. Hale’s Infant Risk Center!)

One of the most common ingredients in the listed allergy medicataions is pseudoephedrine.  It’s contained in a number of Claritin, Benadryl, Advil and Actifed allergy products.

For products containing pseudoephedrine, Dr. Hale has written: “Probably safe, may suppress milk supply.”  More specifically, Dr. Hale writes: In a study of eight lactating women who received a single 60 mg dose of pseudoephedrine, the 24 hour milk production was reduced by 24%…While these results are preliminary, it is apparent that mothers in late-stage lactation may be more sensitive to pseudoephedrine and have greater loss in milk production. Diphenhydramine is another common ingredient, and while Dr. Hale doesn’t note any concern about its effect on milk supply, he does write “observe for sedation” (in the baby).

A less common ingredient is phenylephrine.  Dr. Hale’s assessment:  “Because of pseudoephedrine’s effect on milk production, concerns that phenylephrine may suppress milk production, have not been confirmed yet.  There is no evidence that this occurs at all.”  He does not list “may suppress milk supply” in the Appendix for products containing this ingredient.

We hope you make it through allergy season in one piece!  And don’t forget to call the Infant Risk Center for free information about your allergy medications and breastfeeding.

* This post is provided for educational purposes only.  Please consult your health care provider for care related to this topic.

Breastfeeding Through Pregnancy

We get a lot of questions about breastfeeding while pregnant. The Leaky B@@b had a discussion on her Facebook wall recently about the subject, with Nourish Breastfeeding Support giving expert information. To make it easy to find the chat, we’ve posted the links below:

Welcome to the Pregnancy & Breastfeeding Chat

What are the risks of breastfeeding while pregnant? Can it cause a miscarriage?

What to think about before getting pregnant. Did you plan to get pregnant while breastfeeding? What happened to your milk supply?

Milk supply and pregnancy. What’s safe to take to boost supply? Why does supply drop for some moms?

Will I still get colostrum? Does my milk taste differently during pregnancy? Can breastfeeding cause me to go into labor? (and lots of other questions)

Be aware that since these threads are old, if you post a question, you should start a new thread on The Leaky B@@b to make sure the moms see your questions.

Podcast: Preparing for a VBAC, with the president of the International Cesarean Awareness Network

We’re very pleased to share a podcast interview on vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC) with Desirre Andrews, president of the International Cesarean Awareness Network.

Desiree and Tanya talked about the history of VBAC, barriers and access to VBAC, and how to prepare for one.  We also discussed ICAN’s research about hospital VBAC bans, and the 2010 National Institutes of Health statement on VBAC.

You can listen to this podcast using the player below, using Quicktime, or by downloading it at Motherlove’s iTunes store.

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