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tanya has written 166 posts for Motherlove Herbal Company Breastfeeding Blog and Podcasts

As we spread our wings in our new Motherlove facility, we stay true to our roots

16 16 photoWe’re so excited to announce that we recently moved into our new Motherlove facility!  Our new space will allow us to grow, while we stay true to our roots as a family company.

Those roots took hold over 20 years ago, when Kathryn Higgins started Motherlove in the kitchen of her family home in Rist Canyon, in the mountains west of Fort Collins, Colorado.  There she created herbal products with plants she had harvested.   As the business grew, her husband built her a shop on the property, where she continued her hand-crafted business.

Then in 1995 Motherlove moved to Laporte, Colorado, the town closest to the family home.  There we had an 1,100 square foot facility to house our growing business.

103We loved being located in Laporte, a one-stoplight town so close to home.  But after 18 years and many additions it became clear that we needed more space to house the current and future needs of Motherlove.

Last year we purchased a 14,000 square foot building in central Fort Collins, Colorado.  We now have a full-sized warehouse, more office space, and new production equipment.  This space will allow us to store enough materials to meet our needs, take advantage of more efficient equipment, and prepare larger batches of our products.  We even have the luxury of space to grow into!

We’re also maintaining our commitment to the environment in our new facility.  We carefully examined our energy usage, and made a number of changes to improve our energy efficiency, including installing new LED lighting.  And we are starting to work on a solar installation in the back of the facility which will more than offset our total energy use.162

As we make this leap into a bigger space, we remain mindful of the importance of staying true to our roots as a family company.  Kathryn and her family still own and operate Motherlove, and we still work by hand, blending the herbs and pressing the oils in our products.

While our new facility is larger, we are the same family-owned and operated business that began in the kitchen of our family home.  We are fully committed to staying true to Motherlove’s roots as we spread our wings!


Why do toddlers tantrum? Can they share? A podcast interview with the author of How Todders Thrive

How Toddlers ThrivecoverWhat is going on inside the toddler brain?

Can toddlers share?

Why do they throw tantrums, and what should parents do about them?

Can toddlers have empathy when they’re so busy developing themselves?

Should we intervene in sibling fights?

Why are limits important, and how does that square with a hands-off parenting approach?

What’s the Toddler Paradox?

These and more questions are answered in our new podcast interview with Dr. Tovah Klein, author of How Toddlers Thrive: What Parents Can Do Today for Children Ages 2-5 to Plant the Seeds of Lifelong Success.  Dr. Klein is the director of the Barnard College Center for Toddler Development.

You can listen to this podcast using the player below, using Quicktime, or download it from our free iTunes store.

Your tips for soothing teething pain

800px-Teething_2Teething can be a trying experience – for both your baby and you!  The fussiness, drooling, and sleep disturbance some babies experience – not to mention the discomfort – can make this a difficult time.

Fortunately there are many remedies for teething pain, and we collected many from you on our Facebook page.  Here are some of our favorites!

  • Frozen breastmilk in a mesh feeder
  • Hyland’s Teething Tablets
  • For older children, frozen blueberries, green beans, celery sticks,  to gnaw on
  • Lots of snuggles
  • Bach Rescue Remedy (for both baby and mom)
  • Chamomile tea soaked knit cloths that were chilled. For older children, chamomile popsicles
  • Amber necklaces
  • Frozen washcloths, frozen pacifiers

And of course, breastfeeding!

Image:  Wikimedia Commons

Growing a simple kids’ container herb garden

2009_West_Yorkshire_England_3698905473_herbsIf there’s one thing we love more than growing herbs, it’s growing herbs with kids!

Gardening with kids is fun and educational, but if you’re not already a green thumb you might feel a bit intimidated, or maybe confused about where to start.

So here’s our guide to creating the simplest of simple herb container gardens with kids!

What you’ll need:

  1. Some herb starts (these are young plants, available at garden centers and some supermarkets).  Some suggestions:  oregano (which kids can add along with basil to spaghetti or pizza sauce), basil (which kids can use to make pesto), cilantro (to include in salsa), mint (which kids can add to a cold summer drink or use to make tea), and lavender (which kids can use to create fragrant sachets).  You can let kids choose if they’d like to make a “pizza garden” a “bath garden” or a “tea garden” (though chances are they’ll say “all of them!”).  You can also grow plants from seed if you prefer.
  2. A container with drainage holes.  You can purchase planters at a garden center or make them from colanders, coffee cans, even old boots!  Just be sure to avoid plastic that might break down in the sun, or anything that might have lead paint.  Large containers or multiple small ones are best, since they’ll allow the plants room to grow.  Just punch or drill holes in the bottom for drainage and you’re set.  Kids can paint or otherwise decorate the containers if they like.
  3. Potting mix, organic if you prefer, available at garden centers.  These are called “soil less” mixes and are better than dirt from a garden because they’re less dense.
  4. A nice sunny spot, either outside or on a sunny windowsill.  Most herbs need about 6 or more hours of sunlight a day to thrive.

Then, with your kids, just add potting mix to container, and plant your starts, leaving plenty of space between each plant to allow for growth (check the information that comes with the plant for spacing requirements).  Water, and place in a sunny spot.  Thereafter, water according to the instructions that come with the plants.  Kids can harvest the herbs continually once the plant has enough foliage to sustain growth.

Plan some opportunities for kids to harvest the herbs to make spaghetti sauce, pesto, mint tea, or a sachet using lavender flowers.  If you’d like, engage kids in some observations about the impact of different amounts of light on growth,  or a soil investigation.  Enjoy!

Children’s books on babywearing!

A while back we posted a long list of children’s books about breastfeeding.  We thought we’d follow it up with a list of books that depict babywearing!  There are far fewer, but they’re a great addition to a natural parenting children’s book library.

carrymeCarry Me is a board book depicting babywearing around the world.  With rhyming text and a diverse array of carrying styles, it’s an easy favorite for infants and toddlers.  An index at the back identifies each of the cultures shown.

a_ride_on_mothers_back_coverA Ride on Mother’s Back shows the many ways  mothers around the world carry their babies, from Africa to Latin America and beyond, all from a child’s point of view.  The book provides notes with more information about each tradition, and a map showing the home of each of the cultures depicted.  Beautiful illustrations and simple text make this a classic babywearing book.

Babies on the goCarryMeAnimalBabiesTwo books, Babies on the Go and Carry Me! show the ways that other animals carry their young.  A great companion to Mama’s Milk, which depicts the ways that other mammals nurse their young, these teach how normal it is for mothers of many species to carry their young.  A chart at the end of Babies on the Go identifies each animal.

$T2eC16h,!zEE9s3!Z)qdBRV1bCNTgw~~_35The Backpack Baby series of board books show, in simple and bright illustrations sure to appeal to the youngest readers, the adventures of a dad his baby carried on his back.  One book shows a bottle, but this may allow for a discussion of fathers feeding babies breastmilk when they are not with a nursing mother.

sears_williamWhat Baby Needs is a classic of attachment parenting, written by William and Martha Sears.  Among a number of topics, including breastfeeding, What Baby Needs shows both a dad and a mom carrying a baby in a sling.   It’s a wonderful book to help introduce a pregnancy and new baby to older siblings.

Are there other books depicting babywearing we should know about?  Feel free to share your favorites!

Why is the C-section rate so high? A podcast interview with the author of Cut It Out

Cut-it-Out-coverWhat are the key factors driving recent record high cesarean section rates in the U.S.?  And what are the consequences for the health of mothers and babies?

In our new podcast interview we spoke with Dr. Theresa Morris, author of Cut It Out: The C-Section Epidemic in America about the reasons behind the current c-section rate, why VBAC is inaccessible for many women, new trends in cesarean birth, and the paradox of the cesarean birth rate.  Dr. Morris also shared her top tips for avoiding a c-section.

You can listen to this podcast using the player below, with Quicktime, or download it from our free iTunes store.


Feeding breastmilk by bottle? Learn paced feeding to avoid overfeeding your baby.

Mother Holding InfantYou may not be able to overfeed a baby at the breast, but it is possible to overfeed (and overwhelm) a baby with a bottle of breastmilk.

Paced feeding is a method that helps to prevent this problem, and may be useful for you to learn if you’ll be returning to work and pumping, if you’re exclusively pumping, or if your partner will be feeding an occasional bottle of breastmilk.

Research has shown that feeding babies anything by bottle can can have an effect on their ability to regulate their intake.  It’s likely a result of the “maternal control” over how much is taken by the bottle which doesn’t occur in feeding at the breast, which overrides babies’ needs.  One theory suggests that this inability to self-regulate intake is related to higher risk of overweight and obesity.

Paced feeding allows babies more control over his or her intake of breastmilk by responding to their cues, and may also prevent post-feeding fussiness by reducing overfeeding.  Since much of paced feeding also mimics feeding at the breast, it can also support the breastfeeding relationship and help babies transition back and forth from breast to bottle.  Babies may be less likely to get accustomed to the fast flow of a bottle and reject the breast.

How does paced feeding work?

  • Feed based on the baby’s feeding cues, not a set schedule.
  • Hold the baby so she is in a more on an upright or almost sitting position.  Avoid feeding by bottle when the baby is reclined, as this reduces her control over the flow of milk.
  • Hold the bottle in a horizontal position, tilted only enough to keep milk in the bottle nipple.
  • Don’t force the nipple into the baby’s mouth.  Rather, elicit the rooting response and encourage the baby to “latch” onto the nipple by touching the nipple to the baby’s nose.
  • Ensure that the baby’s mouth placement on the nipple is good.
  • Allow the baby to set the pace of the feeding, and aim for the same length of time as a feeding at the breast might take.
  • Encourage the baby to pause frequently, resting the bottle nipple on the baby’s lips or taking a break to burp him.  The baby will start sucking again when he’s ready.
  • Switch sides during the feeding to mimic feeding at breast and even out eye stimulation.
  • Never try to force the baby to take more than she wants to just to finish the bottle.  If you’re worried about squandering precious breastmilk (we understand!), heat up smaller amounts – maybe 2 ounces – at a time, and providing more as needed.

A few resources on paced feeding that may be helpful:



Seasonal allergies? Herbs to the rescue!

butterburAllergy season is in full swing again, so we thought we’d share some information on herbs to relieve your seasonal suffering.

We love herbs for their power to do everything from heal skin to increase milk supply, so we thought we’d share some information on the many herbs that can help with seasonal allergies.*  Sure, there are plenty of pharmaceutical solutions, but isn’t it more poetic to counter allergies caused by plants with…more plants?

Nettle.  We use nettle to increase milk supply in many of our products, but it can also be helpful in treating seasonal allergies.  Freeze-drying nettle preserves its antihistamine properties, so freeze-dried nettle is commonly recommended.  In one randomized controlled trial half of the participants found nettle to be equally or more effective than their prescription medicine.

ButterburUsed traditionally for inflammation, recent research has demonstrated the effectiveness of butterbur in treating allergies.  One study found that butterbur extract was as effective as a popular antihistamine medication in controlling symptoms of hay fever, without drowsiness.  The raw form of this plant should never be eaten, and some urge caution in using this plant if you have ragweed allergies.

Bromelain.  Bromelian is a derivative of pineapple and pineapple stem, and may be useful in treating symptoms like nasal swelling and runny nose.  It’s used to thin mucus, and in doing so may help in preventing sinus infections.

* This information is presented for educational purposes only, and not as medical advice.  Consult the Infant Risk Center for information on the use of these herbs in pregnancy and lactation.  Image credit:  Butterbur, Wikimedia Commons

Free to Breastfeed: Voices of Black Mothers on our new podcast!

Free_To_Breastfeed Voices of Black MothersThe authors of the new book, Free to Breastfeed: Voices of Black Mothers are guests on our new podcast!

Authors Jeanine Logan and Anayah Sangodele-Ayoka talked about the importance of giving voice to African American moms’ stories, of claiming breastfeeding as part of the African American experience and tradition, and about going beyond the typical headlines about black women and breastfeeding.  They discussed treatment by healthcare providers, breastfeeding support organizations, and also shared which stories moved them.  We think you’ll really enjoy the conversation!

You can listen to this podcast using the player below, with Quicktime, and by downloading it at our free iTunes store.

Can I use herbs during labor? Yes!

products_birthWe’re pleased to share the following information on herbs for labor and postpartum care, written by Motherlove founder Kathryn Higgins:

Can I use herbs during labor?

Yes, herbs can be very useful during labor and after birth to ease pain, calm emotions, and help speed recovery.  The following herbs have been used by midwives and birthing women.  See our section on plants for photos and more detailed information on several of these herbs.  Many products using these herbs are available through Motherlove.

  • Blue and black cohosh are two herbs that work synergistically to bring on labor (but do not use before the 39th week of pregnancy).  During labor they can make contractions more efficient in a long, stalled labor, and help the uterus clamp down after birth.
  • Raspberry leaf (tea or tincture) is one of the best uterine tonic herbs to prepare uterine muscles for an efficient labor.  Its astringent action slows bleeding and helps to expel the placenta.  Have the tea on hand or make raspberry tea ice cubes to suck on during labor.

Many herbs can help ease the pain of contractions:

  • Take crampbark for uterine cramping during labor, and after birth to eliminate after birth cramping pains.
  • Scullcap and catnip relieve pain, as well as calm and relax the body.
  • Chamomile helps control pain during labor by relieving tension.

Other herbs help with emotional balance during labor:

  • Motherwort is one of the best herbs to give immediate emotional balance during the ups and downs of labor, but it may increase uterine bleeding.
  • Rescue Remedy, a Bach flower remedy, is excellent for bringing one quickly into focus when under stress or shock during a difficult labor.  It can also be put on the baby’s forehead or wrist after a stressful birth.
  • A massage oil, enhanced with herbs, will relax the muscles and ease back labor pain.  Use relaxing, aromatic herbs such as chamomile, rose, and lavender.  Rubbed on the perineum, it helps prevent tearing as the baby crowns and ease swelling and burning.
  • Essential oils in a massage oil or mister can give clarity and focus.  Clary sage gives a sense of well being and combats mental fatigue.  During birth it helps focus breathing and calm anxiety.  Geranium essential oil balances emotions  and works well for perineal massage, as it stimulates circulation.  Lavender is calming and strengthening, relieving depression and irritability, and ideal in any blend for all skin types. Be sure that essential oils are used in a carrier oil or mister and not directly on the skin.
  • After the birth, use a sitz bath to soak the perineum, heal any tears, shrink swelling, and slow bleeding.  It helps the perineum to heal quickly, makes walking more comfortable, and feels so good!  Herbs to use include comfrey, yarrow, uva ursi, witch hazel, shepherds purse, and garlic.
  • Fill a plastic squirt bottle with a strong comfrey tea (or add calendula) to squirt on your perineum as you urinate to lessen any burning and heal tears.
  • Homeopathic arnica pills, taken every few hours for several days after the birth, help reduce bruising and swelling of the perineal tissue.  Be sure you are taking arnica internally only in homeopathic form, as arnica tincture prevents clotting and should not be taken internally.

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