Finding Balance for Your Growing Family!!!

As new parents there are a million and one demands on your time, energy, and resources.  How do you navigate through the myriad of opportunities?  How do you decide what will best benefit your family?

In Southern California we tend to run around like chickens with our heads cut off!!  (By the way, chickens really do run around once their heads have been removed!)  We get so busy there is no time for the rest and recuperation we all desperately need. It is important to communicate with your family members.  Make a weekly date to sit down with your mate.  Guard that time above all others.  Talk, laugh, just sit together.  Listen to each other.  Ask questions.  This is not the time to watch TV or a movie.  Unwind before you come together.  You will be amazed at how much closer you will feel to each other.  Respecting this time will build a foundation for the different challenges you will face as your family grows.

Below are some suggested books to give you information.  As you can see, William Sears is my favorite author!  He writes like I do:  Lots of information easily gleaned, not allot of fluff.  I hope these are helpful!

Parental Reading Resource List     These are some tips for adjusting to parenthood

Provided by Eastman Doula Services

1.   Misconceptions                                                                                               by  Naomi Wolf

2.   Becoming a Father: How to Nurture and Enjoy Your Family      by  Dr. William Sears

3.  Mothering the New Mother                                                                             by Sally Placksin

4.  Keys to Becoming A Father                                                                            by Dr. William Sears

5.  The Year After Childbirth                                                                                 by Shiela Kitzinger

6.  Your Fussy Baby or High-Need Child                                                  by Dr. William Sears

7.  The Attachment Parenting Book: A Commonsense Guide to Understanding and Nurturing Your Baby                    Dr. William Sears

The Chinese Postpartum Diet

Recently I have been studying birth and postpartum practices internationally.  Other cultures respect the postpartum period in the lives of their families more strenuously than we do in the United States.  In working with a lovely family who just delivered their fourth child, I learned of Chinese practices for newly delivered mothers.  Traditional Chinese families honor what is called the Stay In Month just after delivery.  During this time mom enjoys a special diet of healing and milk production boosting foods. Usually family members come into the home and care for mom and baby, preparing these choice foods, allowing mom to rest and recuperate. If this is not convenient, the foods may be ordered and brought in through several local companies.  I have included one of many articles I have found describing the practices and foods used.  What I appreciate most about these customs is the understanding that the first month of life is very important.  Mom’s healing, state of mind, and nurturing is foundational for the future. As with anything included on this blog, glean for yourself what you like and can use.  I want to provide information and suggestions that can be a part of your birth and life plan.  What you choose to use is completely up to you!!

Boosting milk supply with Chinese postpartum confinement diet

Yesterday, Mr Taiwanxifu took baby for a check-up at hospital. Taiwanxifu Baby is not only gaining weight, he is packing it on. A total of 650g in eight days in fact. Could it be that Chinese postpartum confinement food (坐月子餐, zuo yuezi can) is helping to boost my milk supply?

I am producing so much milk that I have begun to freeze excess. (I guess I have the hoarder instinct in me.) And having such a bountiful supply is fortunate because Taiwanxifu Baby is a big boy with a huge appetite to match. Thankfully, with all the nutritious confinement foods I am able to keep up with his demands.

I was curious to compare the zuo yuezi diet I am consuming at the moment with current Western advice on a good diet for nursing mothers. Certain foods are considered to begalactagogues (also called lactogenic foods), with the potential to enhance the quantity and quality of breastmilk. Never fear for those wanting to share a nursing mother’s meal: certain foods may help increase milk supply, but they are no substitute for regular feedings. And of course you need to have the necessary hormonal preconditions. Some zuo yuezi dishes are considered especially beneficial for producing milk. These include pigs trotters stewed with peanuts, green papaya cooked in milk, chicken soup made with sesame oil, and fresh fish soup. But according to my confinement doula (yuepo), all foods on the zuo yuezi diet help with lactation in one way or another, and it is often difficult to single out one particular dish over another. Certainly, it would get boring having to eat the same meals over and over (a common complaint that used to be made about confinement food). The key super galactagogue foods often recommended in Western cultural traditions include:

  1. A diet high in complex carbohydrates and whole grains will help to produce milk. Grains that are considered to be especially beneficial include oats, barley, millet and brown rice. A zuo yuezi diet is not so big on oats, which is surprising given recent research that indicates that a bowl of porridge for brekky does wonders for producing milk. Perhaps this is because oats are not a traditional staple in Chinese cooking. But they do feature in some whole-grain rice blends favoured during the postpartum confinement month. Other grains, especially barley and millet are widely used as well, especially in sweet soups. My confinement nanny (yuepo) came back from the local wet market this morning with supplies of special whole grains including whole wheat, millet and uber-healthy rice blends. These are used both in savoury and sweet dishes, to be eaten several times throughout the day.
  2. Green vegetables. Chinese food emphasises the importance of green, leafy vegetables and unsurprisingly they feature strongly in zuo yuezi can. I ate a lot of green vegetables while I was in hospital, but not so much since. This is not because my confinement nanny has excluded green vegetables, but rather because there are hardly any available in the marketplace since heavy rains fell during a typhoon last week. She has been substituting cabbage, broccoli and green beans instead.
  3. Root vegetables such as carrot, beet and yam. Zuo yuezi foods includes the ubiquitous carrots (which cuisine doesn’t?), but it also includes certain types of yams and other root vegetables. Rounds of sliced lotus roots also make a special appearance in soups and stir-fries.
  4. Garlic and ginger. Ginger is a common ingredient in zuo yuezi food, especially from the second week onwards. Ginger is warming, and helps purge the body of excess fluids and recover from childbirth. It also helps with let down and milk flow. Garlic is also included in zuo yuezi foods in moderation, and is believed to help babies latch better and drink more.
  5. Payaya. Western dieticians have noticed that people in many parts of Southeast Asia eat cooked green papaya to help boost milk supply. I personally haven’t tried this, but it makes sense since green papaya is rich in oxytocin, the ‘love’ hormone that comes into play when breastfeeding. Advocates of papaya as a lactogenic food claim that it enhances breast tissue, improves lactation, and helps to instill relaxation thereby assisting with breast milk let-down.
  6. Salmon. Salmon and other large fish are a rich source of essential fatty acids and omega-3 fatty acids. Eating seafood rich in these fatty acids help with the new mother’s overall nutrition, and ar believed to help improve the quality of breast milk. My confinement nanny regularly cooks salmon as one of the dishes served in a meal, along with other seafood such as mackerel steaks, cod, squid and prawns.
  7. Water. Drinking enough fluids is essential during breastfeeding, when your body is releasing a lot of fluid in breast milk. Western advice is to drink water. But the traditional Chinese view is to avoid ordinary water during zuo yuezi, and to instead drink specially produced Chinese herbal teas and soups which are laced with ingredients designed to nourish the body and encourage breast milk production.
  8. Fennel. Fennel is widely considered to be a powerful galactagogue, and is effective when used as a spice in cooking or drunk as a herbal tea. In Chinese, fennel is known as 茴香籽 (huíxiāng zǐ). It is sometimes combined in spice blends used for stewing meat, but is also used in Traditional Chinese Medicine to warm the body, spread liver energy and improve kidney energy.
  9. Fenugreek. Like fennel, fenugreek is a well-known galactagogue, often taken in capsule form. I took supplements for weeks. It worked okay, although one of the side-effects was that my pores emitted a strong honey-musk fragrance that took a while to adjust to. Actually, I thought I stank. In Chinese fenugreek is known as húlúbā (胡芦巴), and is used to warm the kidneys.
  10. Raw nuts. Nuts such as almonds, macadamia and cashews are also believed to help facilitate milk production. At the very least, they are healthy. Oddly, zuo yuezi foods do not seem to contain many nuts, although my confinement doula often includes pine nuts. Perhaps I should snack on raw almonds.
  • Healthy fats. Healthy fats play a vital role in cellular and neural metabolism, and can help to improve the quality of a lactating woman’s milk. In Taiwan, sesame oil is widely used in many zuo yuezi dishes. My confinement doula also uses some cold-pressed Australian extra virgin olive oil, which is fabulous.
  1. Herbs and spices. Several herbs and spices, including black pepper, marjoram, basil, anise, dill and caraway. Spices in your kitchen can be used to support milk production. Try adding marjoram and basil to your meals, and anise, dill or caraway. Black pepper, taken in moderation, is helpful.
  2. Legumes. Like grains, legumes and beans are believed to help promote milk supply. Chinese cooking does not use lentils or chickpeas to the extent that it is used in Indian and Middle Eastern cuisines. But zuo yuezi food does feature red beans (adzuki beans), especially when cooked as a sweet soup. Black beans and kidney beans were also served during my hospital stay. Tofu, made from soy beans, is also a staple in Chinese cooking including during confinement. Interestingly, zuo yuezi food includes peanuts – often stewed as a savoury or sweet soup. Technically a legume not a nut, peanuts are rich in iron and therefore a good food to consume postpartum.

Of course, there are many more reputed lactogenic foods.  And different things work best for different people.  But I am finding that an overall healthy diet, with fresh vegetables and lots of whole grains, combined with as much rest as possible with a new baby works wonders.

I Am Published!!!!

The Wet Set Gazette is a parents magazine provided locally packed full of interesting and helpful information!  My article ran in this month’s copy!  I hope you find this magazine to be a wonderful adventure in your new role as “Parent”!!!  I am attaching the entire publication.  If you want just my article let me know and  I will send it to you!

2015 Wet Set Gazette pdf

Breastfeeding for You!

Life continues at breakneck speed for all of us!  How do you find quiet moments to reboot and refresh in your mommy days?  I remember hearing a pediatrician in the hospital tell a mom “The most important part of breastfeeding is a relaxed mommy.”  It is important for you to find moments to relax and rest.  Find a special quite place to breastfeed.  Let it be just you and your baby whenever possible.  Include your glass of ice cold water, a Boppy Pillow, & a soft blanket for cuddling baby.  Enjoy!!!

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