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Nursing Support

Having Babies, Nursing Support

Do the Holidays Affect Nursing Mama’s Milk Supply?

November 29, 2013

Starting a few days after Thanksgiving, and running through January, it’s not uncommon for breastfeeding mamas to flow in to the store here at Indigo Forest with a whole string of nursing concerns …..

      • “Do you think the sage in the stuffing reduced my milk supply?”
      • “I think I might be loosing my milk!”
      • “My baby isn’t satisfied at the breast, and is getting really fussy.  I’m afraid there’s a problem?”

Our experience has been that although sage IS used to help nursing mothers dry up their milk supply (for instance while weaning), small occasional amounts of sage used as seasoning rarely cause large reductions in the volume of breastmilk available.

Nearly all of customers have found their solution through these questions:

  • Did you travel by plane recently, leading to greater dehydration, or disruption your baby’s schedule?  Babies of certain ages (especially 6 mo-1 year) seem to be very distracted by the excitement of travel, which has them looking around at all the activity and less interested in nursing.
  • Were you in a stressful family setting over the holidays?  Emotional (dis)stress and tension may affect the frequency of the baby’s nursing, mom’s abililty to relax and have a milk let-down, and even mom’s comfort in settling in for relaxed eating, drinking, or breastfeeding in the presence of male relatives.  Or, the effects of THEIR discomfort & snarky comments!
  • Were you drinking enough fluids over this holiday to generate sufficient milk? 
  • And last but not least – Were you visiting with super Helpful Relatives?  The kind that saw your delicious baby, and so swept in, held, entertained & passed around that sweet child of yours for hours at a time?  This is a really common problem – those Grandmas can be TOO GOOD at ‘jiggling the baby!’   This especially comes up when family members are not acquainted with the normal rhythms of a nursing relationship, such as nursing frequently at the breast.  When they expect to see “the baby eat” every 3-4 hours, as did their bottle-fed infants, infant hunger cues are often missed or distracted away.  This has the effect of stretching out the baby’s nursing schedule from every hour or two, to every 2-4 hours.

Remember this breastfeeding is a “Supply & Demand” system!   More demand (time at the breast sucking) results in more milk!  Less demand (less frequent nursing), especially if over several days, results in less milk production.

The ‘cured’ in most of these situations is a ‘Nursing Vacation.’  This is where, depending on age of baby, mom and baby return to especially close contact for a day or two (or three.)  A very young infant may need mom to go back to bed and do skin-to-skin contact for a few days to recalibrate.  (And probably mom could use it too!)  Perhaps an older baby just needs their world to slow down, a weekend at home, lots of cuddles & even baths together, reawakening a lot of breast contact and hormonal surges.

One customer was certain that she was in the downward spiral of losing her milk completely as had happened with her first baby.  She was nearly hysterical to be in this frightening and stressful situation again, seeing her young baby be hungry.  She was shocked when we suggested, instead of buying a bunch of lactation remedies quite yet,  to brew up a pot of her pregnancy tea (it makes great milk too!),  turn her master bedroom into a toasty greenhouse, and hanging out in bed with a warm nearly naked baby skin-to-skin for the day.  It was a joyous phone call only a 5 hours later when she called to say she was already ‘gushing milk’ and couldn’t believe the difference!

This is world is a busy place, but babies are not on the fast-paced track.  Their ‘natural habitat’ for their ‘4th trimester’, their first 3 months, is actually in the arms of their mothers (or loving parent.)  This close contact helps them to stabilize their vital signs, brings them a feel of security and well-being (supporting ample weight gain and calm relaxed behavior & sleeping), and is vital in the hormonal dance for breastfeeding mothers.  Moms and babies thrive in the holiday season when mamas & papas are well-nurtured by the Helpful Relatives, and parents feel comfortable being the ones to moderate the amount of time their babies are away from them.  Maybe then you can find the balance of baby-feeding and even get in some wonderful ‘couple time’ too!

Having Babies, Nursing Support, Remedies & Supplements

The Amazing “Pregnancy Tea”

October 30, 2013

What is the one thing a pregnant mama could do that would nourish her uterus, her baby, and her immune system all at the same time?  Drink a red raspberry tea infusion throughout her pregnancy, and especially during her third trimester and after birth!

Historically, Basic Pregnancy Infusion (“Tea”) has been safely used by herbalists and midwives for nourishing all aspects of pregnancy, birth & postpartum.  As an adaptogenic herb, red raspberry is a plant that exerts a normalizing influence on the body, neither over-stimulating nor inhibiting normal body function, but rather exerting a generalized tonifying effect.  The basic recipe typically consists of 2 parts red raspberry leaf, 1 part nettle, and 1 alfalfa. For additional benefits, any of the other herbs detailed below can be added to the mix as desired. General ratios are 1/2 – 3/4 cup of the raspberry/nettle/alfalfa base & 1/2 – 1/4 cup combination of the following herbs. (Indigo Forest carries these organic herbs in both our store front & webstore.)   Note that this is NOT an exact science; it’s ok to mix according to personal taste and preference (just the way you would vary ingredients in a stir fry) and enjoy!

An infusion is made by seeping chosen herbs in nearly or just boiled water for at least 4 hours or even overnight.   There are several benefits to using loose herbs instead of tea bags, namely fresher herbs (teabags tend to be filled with smaller herb pieces that age faster) and no contamination from the bag material (dust, mildew from sitting in open pallets etc), so therefore a more flavorful & benefit-packed brew.

Brewing Directions: In general, 1-cup total of loose herb will make a half-gallon of nutritive tea (herbal infusion). Simply place herbs in a 2-quart glass jar and fill to the top with almost boiling water. Cap jar and let the infusion steep for at least four hours, or even better, overnight. Strain & squeeze out the herbs to extract the deep minerals.  For an additional nutritional boost, sweetened with raw honey or real maple syrup, and then refrigerate. Herbal infusion typically lasts at least three to four days, reheat gently on the stove if warm is desired (no microwaves), or drink as an “ice tea”.

LABOR FUEL VARIATION =  Red Raspberry Leaf Ice Cubes.  2 cups of Red Raspberry leaf to a half gallon of water. Simmer for 30 minutes, strain. Add generous amounts of raw honey; freeze in ice cube trays. Store in zippy bags, and use them during the birth for effective contractions and great energy! This midwife-designed recipe is routinely credited with supporting effective contractions in weary labors (remember the ADAPTOGENIC nature?), so that the use of Pitocin may avoided.

Here’s a good variety of herbs from which to choose, they may change throughout your childbearing year as you respond to your body’s needs:

Red Raspberry Leaf (Rubus idaeus)
Mild nutritive herb used to promote general well-being & immune support, rich in vitamins A, C, & B complex, and the minerals calcium, phosphorus, manganese, potassium, and iron. High in the mineral manganese, this mineral encourages healthy bonding, (especially nice for expectant mothers). Used during pregnancy to support proper nutrition, and a timely & effective labor. This commonly-used species of raspberry is used to help stabilize pregnancy, prevent miscarriage, ease morning sickness and prevent hemorrhage. Red raspberry leaf helps ease cold & fever symptoms, colic, diarrhea, & dysentery (lovely for infants). It’s known to cleanse the blood, which can help support healthy liver function.

Nettle (Urtica Dioica)
Rich in virtually every vitamin and mineral needed for growth and human health. High in Vitamins A, C, D, and K: minerals calcium, potassium, phosphorus, and sulfur. Helps raise oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood through its high absorbable iron content. Promote breast milk production in lactating females. Eases muscle spasms & legs cramps. Helps relieve seasonal allergies & hay fever, urinary tract infections, kidney stones, & reduce an enlarged prostate (BPH). Have anti-inflammatory properties, which are useful for treating arthritis & rheumatism.

Alfalfa (Medicago sativa)
Known as the “King of Herbs,” Alfalfa helps the body assimilate protein, calcium, and various other nutrients. It’s high in vitamins A, D, & K, and high in minerals iron, phosphorous & potassium. It’s the richest land source of trace minerals, also containing eight essential enzymes. Combine alfalfa and mint for a soothing digestive aid.

Burdock (Arctium lappa)
An excellent liver tonic, burdock root has been used traditionally in pregnancy teas (infusions) to prevent newborn jaundice and is a superior blood cleanser. Stimulating to the digestive and immune system, it also helps reduce cell mutation, and aids in the healing of skin blemishes such as acne, eczema, boils, and carbuncles.

Chamomile (Anthemis nobilis-Roman)
Reduces stress and anxiety, calming shattered nerves. Relieves indigestion & flatulence. Aids sleep. Helpful for colitis, diverticulitis, fevers, & headaches. Useful for reducing inflammation and easing menstrual cramps.

Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale)
This liver and blood cleanser alleviates edema, reduces uric acid levels, lowers blood pressure, helps treat jaundice, and relieve red and swollen eyes. Is used to treat urinary tract infections.

Hawthorn Berry (Crataegus oxycantha)
Regular use has been found to strengthen the heart muscle and in some cases restore normal cardiac function. An effective herb for reliving insomnia and nervousness. High in vitamins C & B complex, a moderate source of the minerals sodium, silica and phosphorus.

Adds a pleasant berry-lemon flavor and color to teas. High in chromium, manganese, and selenium. Used traditionally to help calm muscle spasms, and added to bulk laxative formulas as an antispasmodic.

Oatstraw (Avena Sativa)
High in the minerals magnesium and silica, both strong participants in the utilization of calcium. Silica is used in the proper growth and development of the hair, skin, and nails. Excellent herb for helping the body cope with stress & ease depression. Used for ovarian, uterine, and general glandular disorders.

Red Clover
High in the minerals chromium, magnesium, phosphorus, & potassium. Soothes nerves, acting as a mild sedative for nervous exhaustion. Historically used to treat whooping cough, rickets & spasmodic afflictions. Excellent for purification of the blood & inflammatory skin conditions.

Excellent source of vitamin C, and rich in the vitamins A, E, B complex and D. High in food-source sodium (very useful to the body, & very different from table or even sea salt). Used during cold & flu season to boost immune function. Anti-inflammatory properties make use ideal for arthritic conditions.

Shavegrass, also known as Horsetail (Equisetum arvense)
High in silica: a mineral essential for the proper growth, and function of the hair, skin, nails, connective tissues, and nervous system. (Think skin integrity & moderating stretch marks!) Helps dissolve tumors, and is used to treat and prevent arthritis, good for glandular disorders.

Aids digestion, excellent for soothing an upset stomach, an effective remedy for colic. Blends well with most teas, and adds a pleasant flavor to the somewhat grassy-tasting Alfalfa tea.

A reminder: This traditional herbal information, garnered from naturopathic sources such as the reference “Herbs for the Childbearing Year” does not constitute medical advice. Please consult your favorite herbal expert or natural health professional with questions or concerns. And as always at Indigo Forest, we charge you with using your common sense and listening to your intuition as part of your health care approach!

Having Babies, Naturopathy, Nursing Support, Remedies & Supplements, The Knowledge Nook

The Bane of Thrush & Yeast Infections

October 26, 2013

Many mothers & babies struggle with yeast or thrush infections after birth.  It’s much more common now than even in the last decade, due in large part to the routine use of antibiotics at birth for the approximate 30% of pregnant women who test positive when cultured for Group Beta Strep.  While not usually a ‘serious’ problem, it can cause a very serious level of discomfort & pain for mothers/babies (as well as disrupting the infants digestion over the long term), even eroding a mama’s determination to breastfeed.  Prevention is a worthy goal, aided by passionately avoiding all antibiotics as much as possible, avoiding antibiotic soaps (which wipe out the good guys too) and including ‘live cultured food’ and restorative probiotics in one’s diet.  Here’s some more information if you find yourself wondering if you may have yeast/thrush….

Candida Albicana is commonly called yeast.  The problem arises when there is an overgrowth in the vagina (yeast infection), or when there is an overgrowth of yeast on the nipples, in the baby’s mouth or diaper area (all of which are called ‘thrush’). The body strives to maintain a delicate balance of appropriate “good” bacteria to help counter the overgrowth of the “bad”, thrush is a sign of imbalance.

Sometimes referred to as a fungus, yeast/thrush is an opportunist microbe, which reproduces rapidly & thrives in moist dark places.  And as you might guess, it’s highly contagious, and requires scrupulous hygiene to limit its spread.

You’re at greater risk for thrush if you:

  1. Have a history of yeast infections
  2. Have had antibiotics (yes, ever)
  3. Had an IV in the hospital which may have included antibiotics (I.e. Surgery)
  4. Wear wet nursing pads
  5. Take medications

Women are more at risk for thrush during times of illness, stress and times of hormonal changes such as during menstruation or pregnancy.

What to watch for – things that MAY indicate thrush in Mom: 

  1. Onset of intense nipple pain after a period of comfortable nursing
  2. Itchy or burning nipples, which MAY appear pink, red or shiny
  3. Cracked nipples that will not heal

What to watch for – things that MAY indicate thrush in Baby:

  1. White patches in the baby’s mouth that don’t wipe off, or if they do they are red or bleed underneath
  2. Diaper rash
  3. Baby’s mouth is sore, as possibly indicated by pulling off the breast or a clicking sound during nursing
  4. Gassiness or fussiness

It is possible for both mother and baby to have no visible symptoms.

Simple Solutions:

  1. Expose nipples to light and air.
  2. Change pH by rinsing nipples with a 20% vinegar solution (after nursing is a good time to apply it, as although it’s not harmful the baby would not like the taste.)
  3. Kill yeast by washing ALL items that come in contact with the yeast (breasts, milk, infant clothes and spit-up rags) in water over 122 degrees F  (‘hot wash’ generally does it) or hang wash to dry in the sun.  Set nursing pillow in sun for 20 minutes; UV light is your friend, not yeast’s.
  4. Reduce or eliminate consumption of sugar, coffee, black tea and dairy products.  Some also would increase consumption of ‘live cultured foods’, which include yogurt (organic brands, NOT sugary dessert versions), miso broth, real sauerkraut, feta cheese, raw cider etc.
  5. Increase use of coconut oil in diet, which has antiviral, antimicrobial and antifungal properties due to it’s lauric & caprylic acid.   Studies have found it kills off excess yeast & fungal overgrowths in the body, and balances beneficial flora in the gut while targeting harmful bacteria.

Critical Care:

  1. Acidophilus/Probiotic Supplements – highest (and most effective) quality will normally be found in the refrigerated section, and often cost $25-$45/bottle.  Look also for infant specific strains to give the baby directly (sprinkled on your nipple before nursing or to suck off your finger).

“Work up to 3 capsules 3 times daily for at least 2 weeks AFTER symptoms are gone.”  (Hafner-Eaton, 1997).

Many mothers seem to need an extraordinary level, even as much as 12-14 caps/day for a couple of weeks, including at least 5 days longer than the symptoms, to overcome thrush.  The more persistent the case, the longer passed the symptoms one might take the probiotics (reduced level) as a preventative against ‘relapse.’
(Beth Barbeau, Indigo Forest Owner/Midwife)

  1. Liddell’s ‘Candida Yeast’ Homeopathic liquid tincture, take according to directions.
  2. Homeopathic pellets – Borax 12c or 30x, take according to directions.
  3. Motherlove Thrush and Diaper Cream.   This can be safely used on both mom (nipples) & baby (bottom rash).   Use a fresh, clean finger each time, so as not to contaminate the bottle.  Don’t use lanolin-based creams if they are not thrush specific – they can make it worse.
  4. Fresh Breast pads – cotton (wash hot), disposable (change frequently), or soft natural wool (helps heal cracked nipples and can be put in the sun for 20 minutes of UV to kill any lingering yeast.)
  5. Essential oils – specific to your symptoms, often includes oregano oil.

Support for the tough times:

Ann Arbor’s original “Nursing Café” most Wednesday afternoons, 2-3pm, @ Indigo Forest, no charge.

La Leche League, free weekly support groups in many areas.  Breastfeeding help & meeting locations are available 24 hours/day at 1-877-LALECHE (452-5324).



Having Babies, Nursing Support

Welcome Keleigh Lee, IBCLC!!

March 15, 2012

Indigo Forest is proud to announce a new collaboration with experienced lactation specialist, Keleigh Lee, IBCLC!

See Keleigh’s new breastfeeding classes offered in March & April!

Keleigh Lee, IBCLC, is an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant trained to support mothers meet their breastfeeding goals. The IBCLC credential is the most advanced lactation certification available and ensures a level of expertise mothers need and deserve ( Much misinformation exists and can have major negative impacts on breastfeeding success. Keleigh is a mother of four children who have all breastfed and knows how vulnerable and fragile the newborn stage can be.

My goal in providing breastfeeding guidance is to empower families to solve their breastfeeding challenges and get back on track. By inviting me into your life you share a trust with me and I will do all in my ability to hear your story with respect and caring as I help to work through your problems.”

Keleigh is also an accredited La Leche League Leader ( and a volunteer Lactation Consultant for the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program where she has helped hundreds of mother-baby pairs over the years. Her professional background as a medical illustrator and extensive lactation science education give her a solid medical foundation for handling a wide range of breastfeeding issues. She is a self-described “lactation geek” and will happily treat you to lactation geekery details if asked!

Healthy Living, Nursing Support, Uncategorized

Breastfeeding Seminar-Tell Your Doula!

January 3, 2011


Supporting Happy Healthy Nursing Relationships

With Beth Bailey Barbeau, Midwife, Indigo Forest Founder

& Instructor in NITE Holistic Labor Companion Program

While breastfeeding is the most ‘natural thing in the world’, it’s no longer ‘coming naturally’ to many mother-baby pairs. In this seminar suitable for both student & professional, find out why ‘normal’ births are creating obstacles to satisfying breastfeeding, how to counsel families for early success, and the essentials of a satisfying breastfeeding relationship.  Emphasizing both naturopathic & practical problem-solving, we’ll detail a wide range of responses to common concerns – come prepared to take your skills & confidence to a whole new level!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

9 am – 5 pm

Naturopathic Community Center

503 E. Broadway, Mt. Pleasant, MI  48858

$89 per person

Call 989-773-3636 to Register

“I feel like I have a huge knowledge base on breastfeeding even though I have never breastfed.”

“My confidence in my ability to help nursing mothers has increased dramatically!”

“As someone who had taken lactation education training classes before, I thought I wouldn’t learn much new information – I was wrong! Thanks so much!”