Archives for posts with tag: natural

Before giving birth to Beckett, every parent had told me that the first weeks of your new baby’s life are the most challenging. Though that was definitely a very difficult time, the next weeks that followed were also quite challenging with one thing being the constant – more struggles with breastfeeding.

At ten weeks post partum my breastfeeding experience took an unexpected turn. As you may have read in my last post, breastfeeding began with many different obstacles for me to overcome. The latest one came when I had the joy of discovering my period had returned less than three months after giving birth. I knew it was a possibility that you could get your period even when exclusively breastfeeding but never in a million years did I expect to get it that quickly after having a baby. If you know me and have read my previous post, From No Period to Pregnant,  you may think it is a bit ironic that I would be one of the few to get my period back so early after having had such challenges getting it regularly not that many years ago. And so alas, the lovely red witch decided to make her grand re-entrance into my life at Beckett’s young age of ten weeks. And boy did she produce all kinds of new problems for my life as a breastfeeding mommy.

When I got my period back, my milk supply almost disappeared completely. It had been going down for the week prior (which apparently happens to those who get their period while breastfeeding) and I wasn’t really aware of it. I didn’t realize Beckett wasn’t getting enough milk until I figured out that he was dehydrated. I noticed he looked thinner so I took him to the doctor and sure enough he had lost almost half a pound. I stressed out and my milk supply was affected even further to the point that I had basically no milk left to feed him. Luckily I had stashed a ton away in my deep freezer when he was first born so I was able to supplement with frozen milk while I worked diligently to get my milk supply back up. The first step I took was to call back my favorite “Boobie Mobile”, My Nursing Coach. Linda, the lactation consultant, recommended I take a medication called, Domperidone, to help get my supply back up. DP is a medication meant for gastrointestinal issues and happens to have the side effect that it stimulates prolactin (milk production) and can increase a nursing mother’s milk supply.

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you know I have always tried to do things the natural way and not the medical way. In my moment of desperation, I began taking Domperidone without a moment’s hesitation. Beckett was still so young and the thought of no longer breastfeeding was devastating. So I started taking the medication immediately and within a couple of days, my supply was back to where it had been before. I was so excited to be able to share this special bond again and yet in the back of my mind a bit concerned about what this medication might do to me over time. I had done a ton of research and with the exception of minor side effects while on it, I learned there have been no long-term effects on the mother; less than .01% of it makes its way into the milk, making it also safe for Baby as well.

Just before Beckett’s four month birthday I was at a crossroads; I needed to decide whether to re-order more medication or try to get off of it and see if I could still produce naturally as I had done so abundantly at the beginning of Beckett’s life. I decided to try and get off of it by slowly cutting back on the dosage. In a matter of days I realized that the only way to keep my supply up at this point would be to continue on DP as my body had become dependent on it. I had an incredible amount of anxiety during this time and wasn’t sleeping well. I was still concerned about the unknown affects it may have on Beckett despite what I had researched since I hadn’t discussed it with his pediatrician before taking it.

Luckily, when I visited the pediatrician that week she gave me her blessing to stay on it and wrote me a prescription. I was an emotional mess in her office that day as I had been having a terrible week of getting Beckett to nurse (he had fallen in love with the bottle when I had to supplement back at ten weeks) and was also having extreme difficulty with getting the milk out with the pump. I told her I had been dealing with a ton of anxiety and mood swings, which we both just figured was due to hormones and the stress of whether or not to continue on the medication.

When the pediatrician returned with my prescription, she mentioned that Domperidone could cause anxiety and/or depression; something NOBODY else had mentioned to me between the lactation consultant and other women that had been on it. My nutritionist and wonderful friend, Debra Delson, further investigated the medication when I mentioned that I was on it and was able to tell me more about what can happen on the drug. I was having major letdown issues (when the milk takes a long time to come out) so much so that Beckett was losing patience and it was constantly a battle with him to breastfeed. I was having difficulty sleeping and was moody and anxious. I dealt with minor stomachaches. I would become engorged and not be able to pump the milk out – all things caused by the medication.

Upon learning this I decided that in order to be the best mom I could be for Beckett, I needed to take care of me as well. It was a heartbreaking decision but I decided staying on the medication wasn’t the right thing to do and would have to give up breastfeeding. I needed to stay true to who I am and what I always preach on House of Health…you are the only person that stays with you for your entire life so you must first take care of YOU and then others!

I was pleasantly surprised to learn that the milk didn’t entirely disappear upon quitting breastfeeding. I managed to continue pumping and giving Beckett a decent amount of milk until this past week when I got my period again and the milk supply almost completely diminished. It has been a sad week of packing up my breastfeeding supplies but I keep reminding myself to look at the positive – he had a great start to life with over five months of breast milk and I did the best I could.

There is a lot of pressure on women to breastfeed today. It is wonderful that women are being encouraged to give this gift to their babies but the flip side to it is that it creates tons of guilt when it doesn’t go well and a mom chooses to or is forced to quit. I know women who have had no chance at breastfeeding due to breast surgery, cancer or the baby is allergic to its mother’s milk. I will be the first to admit that before Beckett, I judged women for not nursing; I felt they were robbing children of the amazing nutrition that comes with breastfeeding. I had no idea the challenge that was ahead of me and that sometimes it just doesn’t work out.

It’s amazing what we will do for our children. I was very close to continuing on a path of taking a medication that had already proven to be bad for my physical and mental health just for Beckett’s sake. Even today I sometimes still question whether or not I did the right thing by going off of DP and I ask myself where things went wrong; and then I snap back into reality and remember that I made the right decision and it wasn’t my fault! I tried everything!

As a society, and particularly as moms, we put so much pressure on ourselves to do everything perfectly. Whether you are a parent or not, I hope in reading this you will be kind to yourself about whatever thing that hasn’t gone exactly as planned for you. I had the pregnancy of my dreams, the delivery of my dreams and have a perfect, health, happy baby. Just being able to have a baby at all is such a gift! I’d say I am three for three so it’s time to move forward and focus on taking care of me so I can take care of Beckett.

I am happy to report that I have been making Beckett a homemade formula for the past several weeks. I decided that since quitting breastfeeding freed up some time I wanted to give him what I found to be the next best thing: fresh goat milk based formula. I will post the recipe for those interested in my next post and tell you more about it (and promise it won’t take me as long to post again! Been busy battling breastfeeding 😉 ).

I hope that whatever happens in your life that doesn’t go according to plan, you can find peace within yourself and enjoy the new plan that unfolds. And that you take a second to check yourself before you judge others on their choices because as clichéd as it sounds, you just can’t truly understand another person’s path without walking in their shoes.

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Just over three weeks ago I gave birth to my first child, Beckett Harrison House. It was an amazing experience and thought I would share my experience giving birth naturally as I know it is not the most popular option, and is often viewed as something horrific and unthinkable for many. I certainly would never judge people who choose to have medical interventions and can completely understand why one would opt for an epidural, as the pain in labor is unbearable at times. In writing this post, I figured there must be some people out there who might be interested in hearing a little about my journey. I hope that for anyone wanting to give birth naturally, my story will help you realize that you absolutely can.

My labor was approximately twelve hours from start to finish. I was told that is a fairly short labor for a first time mother – it felt even shorter because I was already dilated to 5 cm when I got to the hospital (you have to get to 10 cm in order to push the baby out). I was not at the hospital for the first four hours and the labor was fairly easy; I could carry on a conversation, only having to stop when a contraction would come, about every five and a half minutes. Contractions would last about a minute at most. My guess is most women experience this stage of labor at home and feel the same way – that this stage of labor is uncomfortable but manageable. Once we got to the hospital, contractions began to get a little closer but not much more intense. I was able to play a game on my iPhone (love Bejeweled!) in between contractions and could move into different positions to make the contractions a little less painful. I would squat, sit on my giant exercise ball that I brought with me, kneeled on all fours, etc…it was definitely helpful to be able to move around. In most countries women give birth in many different positions and not laying flat on their backs. Laying flat forces the body to work against gravity and therefore makes labor more uncomfortable and difficult.

From hour six to eight, labor began to get more intense; contractions were becoming more painful and I was having shorter breaks in between. At that point, I had my mom holding one hand and Karl, my husband, holding the other. They were amazing coaches who gave me the encouragement and strength I needed to get through each contraction. Thank goodness our bodies are given the gift of breaks in between contractions to make labor bearable. I used those breaks to mentally prepare me for the next one. I wish I could tell you that this point was as painful as it was going to get…but it wasn’t.

At about hour eight of labor my water broke and labor intensity jumped to a whole new level; there were only tiny breaks in between contractions and the pressure that accompanied each contraction became incredibly intense. The tiny breaks, however, were just enough to allow me to regroup and stay focused on getting through this stage of labor. I never got to the place where I was serious about taking the drugs but it definitely crossed my mind, as this point would be my last opportunity to ask for them. I just kept reminding myself that I had made it this far and in no time, the pain would come to an end and an amazing gift would be waiting for me.

By hour eleven of labor, I had made it through the worst of it and it was time to wait for the doctor to come so I could push. Despite what I had heard, pushing was actually not painful and felt a bit relieving! I was very lucky that I only had to push about twenty to thirty minutes and had very little pain accompanying it. It was a very surreal experience pushing another life out of my body and into the world around me and felt very much like a dream. Beckett came out with eyes wide open and we shared a natural high that I had heard would be my reward for giving birth naturally. It was absolutely worth it.

I think the best part of giving birth naturally was the recovery process. I was in very little pain (I only took a couple of Motrin the first two days) and felt very alert and ready to bond with my baby. Beckett also seemed to be very responsive and awake as well which made our time together those first hours even more incredible.

Giving birth naturally was not easy. It was not pleasant. If your pregnancy has no complications, it is definitely doable and if you are thinking about doing it, know that you definitely can. Women have been giving birth for centuries without drugs, and their tolerance for pain was not any higher than ours. Below is a list of things that helped me make it through the process (which may come in handy, drugs or not!):

  • Karl and I took a “Bradley method” natural childbirth class where Karl successfully learned how to be a fantastic coach as well as what to expect in labor.
  • I packed lots of hydrating liquids including water, coconut water and Recharge (a natural Gatorade type drink) and drank liquids nonstop from the time labor began in hour one. I really believe this was a HUGE help.
  • I forced myself to eat a large meal before leaving for the hospital and also brought snacks to eat during labor. Though I was not hungry (and they don’t really want you to eat at the hospital in labor either) I knew that having the energy to get through labor was imperative and forced myself to eat small snacks such as an energy bar, a hard boiled egg and fruit.
  • I brought my giant exercise ball which was great for using during labor as well as a homeopathic “icy hot” type lotion called Sombra to relieve the muscle pain (great to have for aches and pains in general!). I had Karl rub some on a couple of times and it really helped alleviate the low back pain.
  • Having my iPhone was a great distraction when I was still in the earlier part of labor and had hours to go. Bring something to do to help the time pass when the pain isn’t too severe.
  • I asked to only have intermittent monitoring (they check the baby’s heart rate just once an hour instead of constantly) so I could freely move around for most of labor which was really great so that I could get into more comfortable positions such as squatting, sitting on my ball, etc…

I hope that no matter how you choose to give birth, you have a healthy and uncomplicated delivery.

Written by Lana House

Studio Owner, House Pilates

Beckett’s photograph taken by BeautiesandBabies.com

It was 2004. I was in my intense Pilates apprentice program, learning to become a Pilates instructor.  During the program, I decided that I wanted to become the healthiest version of myself and decided after almost ten years, that it was time to get off the birth control pills. Not only did it make me a crazy person for one week every 28 days, but something about having a controlled period month after month didn’t seem like the healthiest idea to me anymore. I quit cold turkey in November of ’04.

Fast forward to November of ’05. My period had been a no-show ever since I  had quit the pill a full year before. I had heard that it isn’t uncommon to go a few months without a period after getting off the pill but by a year later, I was beginning to really worry. My family and friends were getting worried, too. My boyfriend at the time (now husband), Karl, and my parents, insisted I go see a doctor. Though hesitant to be put back on some sort of medication, I followed the advice of Karl and my parents and went to see my OBGYN that month. Sure enough, the doctor gave me two options: 1. Go back on the pill to regulate my period or 2. Try Metformin, a drug prescribed to patients with Type II Diabetes. Apparently Metformin had a side effect that started women’s periods when they had disappeared. She said she had no idea why I wasn’t menstruating as I was a healthy weight and everything else looked good in the ultrasound. The visit was maybe twenty minutes.

I did not like the idea of option 1 – I felt like going back on birth control would only suppress the problem and not solve it. What was I going to do years down the road when I wanted to have children?

It seemed my only option was the second one. I began taking Metformin one tablet twice a day and was told to up the dosage to two pills three times a day when my body was ready. Well, my body never was ready. It HATED Metformin! I was nauseous every time I took it, was EXHAUSTED constantly and had very little appetite. Even when I picked up the prescription from the pharmacy the pharmacist said to me, “You look so young and healthy. Why is your doctor making you take this?” I was wondering the same damn thing.

Six weeks after giving the medication a try, I decided that wouldn’t be the answer for me; not only did I not get my period, but I couldn’t go on feeling like that every day of my life. I spent the next three months taking nothing, and still no sign of my period.  I was starting to feel hopeless. I had a conversation one day with my sister, Larissa, who casually mentioned to me that she had a friend whose friend had also struggled with the same issue; that person had come to realize that her diet – specifically her intake of soy – had made her lose her period. This really struck a chord with me as I had been eating a lot less meat and a lot more soy in the last couple years of my life. Hearing this from my sister, I knew in my gut this probably had something to do with what was going on in my body and knew exactly who to call.

I went and met with a clinical nutritionist, Debra Santelli Delson, who specifically uses food and plant-based supplements as medicine. Immediately she made me feel so much better. She spent over an hour with me, telling me how many women come to her with the same issue and that she can always successfully get their bodies back on track. She helped me to realize that I had never had a normal period growing up and that meant that she and I would have to work to regulate it naturally for the first time in my life.

This nutritionist absolutely changed my life. Within three months of working with her, more than 18 months since going off the pill, I got my period back, totally naturally. She had me cleansing, taking all sorts of different plant and herb based supplements and drastically changed the way that I ate. Debra so thoroughly described how the body works and how each and every part affect each other so that I completely understood why I wasn’t getting my period until now and how we could change my body for the better. It was truly incredible.

Taking the natural route was definitely not the fastest, cheapest or easiest way to go about fixing my problem. It took over three years to have a regular cycle, with a lot of discipline and dedication on both of our parts. But through the entire process, I kept reminding myself that someday when I want to get pregnant, I am setting myself up for a healthy, natural pregnancy.

Here I am, over six years since I first met Debra, pregnant, after just a couple of months of “trying”.  The most important thing I learned from my journey is that I should always trust my gut. Doctors, nutritionists, therapists, trainers, teachers…have a wealth of great information from so many different perspectives that only you and your gut can tell you who has the right information for you.  As clichéd as it sounds, I truly now understand what people mean when they say, “follow your heart”, and I hope you will, too.

Written by Lana House

Owner, House Pilates