Curriculum topics for Birth to 5 months include:
- The Flaws in our Modern Birthing Approach
- Stage Specific Recommended Reading and Media
- Pitocin Related Issues
- Birthing Options
- Essential Exchanges Immediately Following Birth
- The First 100 Days
- Breast-feeding (Feeding on Demand and Breast Feeding Frequency/Timeline)
- When and How to Introduce the Breast Pump
- The Ideal Diet for Abundant Breast Milk
- Options for Women Who Cannot Breast-feed
- Post-Pregnancy Weight Loss
- Well Visits
“We must rekindle our knowing of a personal power that can flow with the power of all things and never be exhausted. We must rekindle a faith in a life system that is our matrix and designed to support us. Only through faith in yourself and in your own life can you respond to a new life given you (either your offspring or your own lost self) according to the needs of that new life.”
—from Magical Child by Joseph Chilton Pearce
Humans are remarkably made, complete with our perfect ability to reproduce. However, with modern civilization has come a tragic detour away from the three million years of successful human evolution and away from natural birthing methods. Ever since we removed ourselves from the bosom of Mother Nature, we set into motion a series of events that have compromised our bodies and the development of our children’s bodies. Believing we could improve upon nature was the original mistake. There is no better example of this than the modern process of giving birth.
Modern obstetrics and hospitals have capitalized on the fear and demand around this critical time and replaced it with a system of birth that conflicts with the natural process. Ironically, our “civilized” lifestyles have created compromised individuals who depend on modern medicine to save them from the myriad affronts of modern living. When birth, a totally non-medical event, comes along, modern medicine is immediately sought out. It is the norm today, but that has not always been the case. Up until very recently (the last fifty years, give or take) women gave birth at home, with the aid of midwives. Prior to that, women gave birth on their own, much as wild animals do—in a warm, safe place, usually away from the group, out in nature. We are not suggesting that you forgo medical birth if that does not feel right to you, but we would like to offer you another perspective.
Today, pregnancy and birth are treated as illnesses rather than as completely normal stages of life. As such, the magic of delivering life has been almost completely lost. The practices we follow in the birthing chamber overlook several critical biological (and spiritual) exchanges between mother and child—fundamental building blocks of a baby’s development. We must not dismiss the importance of these exchanges out of arrogance, ignorance, and a sense of technological superiority. We cannot dismiss them and expect health and harmony.
Much of the content in this section is based on traditional indigenous wisdom, the kind that worked for humankind for three million years. We would not be here today if it did not work. Many of these practices have been lost over time, particularly with the decimation of indigenous peoples. You will not read about these practices in mainstream parenting books. Some of the suggestions may seem subtle and nuanced, but we urge you to consider each detail. We included it because we believe it’s an essential part of cultivating the most advantageous life experience for you, your partner, and your baby.
If you and your child are already past this stage and many of the practices we discuss are new to you, do not panic or blame yourself for coming to this information too late. This information has been out of mainstream circulation, and it’s never too late to make meaningful improvements to your parenting methods. Our parents were not raised with this knowledge. Therefore, much healing and understanding is required of all of us, and awareness is the first step in the right direction.
Did you know that in indigenous cultures, it has been documented that babies smile as early as four days after delivery? By contrast, babies in our culture typically begin to smile only after 2 to 2½ months after delivery! Indigenous babies rarely cry; they sleep a fraction of the time that babies in our culture do during the day; and they can sit up, head and back erect, with only gentle assistance on their forearms at two days old! What accounts for the dramatic difference between these babies and ours? The answer is complex but lies within the difference between what we consider normal during childbirth and early infancy and nature’s plan.
Recommended Reading and Viewing
Birth and the developmental stages immediately following birth are complex, and parenting decisions during this time are very personal. In this section, we introduce important concepts and highlight practical applications, but we also urge you to continue your own education. The following books are a great place to start: The Tibetan Art of Parenting by Brown, Farwell, and Nyerongsha; Magical Child by Joseph Chilton Pearce, and The Continuum Concept by Jean Liedloff. We also recommend the documentary, The Business of Being Born, which you can order from our store or online at www.thebusinessofbeingborn.com (this secures the movie for you for 24 hours). The website also offers an online resource for birthing options and a directory of midwives.
The Typical Chain of Events in Modern Childbirth
Birthing females in nature seek a dark, quiet, familiar, and safe place to deliver their offspring. This comfortable environment facilitates relaxation and allows the female to harness her power and focus exclusively on the task of bringing a new life into the world. By contrast, when we in the modern world go into labor, most of us enter a busy, bright, and sterile hospital. Upon entry into this unfamiliar and overwhelming place, our body senses danger and shuts down or significantly slows the labor process. This clearly works against our birthing process and initiates a vicious cycle of unnecessary interventions. What should be a very seamless birth turns into a complicated array of procedures.
Some lucky women give birth easily despite this unnatural chain of events. However, for the majority, there is a fairly predictable snowball effect that takes place. If the birth is scheduled (which is increasingly common, even in the case of vaginal birth) the birthing process is triggered by breaking the water. Next, the mother is given a drug called Pitocin to mimic oxytocin, the natural hormone that stimulates contractions. If labor is in progress when the mother enters the hospital, the hospital setting will interfere with the birthing mother’s instincts and the whole process will stall. Pitocin is then used to recommence labor. Either way, Pitocin is typically used to induce the labor. This would not be necessary if the labor took place in a conducive environment at the right time.
It’s important to understand that Pitocin results in increased contractions and pain levels, but does not necessarily speed up the dilation process. Therefore, labor with Pitocin is typically abnormally painful and lengthy, resulting in the almost inevitable need for an epidural. The epidural gives some relief from the exaggerated pain the woman experiences from the Pitocin but again slows down contractions, resulting in the re-administration of Pitocin to speed them up again. This vicious cycle continues and frequently results in a cesarean section.
The use of drugs and surgery are sometimes very necessary to save the mother or the baby. However, in an alarming number of cases the drugs are used out of convenience and as a reactionary measure to remedy the previous interventions rather than as a necessary savior for mother and baby. Educate yourself about your options so you can be fully aware of the possible side effects of any intervention that you may need to consider during labor.
With all of this said, we want you to know that there are no judgments here. Whether you decide to give birth in a hospital or at home, whether you take an epidural or choose not to use drugs, we want you to know that you have a choice, that there are many options for childbirth, and we want you to feel empowered to make the decisions that are best for you and your family.
For more on this subject, we highly recommend you read “The Truth About Pitocin” by Elaine Stillerman at Massage Today online.
The Birth Plan
A birthing plan is an outline of what you would like to see happen during labor and delivery. While it is certainly a good idea to think about how you want the birth process to unfold, it is also important to have realistic expectations. For example, it is unrealistic for a woman who has gone through pregnancy on the Standard American Diet to go into a mainstream hospital expecting to have a vaginal, drug-free birth. It is unfair for this woman to hold herself to these ideals and consider herself a failure when things do not go as planned. Expecting to have a natural birth under the typical circumstances in a hospital setting is not realistic.
Options outside of the typical hospital setting include birthing centers, hospital birthing centers, and home births. Different birthing techniques include water births, silent births, hypnobirths, and births with a doula. If you are considering using a midwife or a doula, it is important that you do your research because, as with anything, there are some that are better than others. In the near future, we will have resources here to assist you in your search. In the meantime, if you have any suggestions that may help others in their search for the right option for them, please do not hesitate to share them with us!
Facing the Fear of Childbirth
It is completely natural to be afraid of the unfamiliar experience that lies ahead of you. How could you not be afraid? Most of what we know about delivery we have learned from Hollywood, and the stories of childbirth are normally entirely focused on the negative. Facing fear, understanding that we cannot control everything, and learning to embrace the unknown are among the first of many humbling lessons of motherhood.
Essential Exchanges Immediately Following Birth
Upon birth, before anything else occurs, the baby should be placed skin-to-skin on the mother’s breast with the head near and facing the nipple. Unless there is an emergency, this should happen before anything else takes place—before the cord is cut and before the baby is cleaned, weighed, and fingerprinted. The umbilical cord should be left alone as long as there is any activity detectable in it. This has been a long-held practice that is almost invariably ignored by doctors today. Cutting the cord too soon can exacerbate the baby’s difficulty in catching its breath in those first critical moments. The importance of skin-to-skin contact at this point cannot be underscored enough! If you are wearing a hospital gown, make sure that it is removed immediately so your baby can be placed on your bare skin.
What is remarkable about this first skin-to-skin moment is that if the baby is placed close to the nipple, the baby will be attracted to the scent, find the nipple, latch on, and start to suck. The perfect latch is instinctual! Establishing the sucking response in that moment will help you avoid the common issues many modern women have with breast-feeding (e.g., establishing a good latch, bleeding nipples, “tongue-tied” babies, and mastitis). So much happens in that moment! It is what scientists call imprinting. Pheromones are exchanged and a deep bond is formed between you and your baby: you breathe in each other’s scent, the risk of hemorrhage is greatly reduced, and the body releases oxytocin, which stimulates the uterine contractions necessary to release the placenta.
The second critical moment is for your partner and your baby. After your skin-to-skin bonding moment with the baby, your partner should remove his or her shirt and hold the baby chest-to-chest. Again, in this moment, pheromones are exchanged and an instinctual, primal connection is established between your baby and your partner. If possible, your partner can wrap a blanket around the baby and him or herself and spend a few very special moments this way.
Your baby will be covered in vernix caseosa (a natural white substance that protects the baby’s skin and aids immunity), which should sit on the skin for as long as possible and can be used to provide the baby with a continual, gentle massage. This massage is extremely comforting for the baby and can actually assist in sensory development.
If you have given birth in a hospital setting, your baby will be whisked away to get measured and weighed. Your partner should go with your baby and continue to speak so the baby can hear his or her voice. This is an overwhelming moment for the infant just entering the world, so the soothing and familiar voice of your partner will put your baby at ease.
Did You Know?
For the critical transition period from the mother’s to the baby’s oxygen supply, the placenta contains approximately 30 percent of the infant’s blood and oxygen supply in reserve. Nature provides roughly 26 inches of umbilical cord so the baby can exit the womb but remain in constant contact with this reserve supply. The umbilical cord is the perfect length, in fact, for the infant to be clasped to the mother’s breast without breaking the connection with the placenta’s vital oxygen reserves. Mother Nature thought of it all!
Note: If you are giving birth in a hospital setting, having a friend or doula with you who clearly understands your preferences for the critical moments after birth can be very helpful. You and your partner will be overcome with emotions, and the last thing you’ll want to worry about is arguing with the doctors and nurses. The doula can ensure your wishes are met during this time.
If in the hospital, you will be given the option of having your baby sleep either in the nursery or in the room with you. For a few key reasons, we highly recommend “rooming in” with your new baby. First, immediately after birth (and for approximately 100 days after birth), the baby still thinks he or she is a part of you and wants to be as close to you as possible. Your baby will probably spend a lot of time on your chest sleeping and cuddling. This is the most sacred time and one of the sweetest moments in life for both mother and child.
The second reason rooming in is so important is because, even if instructed not to, nurses are likely to give your baby formula and/or sugar water to keep him or her happy and quiet in the nursery. This varies from hospital to hospital, but with long, late night shifts and anywhere between eight and fifteen babies in the nursery, the nurses are generally exhausted and will do whatever is necessary in order to keep themselves sane. However, ensuring that your baby receives 100 percent breast milk is of utmost importance at this time! Your body produces a substance called colostrum for the first 24 to 48 hours after birth. Colostrum serves to seed the “good flora” in the intestine and sets the stage for proper digestion and elimination for the rest of your child’s life. The colostrum is also the carrier of all the mother’s immunities into baby. You only produce colostrum for a brief time, so you only have a limited number of feedings to make sure your baby gets all of the colostrum it needs. It is imperative that you do not miss any of these early feedings!
It can be very helpful to have someone there with you during those first few nights. If your partner cannot join you for whatever reason, it is a good idea to ask a friend, family member, or hired caregiver to stay with you. Even if you did not have many drugs during the birth process, the experience can make you feel woozy and tired, and it is extremely helpful to have someone there to help you with the baby.
The First 100 Days
After the incredible closeness the mother and baby experience while the baby is in the womb, a soft and safe landing into the mother’s warm and welcoming arms is necessary to ease the transition for them both. The sight, smell, feel, taste, and sound of the mother is all the baby knows as he or she emerges from the womb. This first 100 days following birth is one of the most critical and impressionistic times of a person’s life. Because these are the first experiences, the baby has no point of comparison, no additional factors to consider when evaluating the surroundings, so the baby takes in his or her experiences directly, without any filter. The adjustment from the soft, warm, enveloping world from which the baby just emerged is a shocking one, but our evolutionary history has prepared us for this and the baby is ready to make this leap, to take his or her place in the warmth, safety, and security of the mother’s arms.
However, what our evolutionary history has not prepared us for is a giant leap into a world where we are surrounded by synthetic materials, fluorescent lighting, lifeless toys, plastic bottles, inertness, and chemical smells. What qualifies as a “normal” environment for newborns today is in stark contrast with the more natural, intimate kinds of environments for newborns that have served human evolution for millions of years. This violent contrast between the baby’s experience in the womb and its introduction to our manufactured world may understandably result in postpartum depression for the new mother as well as agony and confusion for the baby.
Taking cues from ancient cultures and tribal communities, there are steps we can take to get closer to nature’s intended transition from womb to world. These include the in-arms period, co-sleeping, and breast-feeding on demand. Often, people carry prejudices, stereotypes, and criticisms against these practices. If this is true of you, we ask that you try to keep an open mind and weigh your opinions more carefully. Are these your authentic opinions or the voices of others? Do you have preconceived negative images and associations with the “type of people” who do these things? Where do these images come from? Ask yourself these questions as you take in information and form judgments, and, as always, listen to your heart and do what feels right for you and for your growing family.
The In-Arms Period
For millions of years, newborns were held close to their mothers from the moment they emerged from the womb. Of course many babies in our modern society have been deprived of this, but that does not mean the mother’s and baby’s natural instinct and desire for this closeness has changed. For millions of years preceding “civilized” culture (and in some tribal communities today), an infant’s life was in full swing from the time he or she emerged into the world. Although asleep a lot of the time, a baby grew accustomed to the mother’s voice, smells, motions, rhythms, textures, temperature, and the overall feeling of safety that comes with being held against the body. A baby felt included, comforted, and cared for, as if his or her signals were telepathically communicated and received. In this mother-and-child dance of unity, the baby was able to engage with its new environment, to learn about it from a place of safety and security.
The 100-day in-arms period helps to establish a feeling of security, peace, and harmony for the baby. These first 100 days set a solid foundation for the baby’s conception of the world, which the baby will use to evaluate his or her place in the world throughout his or her life.
One concern that’s commonly raised is that if we give a newborn baby too much attention, this will prevent him or her from becoming independent and self-reliant. On the contrary, a sufficient in-arms phase will bolster a child’s confidence and sense of security such that he or she feels safe enough to explore the world. A baby uses this time to observe the surroundings before interacting with them, and this observation period helps to prepare the baby for independent interaction at the next stage of development.
However, the manner in which we approach the in-arms phase is important to consider. This phase is not one in which the child is consistently the center of attention. On the contrary, it is one in which the baby is simply present, in the midst of normal life and activity. From this vantage point, your baby learns about your world (not a contrived world centered exclusively around him or her), constantly observing and experiencing life with you. Your baby absorbs experiences of the “real” world, not a manufactured world in which adults are bored out of their minds and babies are given plastic imitations of adult tools to play with.
A baby is instinctively curious and wonderfully receptive to the world. A baby wants to be exposed to all that is LIFE! Walks, parties, quiet time, nature, siblings, cooking, swimming—a baby wants to experience all of these things authentically, from the safety of your arms at first. With increased exposure to these positive experiences, a baby will become confident and secure in his or her ability to interact with these situations and will naturally begin to explore on his or her own.
In addition, “in arms” can actually mean in a sling or any other type of baby carrier worn against the front or the back. Traditionally, babies were usually carried on the back. In African cultures today, babies are still carried on the back in a cloth sling wrapped around the mother’s waist. In fact, many African nannies carry the babies they care for this way. Natalia recalls: “I learned first-hand to carry my babies this way when my daughter was born, affording me so much flexibility—allowing me to go about nearly all of my business and housework without ever putting her down. I used to run errands up and down the streets of Manhattan with Thandi and Tommy on my back, with them wrapped against me, using nothing more elaborate than a sarong.” Carrying your baby on your back frees up your hands so you have your full range of movements and activities available to you. Again, this period is not one in which life should stop or drastically change—we urge you to continue living your life fully with your baby now a part of the experience.
With all of this said, we understand that our societal structures do not create the most conducive situations for everyone to fully embrace the first 100-day in-arms period. We understand that everyone’s situation is unique, so implement this to the extent that you are able; the first 100 days, 30 days, or 5 days of consistent physical closeness with your baby will make all the difference in his or her development. Also note that the baby does not have to be solely in the mother’s arms; time spent in the father’s arms, grandmother’s arms, or the arms of a loving caretaker is also invaluable.
So get yourself a good sling, Ergo or Baby Bjorn or find someone who can teach you to wrap your baby against you with a towel or sarong, and make sure you or someone else is carrying that new baby as much possible!
Note: All babies do not need the same amount of time in-arms, but it should always be offered. Some babies will thrive only if given plenty of in-arms time; others will not need as much. Let your baby be your guide and determine for him/herself when separation is desirable.
A natural extension of the in-arms phase includes co-sleeping. Progressing from day to night does not need to break the bond a baby has with his or her family. At night, a baby is still learning and experiencing the world—the soft (or not so soft!) sound of your breathing, the warmth of your skin, the movements made throughout the night—these are all just an extension of the many experiences that your baby absorbs during the day. The transition from day into night should not be jarring but seamless. Co-sleeping may seem radical or extreme, but considering our millions of years of evolution, what is actually radical is our abrupt departure from this long-established norm of human experience.
Co-sleeping can dramatically diffuse the issue of exhaustion that many new parents experience. If your baby is in bed with you and you sleep topless, your baby can find your breast during the night and feed whenever necessary, barely waking you at all. No need to drag yourself out of bed to the baby’s room, heat up a bottle, or sit in a rocking chair—simply stay bundled in bed and allow your baby to feed as you sleep!
New parents are often concerned that they may roll over on the sleeping infant beside them or smother them with their blankets. However, a sleeping person is not completely unaware or in a coma unless they are extremely intoxicated, heavily drugged, or ill. It is well established that a sober mother will not roll over on her baby (fathers may not be as sensitive, so it is worth considering your partner’s sleeping behaviors). If you are anxious about co-sleeping, a bassinet next to the bed is a good alternative. Although your baby’s sense of touch will not be as stimulated, he or she will still hear and smell you and feel safer here than in another room.
We are often surprised and confused when a baby cries incessantly when placed in a beautiful crib in a beautiful room so carefully prepared for them. However, when placed in that room, separated from the parents (especially at night), a baby feels alone and far from everything he or she knows. Again, during the first 100 days of life, a baby still feels like one with mommy, and any separation can be excruciating.
When the in-arms period is fulfilled and your baby is ready (normally between 1 and 3 years), he or she will express a desire for a separate bed. It is a good idea to continue co-sleeping for as long as the arrangement works for the family. If your baby is happy to nap in the crib or bassinet, you may find that’s a great segue to solitary sleeping and occasionally try it at night. You might find your baby makes the transition earlier than you were expecting. There’s no telling how independent a baby brought into the world like this can be. Such babies are wired to feel safe, protected, and fulfilled. In fact, as brilliantly documented in Jean Liedloff’s The Continuum Concept, these babies are extremely confident and do not throw fits when it comes time to leave them with a caregiver or try something new.
Lastly, people often worry about their sex life during this time of co-sleeping. If you worry about this, too, let us remind you that there are no rules that confine sex to the bedroom! Find another comfortable space in your home and enjoy the change of scenery!
“There is no evidence that God made a mistake when he constructed breasts that don’t yield Similac or Enfamil. Unfortunately, many pediatricians don’t seem to believe that, so if you are breastfeeding your baby and his weight gain does not match the charts, your doctor is likely to insist on switching him to formula. That’s bad for you and worse for your child.”
—How to Raise a Healthy Child in Spite of Your Doctor, Robert Mendelsohn, MD
The decision to breast-feed your infant is one that will stay with your child long after the first year or two of life. In addition to the physiological bonding that breast-feeding facilitates between mother and child, breast-feeding has proven benefits for the development and health of your child. Some benefits to point out include:
- Higher IQ scores later in childhood
- Enhanced neuro-developmental performance
- Lower incidence of the following conditions: allergies and asthma, bacteremia and meningitis, childhood lymphoma, chronic constipation, diabetes, gastrointestinal infections, infantile eczema, inflammatory bowel disease, iron deficiency anemia, lower respiratory tract infections, sudden infant death syndrome, and urinary tract infections.
Despite the fact that pediatricians put their stamp of approval on commercial formulas, there is simply no substitute for breast milk. Perhaps the most important difference between formula and breast milk is the effect the latter has on brain development. Breast milk contains long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids such as docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and arachidonic acid (ARA), which are essential for brain development. Recognizing this, formula manufacturers have begun to include synthetic variations of DHA and ARA, touting that infant formula is now as “close to breast milk as ever.” However, the supplemented DHA and ARA do not function the same in a baby’s body as do the natural forms, and there is now evidence that the addition of DHA and ARA may actually be dangerous to the health of a growing baby. Again, at the end of the day, there is simply no substitute for the perfect “cocktail” of vitamins and nutrients that Mother Nature has created in breast milk. To learn more on this topic, click here.
There are also physical advantages for the mother that should not be discounted. Not only will your baby thrive on the milk you provide when adhering to the diet principles of Life Force Families, but you will also attain the best shape of your life. Breast-feeding will help make both of you vibrant and healthy, and is quite possibly a mother’s best tool in raising a truly joyful child.
With all this said, there are several tricks of the trade that will make your breast-feeding experience flawlessly enjoyable!
Nursing On Demand
Most doctors, nurses, and mainstream parenting books assert that you need to get your baby on an “every three hours” feeding schedule. However, forcing your baby into a three-hour feeding schedule before he or she is ready for it is a recipe for stress and insufficient breast-milk production, and it normally results in the need for supplementation. The most important thing to remember about nursing is that it is all about supply and demand. A suckling baby is not merely taking in what he/she needs to nourish the body today, but is literally preparing the mother’s body for his/her growing needs tomorrow. A suckling baby is sending the mother’s mammary glands the message to make more milk tomorrow than they made today, because the baby will be bigger tomorrow! Genius, isn’t it?!
It may seem like your baby is endlessly hungry and you may wonder if something is wrong, but this is really an effective process of demanding milk now so the supply is there tomorrow. Therefore, let your baby direct the frequency and duration of feedings, especially in the first 8 to 12 weeks, when the milk supply is being fully established. Trust nature and have faith that your baby knows best and is working hard to establish the necessary milk supply for his/her growing body.
Feeding on demand can be challenging in the first several weeks, as you will probably feel like your baby is permanently attached to your nipple! You will spend what seems like countless hours on the couch or on the bed nursing. If you are not mentally prepared for this time, it may be difficult for you. However, if you are mentally prepared to feed around the clock in those early days, it probably won’t be as difficult as you expect! When else do you get to lounge around all day and completely relax? Enjoy these quiet times with your new baby, as they will likely become some of your fondest, most precious memories.
Remember, the frequency of feedings is only intense in the early weeks when your baby’s stomach is so small. (One of the main reasons a baby cannot feed every three hours from the very beginning is that a baby’s stomach is too small to hold the amount of milk that would be necessary to provide three hours of satiation.) Breast-feeding on demand requires such a small sacrifice of time in the grand scheme of your life, yet is invaluable and will pay off continually throughout your child’s development. Find someone else to do the laundry and answer your e-mails. It’s a few weeks for a lifetime of gain! Anyone can do your chores. Only you can nurse your baby.
Breast-feeding will definitely get easier and easier with time. Once the milk supply is established, you and your baby will fall into a very predictable and easy feeding schedule. After about three months, breastfeeding will end up being a pleasant experience all the way through weaning.
Approximate Frequency and Timelines for Breast-feeding
- 2–4 weeks = up to 10–14 feedings per day*
- 4–8 weeks = 8–12 feedings per day*
- 8–12 weeks = 8–10 feedings per day (should be getting close to every 2–3 hours)
- 3–8 months = 5–6 feedings per day
- 8–12 months = 2–3 feedings per day
- Beyond 12 months = 1–2 feedings per day
*If the baby naturally transitions to feeding every three hours before the specified timelines, how wonderful for you and your baby! However, this is not typical, so be prepared to feed more often for a period of time. Your baby will be able to maintain a three-hour schedule when his or her stomach gets large enough.
Introducing the Breast Pump
Introducing the breast pump too early can compromise milk production. While your body is establishing the milk supply, you need to be able to match what the baby will do (which is suckle beyond the point of emptying the breast), which can be tedious with a breast pump. Therefore, you will be far better off in the long run if you can reserve those early weeks virtually exclusively for breast-feeding and not use the pump.
However, having to go back to work in the early days while breast-feeding is a reality for many mothers, so we must do the best we can under the circumstances. If you have to go back to work before the milk supply is established (before 12 weeks), just remember to pump as long as the baby would nurse. This means you will have to pump to empty and then keep pumping for approximately 15 to 20 minutes after.
Another important note: women who are overly concerned with getting their babies on a schedule will often think they’re failures because everyone else seems to have it down to a science—but this is not the case! What’s really happening is that other mothers are ignoring their babies’ hunger cues and not boosting their milk supplies for the next day’s increased demand. Babies who are prematurely forced into feeding schedules aren’t getting as much breast milk as they need. Doctors will declare that a baby is not gaining enough weight, calling this “failure to thrive,” and will recommend formula supplementation. At this point, a slippery slope ensues because now the baby is missing a breast-milk feeding every day, which means the next day, when the baby needs more milk, there will actually be less! The mother will have to supplement more and more, until finally she can no longer maintain her milk supply.
If you are in this situation, forget about the clock and listen to your baby’s hunger cues. Allow your baby to suckle as long as necessary. Eat according to the dietary suggestions below and give yourself time to reestablish your milk supply. You can get your supply back with a little effort. Only if absolutely necessary, and after checking with your doctor, you can give your baby goat milk to supplement your supply before it is fully back. Click here for Meyenberg brand powdered goat milk. However, if you do supplement with goat milk, make sure you are pumping for at least as long as your baby is suckling on the bottle.
The Recipe for Bountiful Breast Milk!
There is an ideal diet for increasing and maintaining a bountiful milk supply. Despite what you might be told by well-intentioned advisors, ice cream, beer, meat, and dairy products will not help your body produce more milk! In this case, it would be wiser to take our cues from cows. Cows eat grass to make huge amounts of milk. Therefore, here are the three most important dietary components for producing milk, in order of importance: greens, fruits, and healthy fats. Below are a few guidelines to keep in mind. By incorporating these dietary elements, you will create abundant milk for your little one and enjoy some wonderful foods and juices while you are at it!
- Drink at least 20 ounces of freshly extracted green juice (with apple for sweetness) daily.
- Eat at least 5 servings of fresh, raw fruit daily.
- Do your best to consume at least ½ pound of raw leafy green vegetables and ½ pound of lightly steamed or sautéed leafy green vegetables, such as spinach, kale, or broccoli.
- Enjoy avocados or cold-pressed olive oil, flaxseed oil, or Udo’s Oil to ensure you get enough healthy, raw fat to aid your baby’s brain development and to protect the fatty matter in your own brain, which can get leached by the baby’s needs in utero.
Options for Women Who Cannot Breast-feed
If you cannot breast-feed, for whatever reason, you do have alternative options to infant formula. Goat milk formula or young coconut water are traditional alternatives. You can get unpasteurized, organic coconut water at some health food stores or juice bars, or you can buy young coconuts and pour the water into bottles. You can also purchase boxes of pasteurized coconut water at most grocery stores.
In addition, you can visit MilkShare to find alternatives to receiving banked milk. MilkShare serves only as an educational resource and connection point designed to give mothers who are unable to produce their own milk with some tools to explore private milk donation. Numerous breastfeeding women are willing to graciously offer their extra milk supply to your child(ren). The key is finding those women and MilkShare serves as a portal to locate both donors and recipients alike.
We anticipate that, in this dawning era of enlightenment, more options will become available for mothers who are adopting or who cannot breast-feed. If you have discovered a viable option for mothers who cannot breast-feed, please share your knowledge with us and we will do our best to spread the word to those in this challenging situation.
Post-Pregnancy Weight Loss
Whether you’re twenty-six or forty-six, you can have a healthy, strong, and, yes, lean postnatal body by following the dietary guidelines for your appropriate detox level. See any of Natalia’s books and/or take our assessment survey to determine your detox level. Even if you are breastfeeding, it is ok to follow the Detox diet plans within any of Natalia’s books and you can expect great results (Raw Food Detox Diet, Detox 4 Women, and Raw Food Life Force Energy.)
However, don’t expect to be bikini-ready until at least five months after delivery! On the detox diet, you can still look really great much sooner after delivery; just don’t expect to have that super-lean look until your body naturally decides it is ready to let the last 7 to 8 pounds go. Again, this happens around five months—not coincidentally around the same time you’ll begin breast-feeding less frequently and your baby develops an interest in solids. Before that point, your body will hang on to some of the fat stores whether you are breast-feeding or not, no matter how little you eat or how much you exercise—so don’t kill yourself trying to hurry the process along! Trust your body to know when it’s ready to whittle down to an enviable shape.
If you’re feeling a little impatient and you want to get the weight off more quickly, check with your physician and simply do a four-day juice fast after you have hit the five-month mark. This should be fine even if you are nursing. A short four-day juice fast will quickly get you back to your pre-pregnancy shape; most likely, your body will shrink into an even better shape than you had before! But remember to check with your physician before you start the juice fast.
Note: Your lean shape won’t come back any faster if you stop nursing sooner, so do not use this as a reason to stop breast-feeding prematurely! After five months, you will have your figure back and you will be able to continue nursing until your child weans.
In general, try to avoid plastic and use pacifiers only when you cannot fulfill your baby’s desire to be on the nipple. You can use a pacifier occasionally, but babies who are getting enough time at the breast will not need the additional suckling time a pacifier provides. In addition, pacifiers can ruin the shape of the mouth and teeth; breast-fed babies normally have beautiful mouths.
Below is an excerpt from How to Raise a Healthy Child in Spite of Your Doctor by Dr. Robert Mendelsohn, a pediatrician who explains the business behind pediatrics and provides practical advice for when a visit to your doctor is necessary vs. when it’s wasteful and potentially harmful. We are not pushing an anti-well-visit agenda here, but the question of well visits warrants further reflection. However, well visits may not be optional if you have to maintain paperwork for your child’s school and camps and such.
“Although professional groups have recommended that the value of preventive child health care can be validated by conducting controlled studies that follow patients over many years, little research has been done. The three studies that I have seen offered no support to pediatricians who demand that their patients visit them on a regular basis. The studies focused individually on general health, behavioral patterns and learning abilities, and developmental status, as the end points of the research. As reported in Pediatrics, ‘None of these studies provided evidence that the preventive services given affected the outcomes measured positively.’
In the absence of any evidence that well-baby visits will improve the health of your child, I suggest you avoid them and the risks of needless treatment they present and save your time and money. In all my years as a pediatrician I do not recall ever having discovered a well-baby examination that was not revealed in a timely manner by taking a careful history on the child’s initial visit or by the subsequent development of observable symptoms. [. . .]
Well-baby visits are worthless because they are essentially superficial, and they are superficial because the doctor knows deep in his heart, that they are a waste of time. A study conducted in metropolitan Pittsburgh revealed that pediatricians conduct a well-baby visit in an average of a little more than 10 minutes and then provide advice on child development, potential problems, and similar matters in an average of 52 seconds. Similar findings were reported in New York City, Baltimore, Seattle, Los Angeles, and Rochester, New York.
No doctor can diagnose a symptom-free disease in 10 minutes or give any constructive advice in 52 seconds. If my child were the patient, I wouldn’t even give a doctor the opportunity to try.”
—from How to Raise a Healthy Child in Spite of Your Doctor by Dr. Robert Mendelsohn
The period of time from your baby’s birth through the first 5 months are filled with exponential growth—both for you and for your baby. There will be times when you feel overwhelmed and you may question whether you are even qualified to be a parent! There will be many voices telling you what you should and shouldn’t do and how to care for your child. Kindly listen to their opinions but know that your parenting instincts lie deep within you. Trust your instinctual nature, listen to that soft voice within that is uncluttered with anxiety and fear. When you are up in the quiet of the night, alone with your newborn, listen for that voice and trust its guidance. The wisdom of Mother Nature, the ultimate nurturer, is within all of us and there is much to learn in succumbing and simply allowing her to flow through.
It is OK to feel scared and lonely at times—after all, this is a powerfully new and deeply humbling experience! No matter how many books, websites, and blogs you read, you will never be truly prepared for the vastness of parenthood. It is something you’ll learn only through experience. Let go, embrace the ride, and experience the joy and wonder that this new spirit evokes in you.
Throughout human history, new parents were constantly surrounded with family and friends. Modern society has isolated us from each other in our separate homes and this can lead to extreme feelings of loneliness at a time when you are bursting to share and learn. This is why we created this parenting site. We urge you to join the community, contribute to the discussion, and find parents in your area in the Playdates section of our website. We urge you to utilize these resources as much as possible as you embark on the new journey of parenthood.