A Gift of Love

by Erin Kaspar-Frett, CPM, LM, MSM

Benefits For Mom and Baby

Most won’t argue and it’s been proven through extensive research* that breastfeeding offers numerous advantages to infants, mothers, and families. In addition to the increased maternal/infant bonding, breastfed infants enjoy decreases in: diarrhea, respiratory infections, ear infections, bacteremia, bacterial meningitis, botulims, urinary tract infections, and necrotizing enterocolitis. The maternal health benefits are plentiful as well, and include: an earlier return to pre-pregnancy weight, reduced risk of post partum hemorrhage, ovarian cancer, premenopausal breast cancer, and hip fractures in the postmenopausal period. Studies also show a correlation between breastfeeding and reduction in SIDS, insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, lymphoma, allergic disease, and other chronic digestive diseases and has been linked to enhancement of cognitive development. Lastly, there is the added benefit of cost reduction. Formula for an average year is over $1000.00.

Finding Good Support

Sometimes a woman decides she wants to breastfeed and is met with opposition from her family or friends. She may wonder to whom she can turn for support. Some, who lack support, give up breastfeeding and assume failure. A mother can contact a lactation consultant, a La Leche League leader, a midwife, a pediatrician, or a friend that is experienced in breastfeeding. As a society, we are becoming more supportive of breastfeeding as a whole, but we may still need to seek out that support.

I encourage all pregnant and breastfeeding moms to consider attending at least one LLL meeting to obtain or give support. For more information on LLL and to find a leader and meetings in your area contact LLL international at 1-800-LALECHE (US) or (847) 519-7730 or visit their web site detailing how to find leaders in your area at http://www.lalecheleague.org/leaderinfo.html

Getting Off to a Good Start

Studies have shown that breastfeeding progresses most smoothly when the baby is given to the mother at the moment of their birth.* When this happens, babies will typically begin breastfeeding within the first hour of their birth. They have a built in instinctual ability to know how to nurse. Mothers that have prepared themselves with reading and LLL meetings are typically relaxed and ready to nurse when they meet their new baby. The first latch on may be a bit awkward for both, but in time, both mom and baby will be pros!

Nursing on demand is highly recommended by the AAP as the ideal way to feed.* Feeding on-demand serves mom and baby. Baby grows confident in his mother’s ability to meet his needs when he requests them to be met, while mother’s body learns the amount of milk that baby needs. It is a demand, then supply system, only taking a day or two to catch up, if baby has a growth spurt.

Nutrition During Breastfeeding

What goes into a mother’s body while she is breastfeeding her baby is what becomes the nutrition her baby receives. Babies are building muscle, fat, bones, and brain cells. The best foods to eat during breastfeeding are similar to the best foods to eat during pregnancy. Whole foods, a well-rounded diet, and plenty of liquids will benefit both the mother and the baby. Avoiding caffeine, cigarette smoke, and recreational drugs is highly recommended during breastfeeding.

Remembering to take the time to eat is sometimes difficult for busy mothers. Frequent small meals are often recommended to the breastfeeding mother. Nursing mothers need at least 2700 calories and 65 grams of protein a day. Having an easy healthy snack and fluids available at all times is helpful for mothers who are busy or on the go.

Some babies will be sensitive to certain foods, becoming fussy or spitting up after the mother eats them. As the mother pays attention to what she had to eat or drink prior to a fussing episode, she will often realize what is causing the baby’s discomfort. Relaxation during feeding times also benefits the baby. A tense mother often makes for a tense baby, in the same way that a relaxed mother often makes for a relaxed baby.

What About Dad?

Non-nursing parents sometimes wonder how they can participate in their child’s life if they can’t provide sustaining nourishment. For some families, it works to have dad bottle feed expressed breast milk. For some, however, this feels awkward or the baby doesn’t relax or even feed at all. And yet there are so many important roles a non-breastfeeding parent plays in the life of their child. Fathers can hold, rock, bathe, feed solids when it is time, and dress and play with their children. These things can create a special time with their baby that provides a similar bond to the one mothers have during breastfeeding.

Weaning Your Baby

Many mothers are concerned about how long their baby will nurse. This is often a topic of controversy amongst care providers. Some mothers have been told that if they become pregnant with another baby, their breastfeeding baby or toddler must wean. This is not so. Breastmilk is still beneficial to an older infant or toddler even once his mother becomes pregnant again. Weaning is not required in most circumstances for the older baby.

Weaning is rarely recommended for the healthy mother and baby before 12 months of age, and only then because of medical reasons. The best approach to use for weaning is one that feels comfortable to you. Whatever approach to weaning a family decides to use, the important thing to remember is to gradually decrease nursing until the child is weaned. Except in rare circumstances, it is difficult for a baby or toddler to suddenly have things dramatically changed in their lives. This can be a disruption in their routine and cause anxiety for the child. Often, weaning will be up and down, as a child gets hurt or needs comfort, but it will happen.

Relax and Enjoy Breastfeeding

Above all, I remind mothers that the breastfeeding period is a special time, a time like no other in the mother’s or baby’s life. The baby will have the opportunity to get to know their mother during the time they spend nursing. The mother and baby will discover how important they are to one another during this time. The housework will still be there when the baby is done nursing. Work will still be there when the mother is ready to return. Friends and family members will gladly resume closeness when the mother feels ready to invest in these relationships again. The mother can simply relax and enjoy this special time between herself and her baby.

Looking for more breastfeeding  info? Check out this online guide: http://babychangingstation.com/breastfeeding/

*Documentation recorded in the American Academy of Pediatrics Policy Statement- Pediatrics Volume 100, Number 6, December 1997, pp 1035-1039 http://www.aap.org/policy/re9729.html. For a list of resources on the topic, please contact Erin Kaspar-Frett, erin@earthmothermidwife.com

Asparagus: Some Straight Stalk

The size of the asparagus doesn’t necessarily mean better quality or flavor; it just means the stalk has more growing time than others and is more mature. Look for bright green or violet stalks that are firm. When gently squeezed, it should squeak slightly.

Trim the bottoms of the stalks and wrap them in a wet paper towel. You can refrigerate them for up to 3 days. Or you can cut the ends off and put them in a glass of water with a plastic bag over them and store them in the fridge. Either way, when they begin to get slimy, it’s time to toss and visit the market again.

Thyme Roasted Asparagus and Potatoes
Chunk up asparagus and quarter potatoes. Toss with Olive Oil, about 1 Tbsp, and fresh Thyme. Roast at 400 for 20-25 min until tender.

Lemon Asparagus and Eggs
Steam asparagus for 10 minutes, run under cold water to cool. Drizzle with EVOO and freshly squeezed lemon juice. Top with chopped hard boiled egg, green onion or chives, and salt to taste.

Ginger Shrimp with Asparagus
Sauté cut up asparagus in 1 Tbsp EVOO with peeled and deveined shrimp, sliced shallots, and freshly grated ginger. Toss with fresh mint before serving.

The Humility of a Cup of Tea

by David Duckler, Certified Tea Expert of Infinitea Teahouse

When people ask what convinced me to spend the last year living in the tea-growing regions of China and train in the art of tea, I always think back to the same story. A few years ago I was sitting in a farmer-woman’s tea shop when she asked me if I had ever heard of white tea. “Of course,” I said. White tea is well-known in China as beautiful silver buds once reserved as tribute for the emperor himself.

“No, I mean real white tea.” I was a little indignant at this point. Either I had completely overlooked a major branch of Chinese tea in my research, or this woman assumed that I knew nothing. She continued, “Years ago, before we had imperial grade this and tribute grade that, people served tea to their guests as a gesture of hospitality. Sometimes, there would be famines, and the people were too poor to buy tea leaves. They would prepare a pot of boiling water, and go through the same motions of serving each cup. They would then invite their guest to sip white tea.”

That story of hers is what I love about tea-drinking in Asia. The main point of tea is to bring people together, and show hospitality. Drinking a pot of tea with friends is something special. There is the feeling of shared experience, there is the wonderful opportunity to refill each other’s cups.

Great tea is enjoyed both in times of plenty and hardship. The fact that Indian chai is so creamy comes from the fact that the tea leaves once cost so much money that using half milk and half tea was a more affordable drink. Japanese genmaicha began when people discovered that adding toasted grain to green tea made the leaves go further.

While there is snobbery around tea in certain circles, this betrays the true significance of a pot of tea. Around the world, gracious hosts are preparing the best tea they can afford, and enjoying it to the fullest with their friends and guests.

What’s Happening at Hahn's

It’s that time of the year again to dig the grill out of the garage, fire up the charcoal and cook up some good eats!

At Hahn’s you won’t believe the selection of grillable eats.

Fine cut steaks, fresh seafood, brats, and chicken are sold fresh and frozen for when the weather is just right.

Choose from a fine selection of Louie’s Finer Meats from Cumberland with more than 60+ varieties of brats. Beeler’s hot dogs, brats, and ham steaks and Applegate Organic Chicken Sausages. Yum!  Great organic, grass fed and natural beef options like Wierlein Farms, Laura’s and Meyers. And then there are the birds from Smart Organic Chicken. There aren’t enough days in the week to enjoy such good eats before you want to start over.

So stop in today for the charcoal, fuel, and good eats! And don’t forget the beer!

Herbalism Revived

by Kristina Beuning, Sunbow Farms

With the growth of the local food movement across the United States, you may have heard of the ‘term’ CSA in conversation with others, in the news or on a flyer.  While many different farm-specific definitions exist, the essence of the term remains the same regardless of your location.  Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) consists of a community of individuals who by purchasing shares in a farm pledge their support to a local farm operation.  As a result, the farmland becomes, either legally or spiritually, the community’s farm, with the growers and consumers providing mutual support and sharing the risks and benefits of food production.   So, how does Community Supported Herbalism (CSH) fit into this framework?   Herbal-focused CSHs aim to take the CSA experience beyond just food and a connection to the land, to ‘food as medicine’, using plants for healing, wellness, and education.  Like a CSA, CSH members purchase shares in the farm and in return are provided a box of fresh herbs and herbal wellness products each month.   Also like CSAs, variations on this theme are developing as this grassroots healing movement expands within the United States.

Herbalism has a long tradition of use outside of conventional medicine. In fact, plants have been used for medicinal purposes long before recorded history.

Herbalism has a long tradition of use outside of conventional medicine.  In fact, plants have been used for medicinal purposes long before recorded history. Ancient Chinese and Egyptian papyrus writings describe medicinal uses for plants. Other indigenous cultures around the world have used herbs for healing rituals and therapies throughout their history.  Interestingly, when these geographically disparate herbalist traditions were compared, researchers found that people from completely different parts of the world tended to use the same or similar plants for the same purposes.  In the early 1800s, scientists began to extract and modify the active ingredients from plants, synthetically manufacturing their own version of plant compounds.  Over time, the use of herbal medicines declined in favor of drugs.  Yet, over the last two decades in many Western Countries public dissatisfaction with the cost and side effects of prescription medications has sparked an interest in returning to natural or organic remedies for many ailments.

One way herbalists have reached out to their communities to share this traditional knowledge of plants is by the development of these Community Supported Herbalism cooperatives such as the one recently started at Sunbow Farm in Eau Claire, WI.  Owner and farmer, Kristina Beuning, has teamed up with two herbalists, Lisa Yakesh and Judy Behrens (a member of the American Herbalist Guild (see www.americanherbalistsguild.com) to grow local and, in most cases, native plants that have documented healing properties.    A Sunbow CSH share consists of a wide variety of herbal medicine preparations made from herbs organically-grown on the farm. In general, they contain formulas that address a variety of common conditions such as colds, flus, digestive issues, sleep, stress, and minor skin problems.   Each month’s box includes at least two 1 oz salves, a 1 oz herbal extract, fresh herbs, 3 oz bar of hand-milled soap and a 2 oz bag of an herbal tea blend .  As with a CSA, a bountiful season results in additional products being included in the box.  The monthly herb packages include information on the specific herbs and usage instructions, and the new herbal remedies for that month focus on seasonally appropriate remedies.  For example, during the start of cold and flu season, the November boxes might feature a calming tea, dried herbs for steaming, and a lung-centered extract.   Each month, products from the previous months are still available so that members can choose what they receive based on their own and their families needs.  Additional products are available for purchase if desired.   One important component of Sunbow CSH is education.  Each month, pick-ups coincide with monthly health education workshops taught by the herbalists .  “Many people may not even be aware of the usefulness of commonplace everyday ‘weeds’ that can probably be found in their own backyard or flower gardens.  For example, yarrow (Achillea millefolium), a common flowering perennial used in drought-tolerant plantings, can be used to staunch the bleeding of a nose or cut,” shared Lisa Yakesh.   As Judy Behrens stated, “Our goal is to make herbs accessible and commonplace for community members to use in the care of their families.  Through education, we hope to raise awareness about the usefulness and necessity of herbal medicine within a grassroots, everyday approach to taking care of ourselves.”

When considering the cost of joining a CSH, think about the last time you went to a doctor or drug store in search of a cure for a minor ailment.  If you sum up the co-pays, the potential lab costs, the prescription costs (and potential side effects), your time, and most importantly whether what was offered really helped solve the problem, it starts to make sense.  Why not try a relatively inexpensive natural alternative first?  Joining a CSH gives you access not only to locally-produced alternative healing products, but also to herbalists who can help you understand and use nature’s gifts of health and wellness.   For more information about Sunbow Farm CSH visit www.sunbowfarm.com or call 715-456-0184.