Gestational Diabetes – Understanding Blood Sugar in Pregnancy

When I was pregnant with my first daughter, Eden, I was handed the diagnosis of “borderline gestational diabetes” after I did the ‘sugar test’ and was told to watch my diet.

When I was pregnant with my second daughter, Jade, right from the very outset I was told to “watch my diet”.  My midwife helpfully talked about the Glyceamic Index and proteins and reducing processed foods because these are bad to our general health and thus bad for our pregnancies.  This nutritional counselling gave me a whole different outlook on my pregnancy.  Much in contrast to the stereotype of sit back and eat all the foods that you like because your body craves it, and give up exercise because you can, my body became my temple and when it came round to the gestational diabetes test, firstly I was told I had the choice whether I wanted to take it or or not, and secondly reassured that should I get the diagnosis, it didn’t really matter because I should be eating the kind of foods that were low on the Glyceamic Index anyway because high GI foods lead to higher levels of glucose in the blood and these can be passed onto baby.

Recently I came across a wristband that is soon going to be reading sugar trends in our blood.  It already reads blood pressure, which has been incredibly helpful to me because I’ve always had quite low blood pressure and suffer for it.  I realised this would be a very useful tool in pregnancy, both for blood pressure and blood sugar and could even rule out the sugar test completely, because right from the get go of your pregnancy you would be able to see how the foods you are eating are affecting your sugar level trends.

I checked in with my beautiful Midwife, Glenis Paulette, to guest blog on Gestational Diabetes from her perspective and the nutrition that can prevent it, so you can make your own minds up as to the best way for you to manage your levels of glucose in the blood.  Ultimately, the levels of glucose in your blood are what is passed on to baby.

Read on for Glenis’ Guest Blog to understand more, it was very eye opening to me.  You can read her bio and see her contact details at the bottom of the page.  She is also a great Homeopath and Acupuncturist, who has been of great support to me and my girls up to this day!

If you’re interested in learning more about the wristband to read sugar trends in the blood (non-invasively I might add!), please contact me.  You might also be interested to read my Homebirth Story with Jade and Glenis and/or learn more about Essential Mum!  If you have any questions for me or Glenis, do not hesitate to drop them in the comments below.

Much Love x x

Gestational Diabetes Diagnosis in Pregnancy

The test for Gestational Diabetes (GD) in pregnancy is often considered routine and offered to women without counselling, explanation or consent. Many women are not even aware that they can refuse it. The diagnosis of GD is made by evaluating the level of a blood result taken from the woman after she has fasted for 8 hours and then given a sugary drink. Her blood is tested one and two hours after she has been given the drink to see how well she has been able to metabolise the sugar. If the woman fails the test she is then labelled with GD and her pregnancy is treated as high risk. The levels above which the woman is considered diabetic are arbitrarily defined by different health bodies and there is little consensus throughout the world what this level should be.

Studies show that the tests are unreliable and often give significantly different readings when repeated a week apart. Women who already have a good diet with minimal sugar in it also probably have difficulty metabolising such a sugar hit when it vastly exceeds what they are used to consuming. Also the same sugar load is given to all women irrespective of her weight, meaning it is much more of a load for a 60kg woman than one who is 85+kg.

There is also little evidence to show that this classification and the resulting treatment actually prevent the supposed risks of harm or mortality to the baby. Babies of GD mothers are at risk of being larger and at slightly increased risk for shoulder dystocia, a condition where a baby’s shoulders become stuck at birth preventing their body from being born. These babies can also suffer from low blood sugar levels after birth and be more at risk of being overweight and suffering from diabetes later in life. However, if they are medically managed by a hospital diabetes team they are more likely to be induced and subjected to the resulting cascade of interventions, more often resulting in a caesarean section. The resultant stress on the mother of having a ‘high risk’ classification also impacts negatively both on her and the baby. Obesity and excessive weight gain in pregnancy are more likely to lead to adverse effects for the mother and baby than a diagnosis of GD, although the two can go hand-in-hand.

GD is in fact a mild condition, without symptoms, that develops in the last few months of pregnancy. It is not the development of a serious disease. The level of glucose in the blood may remain higher for longer in pregnant women so that the developing fetus has an adequate and stable supply of nutrients to optimize their growth and well-being.

Managing this increased demand by the fetus can be optimised by giving the same practical advice to women diagnosed with GD as to all pregnant women.

Nutritional counselling should focus on the quality of carbohydrates they consume rather than the quantity. The most useful way to rank carbohydrates is according to their glycaemic index (GI). Pregnant women would do well to avoid or reduce those foods high on the GI as their metabolism leads to higher levels of glucose in the blood. These foods include simple sugars and honey, soft drinks, many processed breakfast cereals, white rice and white bread. Chemical sweeteners are also not good for the body. Many processed foods include excessive sugar, low quality carbohydrates and oils. A healthy diet is one containing fresh whole foods and complex carbohydrates because they are digested more slowly by the body and provide a steady source of energy and also more fibre. Examples include wholemeal breads and pasta, plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, and breakfast cereals based on oats, barley, nuts and seeds. Adequate oils and protein are also important.

Regular exercise is also advised as this helps the body burn up glucose and increases the effectiveness of insulin.

The best thing to prevent low blood sugars in the newborn is to ensure that they are breastfed early and regularly.

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Safe Sleep for Baby

Baby sleep has always been a hot topic for me.  Baby sleeping at all eluded me with my first baby, Eden, because of her gut troubles.  In fact, she is 4.5 years now and she still isn’t sleeping through the night.  My second daughter, Jade, sleeps really well, but she is currently sleeping in the bed with me. Whoever I talk to there are always questions about baby sleep and risks too that keep us mothers up at night. I remember being perched on the end of my bed watching Eden breathe when we first brought her home from hospital after all the terrifying things I had read about SIDs.

Recently, I became aware of a big risk posed to our children and it was something I had never considered before.  I was shocked because I thought I had covered off all my bases – no sleeping on the tummy, good ventilation in the room, essential oils to help baby relax in a diffuser with a timer, room not too hot not too cold… but the danger isn’t something you can see and it is everywhere.

How many of us fall asleep with our mobile phone on the bedside table?  Who has a baby monitor running so that they can hear when baby wakes?  How many small children use night lights?  Technology is in its golden age.  We use electronic devices, gadgets, and appliances for everything and we have become so attached to our mobile phones that they’re always with us, even when we sleep. I remember when both my babies were small scrolling Facebook would be the only thing that got me through the long nights breastfeeding.

However, these devices are releasing an EMF (electromagnetic frequency) that is negatively impacting our health and it may even be the reason you haven’t thought of yet as to why baby just won’t sleep through the night. Many studies are now linking EMFs with problems sleeping, depression and cancer, and the World Health Organization is in the process of reviewing its classification of electromagnetic radiation in the midst of a growing body of evidence that shows that cell phone and wireless radiation—at even very low levels—could harm our health in a number of different ways.

How do EMFs affect us?

EMF radiation is such a massive issue. I could write so much, but I’m just going to focus on a few facts that have impacted me, which I hope will help you to decide whether you want to limit your exposure or not. Please note that the key areas below are not meant to be a comprehensive analysis of how EMF exposures may affect your baby’s health and I encourage you to do your own research.

Oxidative Stress

Oxidative stress produces proliferation of free radical activity in our bodies and an environment positive for cancer and other health issues.  EMFs cause this stress in our bodies through cell proliferation of malignant cells and disruption of cell-signaling systems, which determine how a cell responds to its environment.

Brain Cancer

In 2011, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), an arm of the World Health Organization, classified microwave radiation from communication devices as a “possible carcinogen.” This is in the same category as lead, engine exhaust, DDT, and jet fuel.

The brain does not complete development until the early- to mid- twenties. This means children have an increased risk of the effects of EMF exposure and deserve an additional level of precaution. Small influences on the developing brain can result in large impacts later in life.

Studies in Europe show that people who used cell phones heavily for over ten years have a doubled risk of brain cancer, and those who begin using cell phones as teenagers have between four to five times more brain tumors by their late twenties.

Digital dementia

Scientists in Korea have reported increasing prevalence of digital dementia in children. They reported that children who are heavy technology users have brains that are underdeveloped on the right side. This has been characterized by memory loss, attention disorders, lack of eye contact, lack of empathy, and difficulty feeling or showing emotions.  As a result, the Korean government is instituting programs to reduce uses and exposures, especially to young children.

Baby’s Sleep

EMFs from manmade devices have a higher rate of oscillation (vibrate at a higher number of cycles) than the natural electromagnetic fields of our body at rest. The electrical current in your home is generally between 50-60 Hz. In contrast, the ideal frequency in your brain in sleep drops to as low as 2 Hz.1

This discrepancy can prevent you from falling asleep and pull you out of deep sleep, if you do manage to get there. This is because your brain tends to entrain itself to the frequency in the electricity and keeps oscillating at the higher rate of the electricity, which prevents sleep.

Wireless devices are even more powerful in their ability to affect our sleep. They emit a microwave radiation—that oscillates at a much higher frequency. And this can really keep you awake.  The thing about WiFi is that it is on all the time and is the main contributor to the electromagnetic radiation in our homes.

EMFs also suppress the production of melatonin. Melatonin, a hormone produced by our pineal gland, regulates our circadian rhythm and helps us sleep. It is also responsible for killing free radicals and for supporting the immune system.

Researchers have found that EMFs hinder the production of melatonin as well as prevent the absorption of the melatonin that is produced because of cell disruption.

Continual cell phone use can also decrease the pineal gland’s production of melatonin.

I am still learning about this area of concern for our babies and children. I have started using a device called Biozen that alters the electromagnetic waves emitted from electromagnetic devices so that oxidative stress and mutagenic effects where the strands of our DNA break and are unable to repair does not happen. Effectively the altered waves work on a biological level to do the opposite of EMFs, helping to repair the DNA as the natural process of our cells would do in an optimum environment.

I still feel it’s important to turn electronic devices off and keep them away from babies while they sleep.  This includes unplugging all electronics and appliances in baby’s bedroom and making sure we limit the use of phones and other screen time before bedtime.

Alarm clocks, electric blankets, baby monitors, lights, ipads and laptops are also among the many gadgets and appliances in our bedrooms that can cause serious health effects and sleep loss. Baby Monitors is an extremely tough one.  We use them to protect our babies and support us to know if something is wrong.  Biozen is a great alternative if you don’t want to stop using your baby monitor.  So far we have Biozen on our phones, laptop, tablet and the WiFi router!  Biozen is the only medically certified and scientifically proven to work (with the testing also certified.)

I hope this blog has been helpful in understanding what EMFs are and their effects, so you can keep baby’s bedroom (and yours!) radiation-free.  Experiment with removing devices from baby’s room or using the Biozen to see if it helps with baby’s sleeping.  I’d love to hear your feedback!  I have become fully committed to helping people understand the seriousness of the situation we are in with EMF radiation and collectively detoxifying our environment of dangerous electrosmog.  If you feel passionate too, or would like to learn more, please join me in my group on Facebook, Safe Wave Warriors!

Eden’s Story

My journey with essential oils all started with Eden,  my beautiful first baby girl.  We knew something wasn’t right almost immediately.  Plunket told me it was “just colic”, but from 2 weeks old she had also developed eczema all over her body and used to cry constantly and arch her back violently when we tried to comfort her.  It was hard as a brand new mum with no idea of what was normal, only able to trust what those around you said.  From 6 weeks we tried a chiropractor, as Eden had been born by c-section.  After another 6 weeks she said there was nothing else she could try and Eden hadn’t improved, but a nutritionist at the practice had mentioned dairy could be causing her discomfort, so maybe try cutting it out.  I was sleep deprived and would have tried anything! Little did I know that in 24 hours Eden would already have turned a corner.  I guess from there our journey began!  It hasn’t been an easy journey.  While Eden improved without the dairy in my diet she went downhill quickly when I introduced solids.  I couldn’t stand to see her in so much pain – in her abdomen, usually from wind or food reactions – still arching her back, clenching her fists and pushing away me and her daddy, hitting her head.  It was like she didn’t want either of us and that hurt.  We would spend hours and hours pacing with her in our arms, unable to soothe her.  She would pass mushy, smelly, green, mucousy, bloody stools. She slept only an hour at a time at her worst point and would spend 1-4 hours crying at a time.  An elimination diet revealed to us the root of her problems and support from Pediatrician Dr Leila Masson  finally when Eden was 1 revealed signs and symptoms of an abnormal gut flora, which can cause intestinal permeability and food sensitivities.

eden_2

Today Eden is well on the road to recovery.  She still eats a diet free of gluten, dairy and soy.  We were able to successfully reintroduce higher fructose fruits (not dried though) and higher fructan vegetables and very recently eggs, but after continuing issues we have recently discovered that refined sugar is a no go and she reacts to citrus fruits and sulphites.  Healing has centred around healing her gut, boosting her immunity and soothing the symptoms that kept her awake at night – probiotics, other remedies and of course essential oils that have all been natural. As hard as those early days were, Eden’s journey has changed my life.  I have always slanted towards a natural approach to health, but I never knew its real capacity to heal and I certainly didn’t understand the importance of gut health, the impact of diet or how many toxic ingredients there are in the things that we use every day – soap, toothpaste, creams, lotions, washing detergents, air fresheners, candles; I could go on!

As all mothers, I sought to do what was best for Eden. I assessed the things contributing to our “toxic load” as a family, and one by one I cut them out and replaced them with things I made myself, using essential oils.

This is where this blog was born!  I share what I know and what has worked for us.  If you have stumbled across this blog in search of a lifeline for your own personal challenge, I hope that you can see a light at the end of the tunnel!  Browse my Mummy Munchies, website pages and feel free to contact me to talk directly

Much love,

Clare x x

5 Things I Am Absolutely Loving Right Now!

Something extremely rare just happened. Both my girls just went to sleep at the same time!

One of them is asleep on me and I’m a bit scared to move in case I wake her up because I am loving the silence after a crazy morning!

Usually when they sleep, or one sleeps and I manage to entertain the other (out of my arms), my mind is a car crash of all the things I could or should possibly do with my time! Work usually takes priority, closely followed by peeing, eating or showering.

Anyway, I’ve actually found myself sat pondering all of the awesome things I  currently have in my life. And seen as though I can’t move to eat, shower, pee or work, I’m going to share them with you!

1. Cooking up stuff in advance – whole chicken, soups, bone broth, lentils and quinoa for dinners and lunches and roasted corn on the cob and hard boiled eggs for snacks

To be fair, I need to get better at this because mealtimes are complete chaos in my house. My mum and baby group confirmed on Monday that they all cook heaps of full meals in advance and the facilitator writes a 6 week meal plan! These women deserve a gold medal for organisation, but I’ll happily take a bronze for getting there. I have discovered some yummy recipes on Skinnyms. For example this 7 day clean eating and detox plan

2. Burpees

I used to hate burpees, but since doing my TERRAfit Challenge I am starting to like them! And I have found so many similar exercises that you can do a full workout out of (pyramid sessions going down from 100 to 10 reps of things like weighted jumping Jacks, air squats and full sit-ups) or the burpee session in this link. I have realised there is really no excuse to not do exercise when you can do these types of things in your living room, for 15 minutes or 60 minutes, with equipment or without it! And they really help you get lean!

3. Rollerballs

As you know, Essential Mum makes customised blends of essential oils and carriers for a plethora of different things, but as they are often balms or sprays or just a mix of essential oils that just need a bottle with a dropper, I hadn’t really had the need to use rollerballs.

WHAT HAVE I BEEN DOING WITH MY LIFE!

Blends in a handy rollerball last forever and you can use them on the go.

They are readily diluted, which is often the best way to use oils and it actually keeps them on your skin longer and decreases the evaporation rate.

They make great gifts, they aren’t messy and are great in an emergency – like I just got bitten and I need the soothing relief of Melaleuca and Lavender NOW, pnot after I have blended the oils together with coconut oil! Need I go on?…

I have lots of amazing rollerball recipes I can share with you, but I’m going to go one better than that. At my next market, which will be the Crystal Visions Holistic Market in Pakuranga on Saturday 16th April, I am going to have rollerballs and oils available for you to make your own blends and take them away! With essential mum recipes to follow, or you can use your own!

4. Black Beans

The other thing that has happened during my TERRAfit Challenge is that I have discovered all this amazing, yummy, super nourishing food to eat! Including black beans. Check out Wick Nixon’s blog to understand why you need black beans in your life! Including a recipe for black beans fudge. Yum.

5. Roman Chamomile Oil

Teething. We’ve all been there as mums. I’m not going to go into why I don’t like pamol or bonjela for teething (to do your own research and make your own decision is the important thing!), but I am going to tell you why I love Roman Chamomile for all-natural relief:

  • It doesn’t have to go into baby’s mouth at all to work.  I mix 2 Tablespoons of Fractionated Coconut Oil with one drop each of Lavender and Roman Chamomile and I gently massage along the jaw-line and we’re done!
  • The oils I use are 100% pure and safe, so I know my baby is getting none of the bad and all of the good!
  • Lavender and Roman Chamomile help baby sleep. Roman Chamomile is especially helpful for children because it treats physical and emotional states and children are certainly emotional beings, which often drives their behaviours, attitudes and ailments!

I’ve just realised that Lavender, Roman Chamomile and carrier oil would be another great one for a rollerball, so this will be coming with me to the market!

 If you have any questions about essential oils definitely shoot me an email or come along to one of my classes. Or you can shop directly from my website here!

Now, I wonder, is there time left for a nap? 😉

Much love x x

Baby Wind Blues

 

I had a lovely morning with my Homebirth Group today 😊 Such empowering, inspiring ladies keeping me on track for my own homebirth in December 😊

There were 2 ladies there with brand new babies, one who was suffering with some uncomfortable wind and I was reminded of my own journey with Eden.

She used to be so uncomfortable! I remember one day that she started crying when my husband left for work in the morning and didn’t stop until he got home in the afternoon pretty much; only when she cried herself to sleep exhausted or fed. Otherwise it was pretty much constant. Or so it felt. It was heartbreaking to be unable to soothe her and I really struggled that day. The words “I can’t do this” were on the edge of my tongue as I handed her over helplessly to my husband when he got home.

There were many dark days and I have so much empathy for new mums who are finding it hard! There is no book that tells you what is wrong or what to do to help, everybody seems to offer different advice, and ultimately you have to find what works for you.

Today reminded me of the things that worked for us and I wondered if it would be helpful to share them….

The first is a simple, but beautiful technique called the I Love You massage.  There are some clear instructions at this link: http://www.shoppinglifestyle.com/parenting/i-love-you-infant-massage/769/2/  Basically you are tracing the shape of an I and an upside down L and U on baby’s tummy to move pockets of air along. This really worked for us and was a beautiful way to bond, with Eden’s wide eyes staring up at me! It was relaxing to do before bed and I found Sweet Almond Oil gentle on her skin.

The second technique was pedalling her legs like a bicycle, gently. I tended to do this if she woke uncomfortable in the night. I would hold her little ankles gently and press her legs towards her chest and then hold for a few seconds. I would then alternate the legs like pedalling and then go back to two legs at a time; whatever seemed to be effective for her. She would often let out wind when I was doing this!

Another great thing I learned was about laid back breastfeeding. Have a read of http://www.biologicalnurturing.com/# and see if this is for you. I felt part of Eden’s wind issues early on was how much milk I had – I.e. lots! She would splutter and fuss, feed in short bursts and really often and I guess take in air. She had explosive green poos too! However these improved when I cut out dairy (see the following tip.) For me laid back breastfeeding helped gravity work in our favour. It was also overwhelmingly beautiful lying with her skin to skin.

Diet. This one was a big one for us. Ultimately I found many things in my diet were affecting Eden, but that was because of the issues with her gut. However, there are certain foods I would recommend every mum struggling with a windy baby try cutting out to see if it helps. I found this picture with a good summary:

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Also use a good baby probiotic. You can dab on your breast before baby feeds as a way of feeding the probiotic to them. (I got some funny looks as Eden would unlatch though, with a moustache of white powder!)

Last, but not least, acupressure. Just gently applying pressure in the blue and pink areas on the picture below. This can be done as a massage or simply pressing gently for no longer than 30 seconds. Baby will often tell you when they have had enough and withdraw their little tootsies! Eden wouldn’t stand for much touching of her feet, but reflexologists and Chinese practitioners speak highly of the power of these points.

Image result for acupressure points baby's foot

Using Essential Oils

As Eden got older (3 months +) we used essential oils more and more to help her. For example, I massaged a proprietary doTERRA blend into her tummy during the I Love You massage, which worked really well! It is called Digestzen.

I only recommend 100% certified pure therapeutic grade essential oils for use on your little one. The majority of essential oils are intended for fragrance or food, rather than therapeutic response, so are made from a majority of man-made laboratory created scents. The bottle may contain some essential oil, and may produce a therapeutic response, but their quality is not dependent on providing results that are therapeutic, they just literally need to smell and taste good.

Importantly, they have to smell and taste THE SAME every time! Which means that if the essential oil used in a particular formulation doesn’t meet the expectation or requirement for the manufacturer they will have their chemists ‘manipulate’ the oil with man-made chemicals to ‘standardize’ the end product. They can also fill essential oil bottles with cheaper chemicals to bring down the price of the bottle.

The essential oils I use and trust, and recommend to my clients are from dōTERRA.  I have used essential oils on and off since I was a teenager – mainly as aromatherapy – but it had never occurred to me that the quality of oils I was using matters.  When I first experienced dōTERRA I was blown away by the difference of these Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade essential oils and was curious to learn and experiment more.  Within a couple of weeks one sample had turned into an entire box and now my oils are an everyday part of my family’s wellness journey.  <<Read more here>>

Finally when nothing else worked for us we used colic calm, a natural gripe water (one that really is natural and not full of sugar and alcohol!) It is from a company called tummy calm and you can buy it over the counter in the pharmacy for a pretty penny. This link from their website that is a great resource for breastfeeding. 

I hope some of these tried and tested techniques work for you if you are struggling with the Baby Wind Blues and if you have your own things that have worked for you, please feel free to share in the comments.

To find out more about essential oils click here.  If you keen on trying essential oils I write a free e-book to help you get started. You can access it here. Or if you would like some help from me directly, Click here!

Much love x x

Protect your growing baby from harmful radiation